What is a health coach?

Not many people seem to know what a health coach is, although we are getting more widely recognised as part of the holistic health sphere.

I trained 4 years ago with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, in New York and had one of the best years of my life.  In that we learned and experienced loads of dietary theories – raw, vegan, Weston A Price, paleo – and cooked and ate our way through them.  Also we worked with lots of holistic concepts from TCM, Ayurveda, meditation and mindfulness.  We learned that being happy, moving, having good relationships, feeling rewarded for our efforts in life are as important if not more so than what we eat.

So I still get people baffled as to what a health coach is or does.  They don’t know.  They imagine that we hand out supplements or boot camp people to lose weight; sometimes we get muddled with personal trainers.  Now there are health coaches who have other trainings that mean they do some or all of the above.  However, the main core is coaching – our coachees (clients) talk and we listen and then we ask questions and listen more and then support the coachee to figure out what they don’t want, what they do want instead and how they are going to achieve that and how these relate to physical and emotional wellbeing and health.

If you have ever tried to figure something out on your own you will know that sometimes it’s easier when two heads get together, rather than thinking and then not taking it any further.  A health coach provides the wall to bounce ideas off but also ensure that there is support and feedback plus most importantly accountability.  If someone comes to me (who is otherwise in good health) saying they want to lose weight I will always tell them, that’s easy. I never let my clients make weightloss a goal.  Weight is something that can be a side effect of whatever other goals they have but it is not the main goal.  I leave that to places like the slimming companies who sell processed package foods and want people addicted to their week in/week out meetings.

Rather an individual working with a health coach will get one-on-one support and learn to build an incredible life and change how they feel.  We dive deep into your whys and yes we do work with the past a bit because it’s important to find behaviours that have kept someone stuck and the patterns that need changing.  Overall though coaching is about here and now and where, how and who you want to be  so you can bring out the best in yourself and in your lifestyle too.

My first meeting is always an informal chat.  That way if someone wants to know what is involved, because there is a level of commitment from the coachee and the coach, they can do so.  If that person wants to go ahead then our first session is what I call my Discovery session and this takes them through the paperwork plus an indepth coaching conversation of what they want to achieve and then we work through setting action steps and goals.   For those who have never been coached before it’s an education too as they learn that the model of transformation used on one issue can be transposed to others.

I love health coaching.  It changes people’s lives for the better and brings smiles to people’s faces as they realise they can stop being stuck and achieve what they had hoped to.

A quick overview of FAQs around what health coaches do and do not do:

Can a health coach prescribe supplements?  NO – unless they have taken prior or further training.  Supplements are normally the remit of nutritionists, Nutritional Therapists, or NDs and Medical Herbalists (in the UK) or sometimes can be prescribed e.g. iron by a GP.

Can a health coach work out my macro and micronutrients?  NO – that’s the remit of a nutritionist or a dietician.  We can if we have prior or further qualifications (some of us are trained in other modalities*) but generally speaking no.  We do get you to do Food Diaries but that’s so you can look at it and be aware of your own intake in an overview kind of way.

Can a health coach send off for lab tests?  NO – again this is the remit of medical professionals such as functional medicine practitioners or nutritional therapists or those who have taken further training.

Can a health coach diagnose or treat a medical condition?  NO – again this is the remit of the medical field.

As health coaches we don’t need to offer these as what we do and can do is coaching and it works alongside – that’s what holistic is.  We can and do work alongside other professionals who offer these but our remit is coaching – that’s you talking, us listening and asking questions, supporting you to realise and set goals and meet them and it works. 🙂


About Elizabeth

Learn more at my website here:  www.elizabethplant.co.uk

If you would like to learn more about becoming a health coach please contact me via my website and let’s set up a chat. 🙂







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