There are a lot of options when it comes to nutrition schools, certifications, and seminars today. It seems like every day, a new program pops up. It can be hard to know which is worth it, and even more so, which is right for you. You may know that I’m nearly done with my RD (Registered Dietitian) credential. I mainly chose to obtain my RD to work more closely with medical professionals and to be able to accept health insurance, however I really value my roots, which all started at NTA (Nutritional Therapy Association). It’s really hard to “unlearn” information, so getting my real food education start at NTA was truly invaluable. It gave me the confidence and knowledge to question a lot of what I was being taught about nutrition in the RD program. I get asked a lot about my experience at the NTA, and if I recommend the program. The short answer? Yes!
Here are five reasons why, if you’re looking into a nutrition certification, you should consider the NTA.
- You’ll get an education on what nutrition really is and how the body works, not the rules of a ‘Diet’.
The NTA has been around for nearly 20 years, and was at the forefront of the real-food movement. Its programs are not new, developed in recent years to compete with the growing demand for holistic nutrition, but have been time-tested and built on the groundwork of natural science, not headline-grabbing opinion.
Nutrition is a loaded word, and one that most folks don’t really understand. Is ‘nutrition’ just another word for whatever diet a person is on at any given time? Is there a one-size-fits-all answer out there? One of the things that separates the NTA from other certifications, is that you start out learning about the foundations of optimal human nutrition. How the body works in order to get nutrients from the food that we eat. This is a critical part of being able to understand, not only how to improve your own health, but that of your clients.
How can you help someone suffering from blood sugar control issues, if you don’t understand the process of blood sugar control to begin with? The NTA doesn’t provide a set of black and white ‘rules’ to follow. It is not simply schooling you in another “diet playbook”, but gives you the know-how and tools to allow you to find the optimal diet for each one of your unique clients.
- You’ll learn how important eating real food is for optimal health, why what you eat really does matter, and be able to teach that to your clients.
A major roadblock when deciding where to go when it comes to health related certifications (especially when you know that real food is the key to good health), is finding one that matches your philosophy, and we all know there are many conflicting ones out there. Many other programs espouse several different eating philosophies, without giving you a concrete understanding of how real food nutrition actually works in the human body. After I graduated from NTA, I was very confident about which foods to choose for optimal health.
Eating real, unprocessed, properly prepared whole foods, is the very core of what you’ll learn in your NTC/NTP certification. Foods from both plants and animals that we need to thrive as human beings. You will develop an understanding as to how this kind of food is what the body is made to thrive on, and discover how to begin to reverse the negative impacts of the modern diet starting with your clients.
One of the things I’ve learned in my own practice, is that education is key with client compliance as opposed to blind rule-following. They look to you, as the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner/Consultant, for information. They want to understand why they are eating fermented foods, and what happens when they avoid healthy fats. When asked the questions, thanks to your education, you will be ready with the answers.
- You’ll meet like-minded people who are passionate about real food and develop a network of practitioners who will become invaluable resources.
It’s a hard gig out there. We are all trying to shift the conversation, and change the course of our health in a world that seems to be fighting against us. People are confused, your clients will come to you with an amazing mix of issues, and excuses. Every day, you’ll encounter something new. Since the NTA attracts like-minded people from all different experiences and walks of life, you will begin to build an amazing network of resources. I’m still good friends with many classmates and others who have graduated from NTA.
People in any given class range from trainers and physical therapists, to bloggers and farmers, to homesteaders and stay at home moms. Some are there to begin they’re career as a professional in the nutrition world. Others are there to expand upon what they’re already doing. Some are just there to learn how to improve the lives of their friends and family. You’ll all come with different backgrounds and goals, graduating with a variety of aspirations for application. Thanks to this unique blend, you’ll always have someone to ask when you have question, or seek help or simply to brainstorm with.
When dealing with clients, your NTA friends will be the folks you turn to the most. They’ll know where you’re coming from and understand how badly you want to help. They’ll have a mix of experiences and specialties of their own that will prove to be of the highest importance to your continued education.
Conferences and seminars offer even more opportunities to expand your NTA network. I can’t speak to the importance of this enough. Having a group of people from countless walks of life all striving to the same goal, wanting to help one another, is one of the greatest things there is to gain from the program.
- There’s far more to it than you can learn in a weekend, and nine months is a start.
The world of health and wellness, especially in nutrition, is ever-changing. Research on ‘real food’ is only just starting to be published and we are beginning to see documented studies on its benefits when compared to the Standard American Diet. To say there is a lot to learn is an vast understatement. While there are a lot of excellent weekend certifications available to supplement your working knowledge, building a foundation is key.
Thanks to the length of the certification, you end up with much more than a basic outline. You’ll not only dive into the basic of nutrition and learn about the foundations of good health (like blood sugar balance, vitamins & minerals, fatty acids, etc), but you’ll get a briefing in hormone balance, and even sports and prenatal nutrition. Once you start, you’ll realize that there is so much more than you every thought possible out there for you to learn. Nine months of real study is enough time to at least lay the groundwork and gain enough knowledge to go out into the world and start helping clients with confidence.
It’s worth adding, a major differentiating piece of the puzzle is that the NTA offers a section in the course on business basics. Though certifications, licensure, and legalities of scope of practice vary state-by-state, you will be provided the basic framework of how to start and run your practice instead of being thrown into the deep end. Even the simplest thing, like having your instructors and group leaders present how they took their certification into practice is unspeakably helpful to those just starting out.
- You get the flexibility of a distance course, with the structure and hands-on seminars of an in-person class.
Life is crazy. For many who arrive at the NTA, nutrition was not the career that they had in mind when they were younger. It became their passion over time. For may of us, that meant going back to school with full time jobs, kids, a fully-functioning life. Distance learning provides the opportunity to do that on your own schedule, working with the time you set aside within your life every day. It allows for some flexibility in the speed of the curriculum and the time of day in which you are able to get it done. That might mean after work, during your lunch break, or while the kids are at school. You are able to make it work for you.
Through your nine months in the NTP program, you’ll have assigned reading, video and audio lectures, quizzes and more to keep you on pace and make sure that you’re absorbing everything. This is not a ‘skate-by’ type of course. You have to participate and you must do the work. Open-ended courses with no check ins or due dates, often result in unfinished business. An incomplete class, sitting in cyber space until the end of time. That won’t happen with the NTA as you’ll have assignments to complete and deadlines to meet.
Distance learning is wonderful. Still, there is something about sitting in a class room, listening to a lecture, asking questions and being a part of the discussion that cannot be duplicated from a computer screen. The workshop weekends are where what you’ve learned over the months leading into it truly comes together and starts to really make sense. Everything you’ve read, all of the videos you’ve watching, meet up and come to life over the course of these weekends. You’ll ask questions that you didn’t even know you had, and will be able to get unawares from your instructors and group leaders right there when you ask it. You’ll be able to meet your classmates beyond a picture in a forum and start to build those relationships that will form your circle. The weekends are hard work. They’re long, and tiring, and you’ll want to sleep for two days when they’re over…but they’re so, so worth it.
So there you have it.
This list truly could go on and on, listing everything that can be gained from a year spent with the Nutritional Therapy Association. The foundation in real food, the people that you meet, the structure of the class, and the insightful, well-rounded curriculum that the course follows. They all contribute to what are truly, nine life-changing months.
If you still have questions about NTA vs another “health coaching”, or are deciding between getting your RD or becoming a NTP or NTC, I offer a one-hour, honest and straightforward conversation with you, based on your specific situation (finances, career goals, etc.) to help you decide. For those of you ready to sign up for the program, mention my name and I’ll happily send you a signed copy of my book or give you a free 1/2 hour call to brainstorm ideas about how to start your practice, once you graduate. Feel free to contact me once you’ve signed up to get your book or schedule a call.