Why I chose NOT to be a Licensed Dietician

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MD, RD, BCNP ... What's in a name?

I've been reading (and listening to) some pretty interesting talks about where conventional medicine went wrong and what needs to happen to change it for the better.  Chris Kresser's new book, Unconventional Medicine, was a spectacular read that highlights the limitations of our current health system (though he also speaks of its strengths) and how Functional Medicine Practitioners and Health Coaches (including those who already carry the above credentials behind their names) may be the answer we're looking for in terms of healing the chronic state of our nation's health.  

He details how an "unconventional" approach can prevent and reverse chronic disease (versus just managing it) and encourages practitioners (both licensed and unlicensed) to "build a collaborative network of allied healthcare practitioners" who will support their patients through each step of their journey.  This is exactly the kind of culture I want to create here at Health Talk and am looking forward to more of what Chris offers through his Adapt Framework.

I also heard an incredibly interesting podcast with Dr. Lindsey Berkson (a pioneer in Functional Medicine, best-selling author, researcher and nutrition specialist) and Dr. M. Accad, M.D. (cardiologist, internal medicine specialist, and author who has been published extensively) who discuss the roots of conventional medicine and where and why things went wrong.  These two vastly diverse, knowledgeable, and well-spoken doctors have both chosen to step away from the confines of the conventional practice (insurance reimbursements included) and have created their own cash-based (or "direct pay") functional medicine practices that are incredibly patient-centered and on the forefront of the new wave of medicine.  Apparently, many others who carry the credentials "MD" behind their names are doing the same - leaving the old ways behind and charting a new course in the hopes of actually helping patients beat chronic disease for good!

Another well-known face in the field of nutrition has thrown her Dietician's License out the window as a way of saying she no longer agrees with nor prescribes to the conventional methods and beliefs of the Registered Dietician world.  The Minnesota Board of Dietetics and Nutrition, to which her license was issued, did not agree with her nutrition platform (which is basically the same philosophy that I adhere to) and said she either had to follow their rules (the old and obviously ineffective nutrition rules that have ruled for decades) or give up her license.  So, she gave it up!  I applaud your bravery, Cassie!!

Why I chose NOT to be a Licensed Dietitian

So, I felt it necessary to explain why I chose the course of study that I did, knowing full well that some doors would NOT be open to me without a license in dietetics.

Nutrition and Health have been my passion for as long as I can remember (you can read more about that HERE)!  It would have made so much sense for me to have pursued this dream at a collegiate level, WELL BEFORE I was married with four kids (and definitely before I turned 40), but I didn't.  However, looking back, this doesn't surprise me.  I believe in a Greater Force who directs us down paths we would have never chosen with our limited insight.

If I had chosen to pursue nutrition as a bachelors or even as a masters program 15 years ago (when I was 24), I don't think I would have become who I am today, especially as it pertains to my current nutrition philosophy.  I have spent years doing my own nutrition research (and experiments) without the pressure of a credentialing academy staring down at me questioning my philosophies and protocol.  Would I have caved under their watchful eye?  I don't know.

However, over the past 20 years, I have definitely developed my own style and beliefs that are now being supported more publicly by those pioneers in the functional medicine & nutrition world (as well as by research).  Ideas such as "eat more fat", "don't count calories", "non-GMO & organic is better", "consume dairy with caution" and more, are some concepts I've been touting for a long time (and have also been made fun of for as well).

Why I chose HOLISTIC Nutrition

So, when it came time (FINALLY) for me to pursue my dreams and get a degree in nutrition, I was cautious.  I didn't want to be a conventional registered dietician.  I've disagreed with their beliefs for decades and wasn't sure how I could study something I wasn't in complete agreement with.  I knew from personal experience (and an 8-year battle with disordered eating) that the well-marketed conventional principles of Eat Low-Fat, High-Carb, Low-Salt (and no-taste) foods DID NOT WORK!!!  I dieted for YEARS and got nothing from it but a food obsession (sugar cravings, anyone???), weight gain, thyroid & gastrointestinal upset, and so on and so forth!

Once I started learning to eat REAL FOOD - especially healthy FATS -and stopped COUNTING CALORIES, as well as stopping CHRONIC EXERCISE - I LOST WEIGHT!!!  My food obsession ended, my cravings ended, and I finally felt free of the FOOD HELL I had lived in for over a decade!  All because I stopped listening to conventional wisdom and went with what I intuitively knew was right.

But how could I professionally pursue what I believed in and still be a legit nutritionist?  Enter American College of Healthcare Science & a Masters in Holistic Nutrition!!!

ACHS is a leader in Holistic Health Education, it provides comprehensive professional online and on-campus education, maintains an impeccable commitment to sustainable practices and principles, AND has been accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) since June 2003. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a recognized accrediting agency and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

All to say.... This school and their degree programs were a perfect match for what I was looking for, AND pursuing my masters with them was an amazing experience that I will NEVER regret!  I was able to approach nutrition with an open mind, rather than being bound to a set of principles and rules governed by some higher ups with an agenda.  

Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition

So, just so you're aware.  I am NOT a Licensed Dietician (nor do I want to be), but I am studying for my board exam to become “Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®”(BCNP) through the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, which will demonstrate that I have achieved the highest level of professional recognition and validation of my knowledge and experience in the holistic nutrition industry.

That being said, you can see & read about all the coursework I studied at ACHS, earning me a Masters in Holistic Nutrition with Honors, if you're curious.  It was an incredibly robust and diverse program that challenged me to research new concepts in the management of health and to look into and learn about alternative modalities as they pertain to health and wellness.  

My studies were steeped in research and academia, and I did not feel that it was so one-sided in its philosophy.  I was allowed the freedom to speak out for conventional wisdom when necessary, yet also allowed to investigate new avenues of thought as they developed.  I am grateful for this experience AND that it came about in the right time in my life.

When it comes down to it, I'm here to help YOU (the client) succeed!  I'm not bellowing an outdated set of rules for the sake of being RIGHT, nor to I want to tout NEW ideas for the sake of being DIFFERENT.  I just want to keep exploring the potential for better health, keeping my eyes to the horizon - and also to what research and practice teach.

AS A SIDE NOTE:  I want to be clear that I hold no disrespect for those who have pursued conventional medicine and dietetics.  I have deep regard for the amount of schooling and training that these parties go through, and several of my closest friends fall into this category.  We all have our own journey and our own choices to make.  The only thing I would say to anyone, including myself, is - where are you being close-minded?  And who are you serving?  If you're not looking at ALL the evidence - both experimental and "gold-standard" due to a set of principles, you're being close-minded.  If you're accepting insurance (as well as all the red-tape that comes with it - hello, 8-10 minute patient visits!!!) only as a means to protect yourself and get paid, you might question who you are really serving - the insurance company or the client?  In the end, we all have decisions to make.