I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in January 2017 and am currently about two thirds of the way through the course. In January 2018, I will have completed the year long program, and will be certified as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.
I personally have enjoyed my journey with IIN so far, but I know it’s not for everybody. Before I enrolled, I did my due diligence and read many reviews from other people who attended the school. Many raved about the program, while some said they wish they had saved their money. So, I’ve written my own Institute for Integrative Nutrition review, based on my experience, for anyone else who may be considering the program and doing their own due diligence.
Before I get into my experience with IIN, here are the basics:
What is the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN)?
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition refers to itself as the world’s largest nutrition school, although I don’t like to refer to it as that because I think it can be a little confusing or deceiving. It’s not 100% about nutrition from the food we eat, although it does cover a great deal of that, but also about the things that nourish us on a deeper level… things like relationships, career, physical activity, etc. I think of it more like the world’s largest ‘wellness’ or ‘healthy living’ school.
It’s a one year education program, now all online, that takes a very holistic approach to health and wellness. It also provides business and entrepreneurial training for post graduation. After completing all of the modules and course work, graduates receive a health coaching certification.
What is a Health Coach?
A Health Coach is a wellness authority and supportive mentor who works with clients to help them feel their best through food and lifestyle changes. They help clients to identify their health goals, tailor individualized programs to help them reach their goals, and provide support and guidance along the way of implementation. It’s a relatively new occupation with a fast growing demand as the world addresses the healthcare crisis.
How is a Health Coach different from a Nutritionist or Registered Dietician?
We all have the same goal of helping people to become healthier, but it’s important to note that Health Coaches ARE NOT Nutritionists or Registered Dietitians. Here are just a few of the differences:
First, the education:
To become a Nutritionist or Registered Dietician, one must go through extensive schooling (a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree) to learn about things like the very detailed biochemistry of metabolism, anatomy and physiology of the human body system, pathways of nutrient and chemical assimilation and absorption, etc.
To become a Health Coach, one typically undergoes a one year training program with much broader, less scientific studies around food, stress-management, physical activity, wellness, lifestyle balance, etc.
Second, the physical setting:
A great majority of Nutritionists/Registered Dietitians work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, doctor’s offices, wellness centers, in public health or government.
Majority of Health Coaches tend to be self-employed, or work for gyms, spas, wellness centers, corporations, doctor’s offices, or in the health food industry.
Third, the approach:
Nutritionists and Dietitians diagnose clients’ nutritional imbalances and concerns through identifying problem, cause and symptom, and write up nutritional treatment plans to address needs.
A Health Coach does not diagnose or treat clients, but rather assesses a clients overall well-being, and supports them in reaching desired goals.
Health Coaches to not compete with nutritionists, dietitians, or any type of doctor or nurse, but rather compliment them. We are all in this together to make the world a healthier place.
Is the program only for people who want to become a Health Coach professionally?
No, not at all. I’m not even sure if I want to do one-on-one client health coaching. The education that is gained through the curriculum can serve as a complimentary role to many other wellness practices, such as yoga, massage therapy, personal training, etc. It can serve tremendous value for anyone who wants to learn more about nutrition, wellness, and overall healthy living, whether it be for their own personal use, for their family, or professionally.
What does the program look like?
It’s a one year online program with new modules coming out on Mondays. Each module contains information in the form of PDFs, audio clips, and videos from some pretty amazing (and well-known) visiting teachers. Get the full IIN Curriculum Guide.
My Experience: An Institute for Integrative Nutrition Review
My background and what led me to IIN:
My interest in health and wellness goes back to when I was a teenager. Growing up, my breakfast of choice was either a Toaster Strudel, french toast sticks or Honey Comb cereal. Lunch consisted of either the school lunch or Ramen Noodles. My mom made healthier dinners, but I would snack throughout the day on the unhealthiest crap. Something clicked when I got into my teenage years, and I began to take my health and diet a lot more seriously.
In the early 2000’s, while still in high school, my dream was to open a smoothie bar… the kind with real fruit and ice – no flavor shots. I experimented for years juicing and blending different fruit and vegetable variations, and researching the health benefits of each of my concoctions. The smoothie bar didn’t come to fruition (pun intended), but all these years I’ve still known that I wanted do to something health and wellness related.
In 2015 I started this blog as a creative outlet to share my knowledge and passion for wellness. I was working in marketing at the time (previously in finance), and knew that I wanted to get out of the corporate world.
In 2016, as I started to take the idea of building a wellness business more seriously, I began considering options to obtain credentials. A “researcher” by nature, I had been completely self-taught in nutrition and wellness (through books, internet searches, documentaries, etc.) up until this point… so let’s face it, who would take me seriously? I felt a huge lack of confidence telling people about nutrition and giving wellness tips when I had no degree or certification in the topic. So, I didn’t talk much about it at all, except for to my boyfriend (now husband) and here introvertedly on the blog. I started researching to find what other wellness “experts” did and I found that the Institute for Integrative Nutrition came up… a lot.
Why I chose to enroll in IIN:
- Holistic approach. While I am deeply interested in nutrition, I’m also interested in all the facets that make up a healthy lifestyle. IIN’s curriculum guide showed me a comprehensive coverage of more of the topics that are in line with my interests.
- Reputation. IIN has over 100,000 students and graduates from over 150 countries.
- Reputable visiting teachers/speakers. Some of the visiting teachers are doctors, professors, and experts that I have followed and trusted for years.
- Good company. Like I mentioned above, when I looked into the bios of other wellness authorities I have followed over the years, I saw in many cases that they were IIN grads.
- Flexibility. The program is done virtually through a desktop, tablet, or smartphone, so it can be done anytime from anywhere.
- Certification in a year.
- Educational partnerships. IIN has partnership agreements with colleges and universities, including SUNY Purchase, California State University Long Beach, Maryland University of Integrative Health, Goddard College, and Excelsior College among others, allowing IIN alumni to earn credits towards a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or further certification.
- Opportunity. I wanted to open a door for more opportunity in my life.
- Gut feeling. Bottom line is, that I just felt it was something that was right for me. I contemplated the program for about a year before actually enrolling. All that while, it was on my mind and in my gut.
What I’ve liked about IIN:
- The holistic approach to health and wellness. It’s not all about nutrition, and I love that, because our relationships, career, spirituality, and physical activity are just as important as the food we eat.
- The visiting teachers/speakers. Before starting the program, I was excited to learn from some of the visiting teachers listed in the curriculum guide, and they did not disappoint. I’ve also been introduced to some doctors, professors, and wellness authorities, who I otherwise would never have found. I’ve enjoyed each of their lectures and have found their information captivating.
- The variety of information and conflicting theories. One week we learn about veganism, and another we learn about paleo. Nothing in the curriculum is one-sided.
- The Reference Library. Inside the student dashboard, you can navigate to a Reference Library, where there are dozens of audio files from more speakers/visiting teachers. These are not a requirement to listen to, but there if you want to. I’ve found them very interesting and useful.
- The Dietary Theory Library. Inside the student dashboard there is also a Dietary Theory Library, which lists and explains over 100 different dietary theories… things like the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Macrobiotics Diet, etc. These are not a requirement to learn, but, again, there if you want to reference them.
- The community. Each class has it’s own private Facebook group, which provides an easy way to connect and meet other students. IIN promotes connecting with others in the community and creating your own spin-off groups.
- A touch on every day life skills. I’ve learned new time management, intention setting, listening and speaking skills.
- Business material. IIN provides students with plenty of handouts, marketing material, business cards, and a website free for a year.
- The pace. I’ve found the pace of the course to be pretty perfect, with just the right of information in each module. I dedicate probably 5-7 hours a week to the course.
What I haven’t like about IIN:
- A large component of the later modules is about building your health coaching practice and getting clients…. which is totally great for those who want to do health coaching. It is a school for training health coaches after all, so I completely get that.. but for anyone who enrolled for the benefit of their own wellness, and doesn’t necessarily want to coach clients in the end, these parts can be a bit of a drag. There is still a lot of good education here though, which can be used in almost any business, profession, or life in general.
How IIN has helped me:
- I take better care of myself in all aspects.
- I’ve become a healthier eater, which I didn’t expect because I already considered myself a healthy eater before enrolling. I’ve learned more about food and the quality of food than I had anticipated.
- I’ve become a better grocery shopper. I know what to look for and am able to navigate my way easier.
- I’ve grown to love preparing and cooking food.
- I’ve increased my self worth.
- I’ve been introduced to some pretty awesome leaders in the nutrition and wellness world, people whom I otherwise probably would have never come across. I’m now aware of them, follow them, and continue to learn from them.
- I’ve met some local classmates, which AMAZED me living in a small town in Upstate New York. It’s amazing to find people in your community who share the same interests and passions. It’s like finding your “tribe.”
- I’ve learned great business building, listening, speaking, time management, and intention setting skills. I have a degree in business, but what I’ve learned about business from IIN is much more “real life” than what I was taught in business school.
- I’ve gained a ton of confidence in my knowledge and ability to share information.
- I have a better outlook on my future.
My experience with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition has truly been life changing. It was one of the greatest investments I could have made for myself and my family.
Because I have enjoyed the program and enjoy sharing my experience with others, I recently became an ambassador for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This means, that I receive a commission if someone signs up through my referral link. It also means that I am able to offer significant discounts to anyone who signs up through my link. Despite being an ambassador for IIN, my goal is not to try and sell the course. I definitely don’t want anyone to regret a decision in enrolling. But if you feel that your gut is telling you that IIN is right for you, my recommendation is to listen and take a closer look. As with everything in life, what you do with the information acquired through the program is up to you 🙂