I’m writing this article having just finished my 1-year holistic health coaching certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition a couple of weeks ago.
This article is to share my experience with the IIN program and to help you discover a potential path into better personal wellness and maybe even a career in the health field, if it interests you. (Also check out my Become a Health Coach page!)
The buzz around Institute for Integrative Nutrition
I’ve read a lot of different comments and so-called “reviews” on Integrative Nutrition around the internet, and I noticed some of them weren’t even written by people who completed the course, they were just based on an outside point of view or hear-say.
Personally I think that’s pretty unfair, and I wanted to contribute an honest run-down as someone who has actually done the course.
All I can say about IIN haters is this:
Preventative healthcare (or often called “alternative”, even though it should be the main and primary approach to wellness, except in the case of an emergency) is a growing field, and its success threatens the monopoly that conventional medicine currently holds.
I think that scares a lot of conventionally-educated professionals, and companies who make a lot of money off of feeding pharmaceuticals to desperate people who don’t know any better.
This is not to say that I think IIN is for everyone. That’s definitely not the case and I wouldn’t recommend jumping into the course without a good amount of research and consideration.
All I can do is share my own experience, and hopefully that will help you gain more insight and help you get to wherever you are hoping to go with your health and your career.
Me before IIN
Before I enrolled with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I was working in the interior design industry, which is what I studied in university. Actually working in your field seems to be a feat in itself these days, however I had discovered that I found it pretty shallow and un-fulfilling.
I would spend free moments at work googling natural solutions to health issues and the nutritional power of real foods. I was fired up about natural health and I wanted a certification to round out my knowledge.
Here are a couple of pages from my workbook at the beginning of my studies with IIN.
Feeling stuck & knowing you have more to offer
You can see I felt stagnant in my job and really wanted to do something more meaningful and valuable.
I knew preventative, holistic health & nutrition was where I should focus for a career shift, because I literally couldn’t stop consuming information about it, and would talk someone’s ear off about it if they gave me half a chance. To this day when I catch up with my partner Will in the evening I’m usually raving about some cool new health or nutrition thing I researched that day.
Pros & Cons of IIN
I did a bunch of research before jumping into enrolling in a nutrition program, and I definitely had doubts about IIN.
My main reservation was how cheesy and almost cult-ish their marketing seems. I didn’t like how their site tries to push you to speak with a representative, and doesn’t actually give that much information about the curriculum besides some over-arching statements like “learn 100 dietary theories”.
When I eventually did talk to an enrollment advisor on the phone, I found her to be pretty vague in answering questions about the program, and kind of pushy and seedy.
However, the pros out-weighed the cons for me in the end, because there are some seriously AWESOME, UNIQUE things about IIN’s school and program. Here are some of the highlights from my perspective:
- Learn from anywhere. I wouldn’t have been able to enroll in nutrition school if I had to attend classes, because I have to keep a full-time job. I listened to my lectures during my commute or while cooking dinner, and then spent a couple of hours on the weekend doing workbook exercises and taking notes.
- Personal growth & business education. Unlike your average university education where you learn a whole lot of theory but then have no idea how to succeed in the real world, I really liked that IIN’s curriculum walks you through a gradual process of personal development, so you can clarify your ‘offering to the world’ and really make it a marketable, appealing package. This is exciting and useful whether you want to sell your services to the public, or just be able to convince yourself and your family to make a lifestyle change.
- Mind-blowingly awesome lecturers. The contributing faculty at Integrative Nutrition is basically a who’s-who of the alternative health world. Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil, David Wolfe, Sally Fallon Morell, Dr. Barry Sears, Gary Taubes and Dr. Mark Hyman were some of the highlights for me. These are some of the absolute top names in forward-thinking nutrition and health. The cool thing is the IIN lectures are very recent and fresh so you get to hear about their latest work and research hot off the press.
- Highly inspiring graduates. Although the marketing and enrollment process wasn’t that appealing to me, I got past that hurdle by checking out how successful some of IIN’s grads are. Some of the ones I find most inspiring are Isabel Foxen-Duke, Christa Orecchio, and Alisa Vitti.
What IIN did for me
As soon as I enrolled with IIN, I had this huge, glowing, vibrating feeling of having opened the door to destiny or something. It was totally awesome.
During my year at IIN I’ve been able to:
- present a series of wellness lectures at a large corporate office
- land a paying client
- connect with other students around the world who are valuable friends and contacts, and see how they have applied their IIN knowledge, whether for personal healing and growth or in a business context
- learn how to take great care of myself and start showing myself a lot more love
- learn a boatload of actionable techniques and strategies for lifestyle change and healthy eating, which I’ve applied to myself and also helped others
- start and maintain a yoga and meditation practice, which is a huge step considering any type of spirituality or practice was a LONG shot away for me, one year ago
- have my mind expanded about different nutritional approaches that can work for different people
- learn how to market my services in a loving, genuine and valuable way
- feel like I’ve finally found my mission in life that I can never get enough of!!
Some warnings or things you should know
As I said earlier, my goal with sharing this experience is to help others gather information and make the smartest, most informed decision. Here are some things you may want to be aware of if you’re considering studying holistic nutrition:
- It’s not an automatic job – just like when you go to university or college you attend classes and study and write tests and graduate, and then you have to go out and pound the pavement yourself. You have to produce marketing materials (like a CV, or a website, or whatever) and make yourself known to the world. IIN is the same way. There is A LOT of juicy and inspiring information shared in the course, but actually doing the work is up to you. Making a new career happen, by yourself and for yourself, will be the scariest and most difficult thing you will do, but also the most exciting, exhilarating and rewarding.
- You will learn conflicting theories – I read one “review” of IIN (again by someone who hadn’t actually attended the course) where they said it was a “confusing and misleading” school that taught “many opposing theories”. That’s the interesting thing about nutrition – it’s not like math where there’s only one right answer. It’s more like politics or religion, where people are very quick to defend their personal preference, but a lot of different approaches CAN work and be effective. I see this as a positive point of IIN in that it doesn’t indoctrinate students with one “correct” approach such as veganism or macrobiotics or the blood type diet etc. It touches on all of these (and many more), exploring the pros and cons and suggesting where they might work for different individuals in different situations. This helps you experiment with applying or recommending different approaches that might be uniquely effective for you, your family or your clients.
- You will not be forced to do the work, and the tests are easy – surprise, there will be no one pestering you and watching over your shoulder to make you do the work. I found that IIN required a lot more independent motivation that even university did, since it’s distance learning and it all depends on your own passion and fire to make it happen. The tests in the IIN curriculum are simple and basic, more like a walk-through or overview of the information. However the information on offer is very in-depth and complex and it’s all there for you if you’re hungry for it.
- You get what you put in – I’m commenting again on other reviews of IIN that I saw before I chose to enroll, where the writer was complaining about basically not having an Ivey league accreditation and high-paying job handed over at the end. IIN is a certification, not an automatic ticket to the top. I believe that IIN is good for people who have that insatiable drive to engage with the world of holistic health and really feel that that is their mission in life. It’s not for those who just might want to dabble in a little bit of reading about nutrition, because they will not get much out of this course. If you want to do some casual reading, try just checking out some blogs or buying a couple of books on the subject, rather than engaging with a big investment like IIN that requires a passionate self-starter.
Is the IIN Health Coaching course worth it?
For me, it was totally 100% worth it. I’ve taken a huge step toward becoming the valuable, in-demand wellness professional I want to be, and learned so much about how to share that offering with the world. And judging from the comments, inspiration and excitement buzzing around the roughly 1500 other students in my enrollment class, they are all absolutely loving their IIN experience as well.
Who is IIN right for?
- people who want to shift into the wellness profession but do not want to spend 4 years doing a degree. IIN arms you with the practical skills to get in the field and start counselling clients in one year, and you can even start while you’re a student.
- people who want to start an incredible personal growth journey, regardless of their profession. A lot of the students in my class were working on their own health issues or wanted to help those in their family.
- people who already have a related certification but want to expand their offering. This would be people like doctors, nurses, dentists, personal trainers, acupuncturists, social workers, dietitians, massage therapists, etc etc. The IIN approach is called integrative for a reason – it brings wellness knowledge full-circle to help counselors improve their clients’ lives from all sides, not just diet.
Who should not enroll with IIN?
- people who need someone else to organize or direct their activities
- people who don’t believe that nutrition and lifestyle practices can affect your health
- people who cannot be bothered making a change or trying something new
- people with a closed heart or judgmental outlook
The Thrive Primal IIN Discount Scholarship
If you’re feeling informed, engaged and inspired by this article, I’m excited to say that I’ve been given license to share a discount with my readers of up to 25%! To get the full discount, you have to pay the tuition fees in full before March 20. Click here to find out more and access the discount.
If you enroll through the above link, I will receive a small payment that goes toward keeping this site running, so I can continue to share this valuable information. If you appreciate the effort I put into sharing this info, it would be awesome if you could enroll through my link. Thank you!! :)
Questions or comments?
As a proud and thriving graduate of IIN I’m totally keen on helping other passionate people have the same awesome experience I had. If you have questions I would be happy to help you out, just get in touch via the contact page.
Also check out my Become a Health Coach page for some interesting articles about why health coaches are so important to the future of healthcare, and to grab free info about the IIN program. Cheers!