Scope of Practice for Nutrition Coaches

Woman writing at desk with text overlay "Scope of Practice for Nutrition Coaches"

You have to promise me something —

That you’ll read this post, even if you’re not a health/wellness coach. (there’s a nasty rumor out there that I only help health coaches! Not true one bit — my customers include ALL kinds of coaches, practitioners, licensed pros etc).

Scope of Practice for Nutrition Coaches

Let’s jump into our Legal Q&A Sesh! 👇

The Question // Sarah asks,

 Can I give macro goals as a nutrition coach if my certification and education covers how to do that?

The Answer //

Don’t check out on this answer if you aren’t a health/wellness coach!

Scope of Practice Definition

Scope of practice laws are state-specific laws that tell you what you can and can’t do, what services you can offer, and how you can work with clients based on your qualifications. It dictates how you can work with clients, what you can teach them, coach them around, or give advice or information on. 

Scope of Practice applies to all coaches

Scope of practice applies to ALL kinds of coaches — regardless of your industry. Every type of coach or practitioner has a licensed / professional body “above” it that dictates what it can / can’t do (money coach = CPA, accountant, financial planner; dating coach, personal trainer, therapist, doctor, etc)

The reason I chose Sarah’s question this week is because of a dangerous and misleading trend I’m seeing in our industry.

I’m seeing people mention how they’re under the belief that they can do X, Y, and Z (usually a higher “scope” service or area of advice) because it was something they learned about in their coaching or certification programs.

Here’s what you need to know about this:

Coaching programs, courses running by private individuals (money experts, doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths etc) are NOT able to expand your scope.

In other words, taking a course or certification program that’s run by a private company/individual does NOT give you any additional right to talk about things that are outside your scope of practice.

It’s important to get familiar with the health coach regulations in all states, since you’re likely seeing clients in states other than yours. If you do something really unique like supplement recommendations, or set up specific meal plans – look and see if you’re operating in any “red states.” See if what you’re doing is allowed and whether you qualify for any exemptions

Courses and programs aren’t scope expanders.

⚠️ Our scope is dictated by our state governments and the laws and regulations states have on the books.

So if your state says that only RDs or licensed nutritionists or doctors can give medical advice or nutritional advice (which is what macros/ meal plan would be), then a private program you signed up for couldn’t make it legal for you to be able to teach macros now.

Just because we learn it, does not mean we can teach it

Learning about something does not make it legal for us to teach it others.

(And if you listened to this On Your Terms episode, you know we don’t need to teach everything we learn to be successful anyway.)

I’m only telling you this so that:

  1. You know what’s actually in your scope of practice so you can stay out of legal trouble.
  2. You have this information available to you before you sign up for another coaching or certification program.

Now you know those ^ programs won’t make it possible for you to do things that are still outside your scope.

Learning new skills is valuable

But hear me loud and clear — learning new skills is still SO valuable.

It helps you to be a better coach/practitioner AND it can make you more marketable on the job market. So if you’re looking to get a job at a company, then those additional skills could land you a job you might not have “qualified” for before. It just doesn’t expand your scope within your own biz.

So the long and short of it is, Sarah, that if “prescribing” macros isn’t in your scope (likely not as a nutrition coach) then no, you won’t be able to do it – even if you learned it in your program.

To learn more —

I’d recommend listening to Part I of my scope of practice episodes and then going right to Part II of that episode where ever you listen to podcasts.

Hope this was helpful! Off to see if you’ve replied yet to let me know 🙂

Do you feel the pressure to keep up with all the changes online? Or even to teach every single you learn as you go along? This week I’m chatting with you about the permission we all need to give ourselves to slow down & do things on our terms.


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