Health and wellness coaching is an emerging field, with a variety of practitioners providing a diversity of wellness services. Coaching tools may be utilized as a primary profession or combined with other health professions. In states with Dietetics, or Dietetics/Nutrition exclusive scope of practice laws, the applicability of the practice law varies depending on whether or not the coach combines health and wellness coaching with another health profession. This page looks solely at the Health and Wellness Coach who practices health and wellness coaching and does not have a scope of practice in another licensed health profession.
When can you use nutrition tools in your practice?
In states with exclusive scope of practice laws, Health and Wellness Coaches, and any other unlicensed individual, may provide information about, and support for: food, diet and lifestyle changes that do not fall within the set of activities set out in the specific state’s nutrition and dietetics scope of practice laws and regulations.
Health and Wellness Coaches, and other unlicensed practitioners who do engage in individualized nutrition counseling consistent with the activities outlined in the definition of Dietetics, or Dietetics/Nutrition in practice laws and regulations of specific states, are subject to those laws and regulations. The challenge is the definitions found in Dietetics, or Dietetics/ Nutrition practice laws are not black and white and interpretations of the permissibility of a given activity vary.
Many states that regulate the practice of individualized nutrition counseling provide exemptions and allowances for the communication of general, non-medical health and wellness information and supportive services. Providing publicly available information about, encouragement, or support for healthy food, diet and lifestyle that may prevent disease or improve overall health when not specifically recommended for a medical condition generally fall within this exemption. However every state is different; read the exemptions in the law regulating dietetics and/or nutrition of the state(s) in which you practice. In addition, some states have additional laws protecting the use of some alternative and complementary practices. Where these exist they are noted and linked in the summary of each state's law. These should be reviewed as well to see if and how they apply to your situation.
Disclaimer: This information is designed to a provide preliminary interpretation of state statutes, and cannot be substituted for legal counsel.