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The Fitness Zone

How Nutrition Coaches Should Talk to Clients About Diets
February 5, 2020

As a Nutrition Coach or Health Coach, it’s your job to talk to clients about their diets. However, starting that conversation isn’t always easy. In order to get great results from your clients, you need to be able to talk to them in a way that inspires change and in a way that motivates them to stick to their plan.

Many of the clients you meet have had these habits for a long time, and there’s a need to be gentle with them yet firm to see long-term action. Keeping the conversation positive and encouraging while knowing the right questions to ask is a great approach to helping clients feel confident with you and within themselves.

Starting the conversation

The initial conversation should allow you to get an idea of the client’s goals and allow you to get a baseline for their nutrition habits. Good conversation starters can include questions such as:

  • •   What does a typical day look like for you?
  • •   Who does the grocery shopping at home? Who cooks?
  • •   How consistently do you eat?
  • •   Does eating healthier seem hard or unrealistic? Why?

Keeping the first conversation general yet allowing room for deeper discovery can help keep things casual and build comfort and trust between you and your client. Once you have an idea on how they’re eating now, you can make suggestions for healthier shifts and coping habits. You can also get a sense of your client’s vices and roadblocks holding them back. For example, you may discover they are an emotional eater or find they aren’t making enough time in their day for healthier choices. If there are barriers, you can suggest some workarounds and encourage them that there are ways to overcome their weight loss challenges.

How to foster encouragement and communicate effectively

Extreme approaches or drill sergeant type coaching often has a backfiring effect on people. Particularly those who resist being pressured into new decisions or who don’t respond well to constructive criticism. The better way of encouraging and communicating effectively with clients is by giving them the belief that they already have the necessary skills to change.

This type of positive approach makes dieting and nutrition an educational yet fun pursuit, giving clients the view that nutritious eating, fitness, and healthy habits are a path to an even more joyful life. You don’t want clients to fear you or to feel inadequate or bad for their current lifestyle and health habits. Instead, you need to approach them in a way that uncovers their strengths and help them to use these strengths to their advantage.

Once you have moved past the initial conversation, you want to start asking solution-focused questions which gets them to pull up on past experiences where they have succeeded or accomplished a goal. This can help them get into a more positive mindset, inspiring greater motivation.

For example, you may ask them to remember a time when they were successful at making healthier habits and ask them how you can both work together to achieve more of those positive results.

Maintaining motivation and goals

A lot of people find it hard to maintain motivation to make healthier eating choices because it seems too overwhelming. Habits are hard to break, especially for clients who have been carrying the same habit for a long time. It takes an average of 2-5 years to break an old habit but only around 66 days to build a new healthy habit.

So instead of telling your client to “stop” doing something, you can gain far better results by moving their attention to what they can “start”. For example, rather than telling them to stop drinking sodas, tell them to start drinking 2 glasses of water a day and work from there. Introducing small, achievable challenges and working towards healthier goals in moderation will reduce that overwhelm clients often feel and get them to see that becoming healthy really can be easy.

It is important to help clients get rid of that “quick fix” mentality and explain that becoming healthy is a lifelong journey that is always evolving. Providing realistic information and changes and emphasizing the benefits can help your clients to frame healthy choices as manageable.

Sign up for a Nutrition Coach course

Ready to kick off your journey as a professional Nutrition Coach? Sign up to our Nutrition Coach course. The Nutrition Coach course is online, and has been designed to empower fitness professionals to be better equipped to provide current nutrition information to clients within their scope of practice.

Using the latest evidence-based principles, students will learn nutrition for optimal health at every age, for weight management, and for performance and muscle growth.

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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