Many massage therapists, chiropractors, herbalists and healthcare professionals are learning how to provide nutrition counseling to address health issues from a whole-body perspective. Nutrition counseling allows professionals to gauge a client’s lifestyle to look for problems that might be impeding their therapy. While nutrition is just one piece of the whole-body health pie, it is a sizable slice, and it happens to be the piece that you get to eat. Nutrition counseling is a central part of our jobs as supplemental purveyors, but it is just as crucial for therapists and health practitioners to be well versed.
Make Sure That Your Information Is Accurate
Before you can talk about nutrition, you need to learn about it. Reliable nutrition counseling can guide clients into developing a health plan, but the key word here is, “reliable.” Nutrition can seem complicated with the barrage of information people encounter every day. Being bombarded with information, much of it contradictory, leads even health care professionals to provide poor advice. There are a plethora of nutrients we encounter on the path to good health, and conflicting information about many of them.
We must evaluate the sources of our information. Health blogs and Facebook posts ARE NOT reliable sources of information. If your health source is trying to sell you something, then its reliability should be considered questionable. I try to write honest health tips here at VitaMist, but I will certainly not be offended if you double check with other sources. The sources you should rely on the most heavily are scientific studies, statistics with a large sample size and research from higher education institutes. Research performed by corporations can be useful, but bear in mind that they have an agenda.
You don’t have to be a biochemist to talk about nutrition, but you should at least know what the biochemists have to say about it.
Back Your Information Up (But Only If You Need To)
Now that you have done your research keep those statistics on hand and sources in mind when you approach your prospective clients. You don’t have to work those facts and figures into the discussion; you just need to know them. Nobody wants to be bombarded by statistics, and doing so will lose people’s attention. While you are dumping facts and figures on them, they will be thinking about all of the exciting things they would rather be doing than talking to you. Keep your conversation casual and friendly, but be ready to dip into your well of information when it is needed. You can be 100% correct, but the moment one of your claims is called into question, and you cannot support it, you will lose all credibility.
If someone asks you a question to which you do not know the answer, be honest about it! Tell them you are not sure. But that’s an interesting question, which you would like to know yourself. When you get a chance, look up the answer for yourself, and follow up with them!
Invite Your Prospective Client to the Party
You want to have a discussion about nutrition, not give a lecture. If your audience is not participating in the conversation, then invite them with questions. Seek their opinions, and attentively listen to them when they speak. By making it a dialogue and not a sales pitch, you will only feed the conversation. The time will pass before you know it, and both parties will come away feeling more satisfied than if you had used the opportunity just to practice your public speaking skills. You will probably even learn a thing or two that you can add to your nutritional repertoire.
Keep It Optimistic
Poor health can lead to some heartbreaking results, but frightening people into thinking about nutrition does not have the results that you would expect. When people hear about the effects of poor diet, they tend to believe that they have plenty of time to address the issue. As a result, they push the information to the backs of their minds, where it takes up permanent residence. When you talk about nutrition, you want the person you are addressing to be excited enough to take action, and to pass the information along to others. As many adverse effects as there are with a poor diet, there are just as many positive results with a healthy diet. Focus on the importance of nutrition when it comes to feeling good and staying healthy. Stress the benefits of a healthy diet and proper supplementation. Remind them of how good they will feel, and how much their clients can benefit. Always choose the carrot over the stick. After all, carrots are much healthier.
Present Yourself Well
There are few things more ironic than an unhealthy person lecturing you about your health, and how you present yourself goes a long way towards how people gauge your health. Business casual attire that is free of wrinkles or stains, proper grooming, good posture, a bright smile, and a confident voice are all weapons in your arsenal when you present yourself. Slumped shoulders, slang, frowns and messy clothing all give off the impression of poor health, regardless of whether it is true or not. Before you meet face to face, make sure that you are looking your best. When speaking on the phone, maintain a confident tone, while using proper grammar. Do not try making yourself seem smarter by using words you would not normally. Studies have shown that this often makes people seem less intelligent, rather than more, and nobody wants advice from somebody they consider unintelligent.
Know Who You Are Talking To
Knowing your audience may be the most important tip there is. When discussing health, nutrition, supplements, or anything else, you always need to do your research about those to whom you will be presenting. Before you say it, think about how the listener will want to hear it. Not all audiences need or even want the same information, and not all audiences respond to presentations in the same way. By putting yourself in their shoes, you will gain insight into what they want to know and how to convey the information. Forbes magazine has called knowing your audience, “The Key to Success,” and the most important step to growing your business.