The other day, my regular customer turned friend, Cheryl, came into the market for lunch. Cheryl is a holistic health coach and the woman who hired me to help her cook during her women's weekend retreat last year. She had some interesting news for me that day; apparently, a bill had been proposed that would require a license to practice dietetics or the "nutrition care process". Basically, this means that no one other than a doctor or registered dietician can offer advice about nutrition as it is related to health. House Bill 345 has the potential to stop people like my friend Cheryl from working with clients to help them achieve a healthier lifestyle. She graduated with a certification in health coaching through the prestigious and well-known Institute of Integrative Health in New York several years ago, and has been an instrumental part of the positive changes her clients have made since they signed up with her program. She doesn't claim to be a doctor, a dietician, a nutritionist, or any other professional of that kind. But her years of personal experience, passion for good health, and knowledge gained through her studies certainly give her the right to offer counsel to those seeking it. But not everyone would agree.
Looking briefly at the bill one will see that its purpose is to protect the public from wayward care. But upon further examination, it's pretty clear that what it would actually do is monopolize nutrition services while increasing their costs, as well as to prevent competition in that market. Most registered dieticians work through hospitals, doctors' offices, and nursing homes. Those that don't usually charge and arm and a leg for their services because they can (I have a friend going through the program right now, and what she is paying is almost twice the cost of my bachelor's degree). On top of that, not everyone has health insurance, making it difficult or impossible to see a doctor for nutrition advice. Most people are looking for simple advice from someone they trust, and up until now, access to such simple and affordable advice has not been threatened. If this bill passes, more and more Americans will put their health on the backburner when it becomes too difficult to get dependable guidance.
I am in constant contact with people who have studied-sometimes for the majority of their adult lives-such subjects as nutrition, healing, health, and disease. Often, these subjects cross paths during the natural course of learning, so all of my work friends and acquaintances have a multifaceted understanding of most. I trust them, as do their paying clients and families alike. I have often based my health-related actions on what they tell me; from things as basic as how to treat my colds to serious issues like hormone troubles and food allergies. Most of the time, advice boils down to nutrition and how my habits affect said problems. Sometimes the advice ends up working, sometimes it doesn't. What's important is that I have people to talk to that I trust when I'm not sure where else to turn.
The fact that Bill 305 is threatening that peace of mind and my bank account (I have medical insurance, but I tend to save those co-pay costs for emergencies) is troublesome. I also worry for my many friends who would either be out of work or risking their livelihoods by continuing to do so. Because 345 would not only affect Cheryl and her health coach counterparts, but also every chiropractor, massage therapist, Reiki (energy) healer, health-food store employee (that means me!), personal trainer, yoga teacher...the list goes on and on.
In my home state of Virginia, Bill 345 is scheduled to be heard today. Cheryl and other concerned citizens went to Richmond to speak their minds, and as I write, I'm waiting to hear from her regarding the decision. I am cautiously optimistic that the health soldiers will put up a successful fight, but they are up against "Big Food" representatives as well as the American Dietetic Association, who is (curiously?) funded by huge junk-food corporations like Coca Cola and Hershey. It might be a tough battle. Stay tuned for the results, and in the meantime, you may just want to look into your own state's proposals if you are concerned.
Published On: February 02, 2012