The Institute for Integrative Nutrition is the world’s largest nutrition school. By attending IIN, I’m working towards being certified as a holistic health coach. If you’re interested in becoming a health coach, odds are you’ll come across a lot of information on IIN, much of which is conflicting and confusing. Now that I’m most of the way through the year-long program, I hope I can clear up the confusion and help you make an informed decision about whether attending IIN is a good choice for you (short answer—yes!).
Joshua Rosenthal, a former restaurateur and chef and advocate of Macrobiotics started the Institute for Integrative Nutrition 20 years ago. Rosenthal was inspired by modern nutritional science and the wisdom of traditions such as Macrobiotics, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda to found a school that equips students to counsel clients gently towards a more health-supporting lifestyle. While the school began with live weekend sessions in New York, in recent years it has switched to an exclusively online format.
The Learning Process
Students at IIN learn in a variety of ways: through video and audio lectures, readings and occasional live teleconference events. These lectures are conducted by Rosenthal himself in addition to numerous highly respected teachers such as Dr. Neal Bernard, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Andrew Weil, Julia Ross, Geneen Roth and numerous others. I’ve familiarized myself with many lights in the alternative health field this way and now follow their work.
In addition to studying health, we devote a lot of time to mastering marketing basics. Networking, social media, and publishing articles, for example, are all covered in depth. When you first enroll in the program, you’ll receive a handbook with hundreds of pages on marketing and running a business. I’ve found it so useful, I’ve already read through it twice. We learn incrementally so the information isn’t overwhelming.
Finally, we have a lot of ways to connect with mentors and fellow students. I’ve practiced health coaching sessions with nine IIN students over the phone, for example. We also have a health coach mentor with whom we have regular phone sessions, and we participate in online discussions on forums and Facebook groups.
Is the Institute for Integrative Nutrition a Scam?
If you do a Google search for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, you’ll find a fair amount of criticism of the school’s unorthodox approach. Some people criticize the school for not being rigorous enough. But that’s missing the point. IIN isn’t trying to give you a degree in nutritional science; what you earn is a certificate in holistic health coaching. For those students who seek a more traditional route and wish to work in a clinical setting, they should probably seek out a more traditional program.
IIN’s approach is to fill in the gaps in healthcare today by educating people – as individuals, in groups and whole communities – that what we eat and how we live have profound impacts on our health. If you look at the escalating rates of obesity and diabetes in America, you’ll know that health coaches have an important role to play in our future.
As a side note, though, a certificate from IIN complements many professions. Doctors, physical therapists, yoga teachers, and folks from many other fields seek out IIN to flesh out their practices. And IIN graduates likewise often go on to pursue additional education in functional medicine, fitness, and other fields.
Life After IIN
So what happens after the program finishes? How likely are you to have a successful career? It depends on the actions you take. IIN will give you plenty of ideas to get yourself out there and find clients on your own terms. To inspire you, you'll hear many successful graduates discuss their path in their own words during the program. What’s more, IIN even offers a free year-long business education course after your health coaching program is complete.
How to Learn More
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s website is a great resource for learning both about the school and about holistic health in general. Make sure to download a copy of their free full-length book on IIN’s food and wellness philosophy, written by Rosenthal himself.
You’re welcome to contact me with your questions about my experience. I can also set you up with an admissions counselor who can assist you with questions on matters like tuition. Best of luck to you on your journey to vibrant wellness and a fulfilling career.