What Are Health Coaches and How Can They Help Me?

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In an average doctor’s visit, a doctor spends about seven minutes with a patient. In this short amount of time, a doctor may order tests, make recommendations, or prescribe medication, but there’s a missing piece that health coaches seek to fill.

While 70% of deaths are caused by chronic illnesses each year, only 3% of healthcare costs are spent on preventive care. Introducing health coaches into the healthcare system is a way to encourage preventative care through lifestyle changes for people that suffer from or are at risk of developing a variety of chronic conditions, from diabetes to high cholesterol or blood pressure.

But what exactly is a health coach? Are they doctors? Are they personal trainers? Let’s find out.

What is a health coach?

According to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a health coach is “a supportive mentor and wellness authority who helps others feel their best through individualized food and lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals.”

Some health coaches may have backgrounds in health and wellness fields, such as personal trainers, yoga teachers, massage therapists, nurses, or even doctors.

Health coaches move away from the one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness by instead focusing on each person’s unique bio-individuality, the idea that everyone has different lifestyle, emotional, nutritional and physical needs. In this case, one diet and lifestyle doesn’t fit everyone’s needs. Health coaches incorporate a holistic view of health and wellness while working one-on-one or in group settings with people seeking to lead a healthier life.

Primary food is the idea that there are things in your life that are forms of nourishment, that give you energy apart from the foods you eat. Click To Tweet

Health coaches must have a certification from a health coaching program and are usually trained in a variety of dietary theories, nutrition, lifestyle coaching techniques, and the concept of primary food. Primary food is the idea that there are things in your life that are forms of nourishment, that give you energy apart from the foods you eat. Things like your career, relationships, spirituality and physical exercise. This concept rounds out the idea that health and wellness is holistic and incorporates many aspects of life, instead of relying solely on diet and exercise.

How can a health coach help me?

Health coaches can help anyone hoping to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and wellness. Health coaches can help you figure out what exactly your health and fitness issues and goals are. They then help you define strategies to tackle them. Maybe you are someone who wants to lose weight, or you want to reduce stress, increase your energy and improve your quality of sleep. Maybe you want to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Maybe you need help managing those conditions. A health coach can help in any of these cases and more.

Health coaches can provide you with health and diet information that’s relevant to you, like an exercise and nutrition plan, all while supporting you through your progress.

What is a typical session like?

Sessions with a health coach usually occur twice a month for an average of 50 minutes. You can meet with a health coach on the phone, through Skype, or in person, which makes it a more accessible choice for many people. The program can last anywhere from three to six months or longer.

A typical session involves an in-depth conversation between a health coach and client. The health coach will actively listen to the client’s health issues and goals and help provide step-by-step tools in the hopes of creating permanent lifestyle and behavioral changes.

It’s important to remember that health coaches are not doctors and don’t diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, or recommend lower or higher medication doses.

As the emphasis on holistic health continues to grow, some doctors are even beginning to partner with health coaches as part of a long-term patient care strategy.

Ready to tackle your health and wellness goals with a health coach? Find a health coach near me.


  1. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/02/04/whats-a-health-coach
  2. https://www.healthywomen.org/content/blog-entry/could-health-coach-be-you
  3. https://www.integrativenutrition.com/blog/2018/10/what-does-a-health-coach-do

Kristen Luft is a digital marketer working on health-centered blog posts for Wellistic. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, snuggling her greyhound or chihuahua, or following the latest trends on Instagram.

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