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  • Letisha Hodges

Which Online Nutrition Programs with Registered Dietitians are the Right Fit for You?

Updated: Jan 3

Tired of joining free Facebook groups that gives you too much information and too little support on making long-term sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle habits?

Joining a group online nutrition program with a Nutritionist for your general health, nutrition, and weight goals is an awesome alternative to one-on-one coaching or trying to hack it alone!

Sure, it’s a more cost-effective option than a private relationship with your Nutritionist, but there are other benefits to working towards better health in an online group nutrition program.

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What are online nutrition counseling services?

Online nutrition counselling is provided by Registered Dietitians to help you achieve your nutrition and health goals. There are a few different models of online nutrition programs including:

Meal plans with a Shopping guide or 30 Day Food Challenge with a meal plan

These programs that can help you improve food choices and improve health conditions such as high blood pressure, weight loss, sports nutrition or prenatal nutrition. Most of these programs provide food and nutrition information without as much one on one contact with nutrition professionals.

However, these programs may not include personalized nutrition recommendations based on your medical history and individual needs or ongoing support for healthy habits through follow up with a Nutritionist online. You may find other programs with more support from your online dietitian better than a meal plan if you are struggling with sustainable weight loss or emotional eating.

Online Nutrition Counselling in a Group Nutrition Program

This style of Dietitian services can vary wildly in the format but the main types tend to include:

- An evergreen format that blends nutrition counselling through courses, group nutrition counselling calls, and an online community such as Facebook. It is called evergreen because you can join at any time! The downsides of this program may include less opportunities for guidance from an online Dietitian if you are unable to purchase one on one appointment including initial consultation and follow up from a Registered Dietitian. Some women may also find the evergreen online community less engaging as different clients with specific needs are starting at different times!

- An open/close model that also blends nutrition counselling through courses, scheduled group nutrition counselling video conferencing, and an online community with your peers such as Kajabi or Facebook. Some online nutrition coaching programs will include access to a personalized nutrition guide and a review of your current dietary habits through 1 on 1 consultation with your online Nutritionist. The downside of this model is that you have to wait for the start date to sign up and if you do not like sharing your personal information with a group of your peers then this is not the right fit for you.

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1 on 1 Nutrition Counselling with an Online Nutritionist

This is the most private and tailored of any of the online Dietitian services you can possibly get!

There are many ways that online Dietitians can develop these nutrition programs but you have access to your online Dietitian including a consultation to review your current dietary habits to develop a nutrition plan and achieve the highest level of success for your health goals. This may include a meal plan, healthy recipes, healthy lifestyle habits, self care suggestions, foods that can improve your health conditions, video conferencing to follow up, and unlimited contact with your Nutritionist.

You can even find an online Dietitian that has expertise in your nutrition goals such as weight loss, meal planning, emotional eating, wellness, or a healthy relationship with food!

The downside of this style of online nutrition counselling is that it tends to be more expensive due to the higher level of contact with your Nutritionist compared to the group nutrition counselling.

Here are some of the key reasons that group online nutrition counselling for your health goals works:

Internal vs. External Accountability

Maybe we’re all just people-pleasers, but research has shown that people who have external accountability in addition to their internal accountability are much more likely to hit their goals.

This is even more true with healthy eating, weight management, lifestyle, and wellness goals because there are so many triggers and factors that cause potential barriers in our lives

It’s why so many people opt to work out with an accountability buddy, a trainer, or take group classes.

Most 1-on-1 appointment with a Registered Dietitian or personalized meal plan only focus on internal accountability. This means you’re only fighting half of the battle!

Whereas group nutrition counseling and its private community of people who are also on the same path means accountability from your online Dietitian and peers who are also being challenged by the same hurdles.

It also offers more support and understanding when life gets in the way and your food and lifestyle habits start to slide.

You Are A Product Of Your Food & Lifestyle Environment

Many of you struggle with having someone else in your corner consistently. You may have a coach, but your friends, family, coworkers, and partners are around you much more often.

Your friends and family members may have the best intentions to help you but they may also struggle with healthy eating habits, provide unhelpful nutrition information, or have a hard time being consistent because they have other priorities in life too!

These outside influences may also have different goals for nutrition, different lifestyle habits, or a different relationship with food which can feel very isolating while you’re trying to make changes. It can feel like you’re the only one struggling with this and you’d need to have willpower of steel to make any progress!

Group nutrition counselling offers a community of support from your Registered Dietitian and peers who also have similar nutrition goals.

You’ll be introduced to others who have similar food and lifestyle goals and who face with similar challenges in their day-to-day lives, too.

Social Learning and Support in a Group Nutrition Program

Hearing from your peers as opposed to just your Dietitian may feel more relatable. While a Dietitian, like myself, has an endless amount of evidence-based tips and suggestions to help you achieve the most success, listening to the wins and challenges your peers are facing can be much easier to identify with. It’s the old 'theory vs practice' adage.

Watching a peer make strides towards their own nutrition goals can also provide a lot of motivation or inspiration that no textbook, recipes, meal plans, or medical professionals could!

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The Research Backs Online Group Nutrition Coaching

There were a few studies comparing the effectiveness of group vs. individual coaching for nutrition changes. A few clinical trials compared individual vs group nutrition coaching process for healthy weight management or diabetes management in middle-aged individuals and it was found that group nutrition counseling was significantly more effective than individual coaching. (1)

An even better option is combining the group nutrition coaching with access to 1-on-1 video conferencing of tailored nutrition counseling with your Dietitian. You get the best of both worlds - the supportive atmosphere with other clients and more personalized guidance wellness & lifestyle habits, meal plans, review of your diet, and help with individual needs such as weight loss or medical concerns such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).