The industry of health and wellness professionals has greatly expanded in recent years. To meet a rise in public interest around improving personal health and happiness, a variety of professionals are now widely available for hire, including health coaches, registered dietitians, nutritionists, life coaches, and more.

The increase in the variety of these professionals helps to meet the greater need for support, but it can be confusing if you're trying to determine which expert would best suit you as a unique patient or client. To determine the best option for you, here's a bit more about some of the most popular healthy living professionals.

Registered Dietitians and Certified Clinical Nutritionists

Licensed professionals with the Registered Dietitian (RD) or Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) title focus primarily on dietary intake for their clients' health concerns. Depending on the individual, they use a blend of traditional/Western, as well as alternative, methods to provide their clients care and recommendations. The biggest difference between these two professions is the specific requirements, including school obligations and certifications required by the state. RDs and CCNs often work in hospitals, schools, outpatient clinics, or in corporate health and wellness programs.

If you are looking to focus primarily on your diet, including calorie intake and food allergies, have complicated medical issues, or prefer to have a strict diet plan prepared for you, an RD or CCN might be the right professional for you to see.

Health Coach

The primary focus of a health coach is to take a careful look at a client's current health concerns and history, and determine the lifestyle and habits that are positively or negatively affecting their conditions. Health coaches look at a variety of influences, such as a person's emotional well-being, physical activity level, diet, job stress, and spiritual practices, and work with clients to recommend choices that can bring all areas of their health into alignment.

If you're looking for support, motivation, and accountability to meet your health goals—whether you want to lose weight, eat more fruits and vegetables, cut back on stress, or stop an emotional eating habit—a health coach might be the perfect fit. Health coaches often provide both one-on-one coaching or group programs that last for a set amount of time. They may also offer both in-person or remote sessions.

Life Coach

Life coaches focus on overall balance and personal growth at work, in relationships, in regard to finances, and spiritually. These coaches motivate and guide their clients to clearly define their goals for both the immediate and distant future. Their guidance provides a plan for clients who want to make changes in their current life path and determine the different choices that would give them the most satisfaction.

If you're looking for help to realize your strongest talents and skills, determine whether you should change careers, create a structured plan to make your life goals a reality, or work through challenges such as your fears or insecurities, a life coach could be the best professional for you to see. Similarly to health coaches, many life coaches offer in-person and phone sessions in both one-on-one or group settings.

When considering health and wellness professionals, start with these basic tips. When you determine which professional is best for your individual situation, be sure to research their experience and history, and ask for references. This will help you feel confident that their qualifications, professional training, and philosophies are aligned with your unique wants and needs.