You can see that there are so many answers here, but only an RD should give out a meal plan. As personal trainers we are limited in our scope with regard to giving nutrition information. I’ve found over the years that many people know they need to eat healthy, but they need more help creating healthy habits–and changing their behaviors.
I have the ACE Health Coach cert and it definitely gave me tools I needed to understand behavior change and help clients make healthy, long-lasting lifestyle changes. The cert. helps you with clients to set goals, education, motivation, support and creating their program. (both with exercise and guidance in nutrition–no meal plans but you can review journals and make general recommendations). You understand what stage of change clients are in, and how to progress them to the next stage. As a coach, you educate, promote, and support clients in their efforts to eat healthy and exercise. I’ve enjoyed this cert and use it in conjunction with my personal training. It has helped me and my clients a lot.
Good luck to you– I know the nutrition piece can be a grey area. I also think a degree in psychology would be beneficial! 🙂
I make general recommendations. I also like to recommend books that are sound science but still a good read for the lay-person. Ones I am liking lately are:
Fat Chance, and its accompanying cookbook
Plants Plus Diet Solution
(both low glycemic, how to meal plan and cook with minimal to no processed foods, especially no added sugars)
The behavioral change certification is on my list. My undergraduate degree is in psychology and I loved behavioral psychology.
I agree with Karin and Harris in what they say regarding the difference between behavioral change strategies and motivation as opposed to actual food and health information.
Another issue with offering meal planning and detailed nutritional advice is that one must understand the law as it applies to scope of practice in the state where you practice, and the terms of your professional liability insurance.
The other thing to consider is that if instead of trying to be one stop shopping you instead focus on forging strategic alliances with the best trained and certified nutritionists you can find you might get the additional benefit of receiving referrals in return for those you provide.