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My Review of AFPA’s Holistic Nutritionist Certification: Pros & Cons

June 22, 2021

My honest review of earning my Holistic Nutritionist certification through AFPA, pros and cons and advice.

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Earning a nutrition certification was something on my mind for years. And at the end of 2020, I finally made the decision to enroll in a program and am excited to share that I’m now an AFPA-certified Holistic Nutritionist*! Since first sharing that I enrolled in the program I’ve had a lot of other women (a lot of fellow moms too, which I think is really cool) reach out and ask about my experience. So, here I’m sharing my honest review of AFPA (American Fitness Professionals Association)’s Holistic Nutritionist Certification, the pros and cons, my advice and experience. I hope you find it helpful. And if you have questions that aren’t answered below, comment below or send me an email and I’m happy to help answer your questions.

An honest review of the AFPA Holistic Nutritionist certification with pros and cons.

Frequently Asked Questions About the AFPA Holistic Nutritionist Certification

What is Holistic Nutrition?

The National Association of Nutrition Professionals defines holistic nutrition as: holistic nutrition is that one’s health is an expression of the complex interplay between the physical and chemical, mental and emotional, as well as spiritual and environmental aspects of one’s life and being. As such, professionals who are trained in holistic nutrition approach health and healing from a whole-person perspective.

I truly believe that holistic nutrition isn’t just about food and what we eat. It’s about the connection between your mind, body and soul and the powerful role food plays in all of it. It’s about finding simple ways to connect all the wellness dots in your life: sleep, stress, anxiety, movement, hydration, mindset and nutrition. It’s so life-changing when you find a way to make holistic wellness a priority in your life! You can read more about my journey HERE.

Why I chose AFPA.

It took me a few years to find AFPA and finally make the leap to enroll, and I’m so glad I did. I was looking for a nutrition certification with a few specific criteria: it had to be self-paced and online because in-person and set times would have been pretty impossible during this season of my life (mom of three, distance learning), holistic nutrition is something I wanted to learn more of because I 100% believe it’s not just about food, but food’s connection to everything else in our body and life, and it had to be affordable. AFPA met all of those and more.

AFPA’s Holistic Nutritionist certification is also approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) for continuing education units, and other nutrition boards and associations.

How long did the program take?

The program took me almost exactly six months. I began December 2020 and earned my certification May 2021.

What was the time commitment?

AFPA recommends spending about 10-15 hours a week and I think that’s pretty accurate. I woke up early before my girls to get about an hour to an hour and a half of reading and assignment work done for the day. Sometimes I would also squeeze in reading while my girls played outside. And some weeks the early mornings didn’t work for me, so I caught up over the weekend and spent a larger chunk working on the assignments.

How did you chose between AFPA, IIN and other nutrition programs?

The first nutrition program I looked into was Institute for Integrative Nutrition, IIN. If you’ve looked into online nutrition programs you’ve probably heard of IIN. I signed up for their emails, reached out to former students for their input and signed up for their free intro course to get a feel for what it included. IIN was really appealing to me, I think mostly because there are some big names in the wellness world who went through IIN (Purely Elizabeth granola, Sahara Rose, etc.) and I loved the idea of learning about a bunch of nutrition theories, like ayurveda. BUT! Two things kept stopping me from enrolling: the price and my gut. They push the marketing so hard, I was getting too many emails and it turned me off.

You know that feeling in your gut that tells you that something just doesn’t feel right? That’s what I kept feeling when I researched other nutrition programs. I looked into getting a master’s in nutrition, or school to become a dietician but both of those didn’t quite fit. Both options can take years, something I didn’t want.

Then I came across AFPA’s certifications through an Instagram friend @balancebyally. I did my research, read the curriculum, took my time learning about it and the credibility of it, and I felt really excited about the AFPA Holistic Nutritionist certification. So I took the leap!

How do the assignments work?

Each assignment is based off the readings. AFPA includes a timeline for what to complete each week and then which assignments to complete when. After you turn in all of your assignments, there’s a final exam and you must earn 85% or higher on it. You can retake the test if needed for an additional cost.

What can you do with a Holistic Nutritionist certification? Can you call yourself a Holistic Nutritionist once you earn the certification?

Every state has different requirements and AFPA shares it HERE. AFPA also answers a lot of frequently asked questions HERE about the certifications and careers.

What did I learn?

So much! A few of the big life-changing things I learned:

  1. The diseases your parents and grandparents suffer(ed) from, don’t have to be in your future too. What we eat, how we move, our sleep, stress management, relationships … it can all have a bigger impact on our health than our genes. The readings go into depth with science-backed evidence to prove this.
  2. Everything is connected. Your mind, gut, mood, energy, focus, pain … it’s really fascinating to ask yourself why you’re feeling something and trying to find a connection to that reason. It’s incredibly empowering.
  3. The power of our plates. The certification focuses on plant-based eating, which is eating meals full of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds 90 percent, with room for other foods too. There’s proof that eating more plants can be linked to longevity and less disease.

I also learned a lot about nutrition counseling, which I found really helpful. How to set up a coaching session, questions to ask, etc. I also enjoyed learning about herbs and making my own teas, something I had never done before.

The certification also gave me the confidence to start 1:1 coaching to help moms find simple ways to make room for healthy living in their already busy lives.

Making herbal teas for the AFPA Holistic Nutritionist certification. A review of the online nutrition program.
Making herbal teas was a fun hands-on assignment.

Pros & Cons of AFPA’s Holistic Nutritionist Certification


  • Affordable cost. This was a must for me.
  • 6-month program. It was the perfect length of time for me. I felt motivated, I learned a lot in a short time, and didn’t lose interest.
  • Plant-based focus. This was important to me because I wanted to learn more about science-backed nutrition practices, not government-funded nutrition information.
  • Self-paced. I needed this as a mom to three kids. 🙂 I loved being able to complete the readings and assignments on my own time.
  • Free nutrition live webinars. I attended a handful of these free live webinars and found them so interesting and learned a lot. It was also a great way to connect with fellow students too.


  • No in-person/virtual meetings. I think it would have been helpful to connect with other students going through the program (although AFPA’s instagram is a great place to find fellow students and connect) and have some of the content more interactive through a zoom class or something. But on the other hand, one of the pros for me was that I could complete everything on my own time.
  • Plant-based focus. This was both a pro and a con for me. A con because I wish some of the readings went into other nutrition focuses and trends such as intermittent fasting, Ayurvedic nutrition, etc. However, I know there are a lot of other places where I can learn about other nutrition perspectives through books and other resources.
  • I wish there was a business component. However, AFPA does share a lot of free resources on their website which is helpful, and there are a lot of free resources online for starting a nutrition business.

My Final Advice

In the end, it all comes down to following your gut. I ultimately chose AFPA because I had a good feeling about the program, what I would be learning and the cost, time commitment and online aspect all really appealed to me. If you’re looking for an affordable, self-paced online nutrition program focused on plant-based and holistic nutrition, I definitely recommend the AFPA Holistic Nutritionist certification.

*I’m excited to share that I’ve become an AFPA Affiliate! I have been loving the certification so far and am excited to share my experience with others and help answer questions. As an affiliate, I earn a small percentage if you decide to enroll using THIS link. (I also choose not to place advertisements on my blog, but instead only choose to share affiliate links for items and services I truly love and this is one of them.) Thank YOU for reading and your support.

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  1. Lisa R Kippen says:

    Congratulations! I am so happy for you! That is truly awesome!

Your comments make me really happy. :) I'd love to know if you tried a recipe, have a favorite to add, or just want to share something. Thank you!

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