Curious About Integrative Nutrition? Courses and Resources to Expand Your Knowledge

By Anne Danahy MS RDN


Integrative and functional medicine treats the patient as a whole – and many who work in the field are convinced this is the future of medicine. The goal is to understand why the patient is ill, and work to fix the root cause, rather than just prescribe a medication to manage their disease.

Similarly, integrative and functional nutrition is a more personalized approach in which a dietitian and patient partner together to heal the root causes of symptoms or an illness. It’s still science-based, but it considers all aspects of a patient’s lifestyle, genetics, and biochemistry, rather than just prescribing a standard diet for their disease.

Using an integrative and functional approach in your nutrition practice can be so satisfying for both patients, and yourself. It helps patients take control of their health and appreciate how interconnected their body and lifestyle are. As a result, patients are often more motivated and successful at making changes.

Unfortunately, there’s a gap in most traditional nutrition curriculums, and many dietitians (especially those of us who have been practicing for a while) aren’t all that knowledgeable or comfortable with the integrative approach. If you’re intrigued, but not sure how to start incorporating the principles of integrative and functional nutrition into your practice, it’s worth investing some time to learn more.

Here are three valuable resources specially designed by and for registered dietitians. They’ll help you get up to speed or advance your skills in the area of integrative nutrition and earn some CPE credits at the same time.

1. Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM) DPG practice group. Open to all Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics members for $40 per year, this practice group is an amazing resource. Membership benefits include:

• A full library of CPE-approved recorded webinars as well as ongoing live webinars on a wide range of topics in integrative nutrition and practice.

• A free subscription to the Natural Medicine Database- a great evidence-based resource if you want to examine the research on benefits or uses of herbs or supplements.

• A free digital subscription to 3 online journals (Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine)

• An active online discussion board, newsletter, and podcast

2. The Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certificate of Training through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you want more structure and a general overview of integrative nutrition, consider investing in this five-module, prerecorded program. It covers the basics, including:

• Digestive health

• Identifying and eliminating toxins

• Managing inflammation

• Supplement use

The entire program qualifies for 10 CPE credits, and is open to Academy members as well as non-members (although the price point is higher).

3. Ready to specialize in integrative nutrition and functional nutrition? The Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy (IFNAcademy) gives you the skills and confidence to practice with the pros.

Registered dietitians and integrative medicine nutritionists, Dr. Sheila Dean and Kathie Swift, offer this very thorough online course along with a distinguished faculty and advisory board who are top leaders in integrative and functional medicine. Lectures and resources are provided by trained allopathic and naturopathic physicians, registered dietitian/nutritionists, nurse practitioners, culinary nutrition experts, holistic health counselors and other allied professionals.

With 5 tracks and 33 modules, this program is a significant investment in time (and money) but it covers everything you need to know to practice integrative nutrition with confidence.

Successful completion of the IFNA functional nutrition training program provides 220 CPE credits. While the board exam isn’t required, if you decide to take it, you’ll earn the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner (IFNCP™) Advanced Practice Credential.

Whether you want just a taste of the basics, or you decide you want to dive deep into the science of integrative and functional nutrition, these resources could be just the boost your nutrition practice needs.