Strong words but someone has to say it.
I’ve been trying – really trying to get through the AFPA Holistic Nutritionist Program. I’ve always been a great student and I was eager to learn more concrete facts about the human body and the nutritional requirements we have. I was particularly interested in how diet plays a central part in disease, mental health, and healing.
And gut health, of course!
And I had personal reasons for being curious.
Over my life, I have struggled with weight, acne, blood sugar, digestive problems, endometriosis (though never diagnosed) and painful periods, Candida, and the list goes on.
Why not finally get this all sorted and see if I can help others with similar issues as well?
However, the program choice turned out to be not so great – but maybe not for the reasons you’re thinking.
And disclaimer, this will not be an in-depth review of the program. I do have all the materials and read about half of them and looked over the other half but I did not finish. I will not claim that the program is worthless.
It just isn’t for me.
I purchased the AFPA Holistic Nutritionist program at a time where I was still eating a plant-based diet and confused about nutrition. I was sure I was just doing something wrong. That I was missing some key food or rule specific to my body. I just had to find the answer!
But really, it was the whole diet. It’s society’s delusions about food and the pervasive myths surrounding nutrition that I had to break through.
And unfortunately, this program falls prey to those myths.
Plants Alone Will Save You?
Everything in this course promoted a plant-based, if not an outright vegan diet.
Meat seems to be demonized and thrown in the same ugly category as processed foods.
Now, those of you who have been following my journey lately know that I had been vegan for a few years and plant-based for almost 20 years. So I have been in that world.
This also means I know the pitfalls.
Plants are powerful medicine.
They are cleansing to the body.
But they are not the best at repairing or rebuilding the body.
I don’t think it’s fair to keep telling people who only eat a whole-food plant-based diet that they should just eat more plants or different plants to solve their problems. Adding more greens, berries, beans, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, oats – more fiber – only made my issues worse.
What do you do when you are sensitive to most plant foods? What happens when your gut has been so damaged by consuming way too many plants that you now have gastroparesis? Do you make people feel guilty and afraid of eating meat?
Well, that’s what this course does.
Dr. Greger. Just Stop.
The second book on the reading list is by Dr. Micheal Greger. He is well known in the vegan and plant-based world and puts out “Nutrition Facts” YouTube videos that are also assigned material in the course.
I find his condescending tone and the cherry-picked evidence he proudly provides as he advocates a plant-based diet to be nauseating in his videos and I couldn’t help but hear his voice as I read his book, How Not To Die.
He shares some good points but completely ignores certain research on soy and blames meat consumption for nearly every single disease. It would be more helpful if we could get some studies done that didn’t lump a Standard American Diet in with health-conscious clean eating omnivores who steer clear of donuts and McDonald’s.
Because I just left the plant-based diet for an animal-based diet, and all my symptoms are disappearing.
Please explain, Doc.
The way he skips over certain studies that disprove his opinions seems disingenuous.
For those who are interested in an actual critique of Dr. Greger’s book, Denise Minger wrote a great one here.
Pushing Through It
Book #3 I’m finding to be just as bad. So difficult to read when every sentence is based on lies and myths perpetuated by Big Agriculture and Big Food Corporations.
And is it really written by the founder of the Whole Foods chain that benefits from promoting a plant-based diet?
Yes. Yes, it is.
How can you call kale a nutrient-dense food? How much do you actually have to eat in order to get the same amount of nutrition from red meat? Are those nutrients bioavailable? Meaning, are we actually able to absorb from it? And what is it absorbing from us?
Where is the balance?
In my opinion, eating only plants is not balanced. You are not able to get all the nutrition you need from a vegan diet. And you definitely can’t heal your gut by eating plants that contain tons of antinutrients, rip up your gut, and create an overgrowth of bacteria.
I decided that it’s not honest to go through the entire program that I feel is misleading just to earn the certification at the end – just for the title of Holistic Nutritionist.
I’d rather get certified through a program I believe in and that promotes a lifestyle that has actually worked for me.
I know you may be thinking, “Well, you’re no doctor or nutritionist so why should I listen to you anyway?”
My answer is: I do have an almost 40-year-old body and over half of my lifetime I have spent eating exactly the way this program recommends and my health still suffered.
I was not able to heal myself through all of the information that this course puts forth.
And I do believe in the power of diet. I believe gut health is central to our overall health. Our guts are ground zero for almost all diseases. And yet by following all the guidelines proclaimed by the doctors in the program, I only made myself worse.
I started eating an animal-based diet and I started healing. Immediately!
Perhaps they have painted the enemy of good health with too wide a brush.
The Standard American Diet usually includes meat within it, yes. But perhaps meat is not the reason that it’s so unhealthy.
Perhaps it’s all the processed foods, fried foods, white flour, and vegetable oils that tend to go with said diet. What about the sugar?
Meat is not the enemy. It actually saved me a lot of pain.
Three books in, this course doesn’t talk about the importance of fat-soluble vitamins, the bioavailability of essential nutrients, and the real dangers of antinutrients in any meaningful way.
It seems to boil everything down to “plants good, meat bad.”
This is way too simplistic and naive black and white thinking.
Many of the doctors in the course cherry-pick studies instead of following the facts. This was frustrating and very disappointing.
So, What’s A Good Holistic Nutritionist Course?
The program that I recommend is the one I should have taken:
The Primal Health Coach Institute.
Now, I haven’t taken the Primal Health Coach Institute course yet, so I can’t say much about it. I do believe, however, that based on what I’ve read of the founder and author Mark Sisson, this program will be based on an ancestral way of eating that makes sense for humans.
It will not be clouded by the false information that keeps getting circulated ever since Proctor & Gamble started demonizing real butter and successfully shoved Crisco – aka partially hydrogenated seed oils – down our throats around 1911.
It won’t be based on the lies that meat causes cancer or that eating fat makes you fat. Or that eating more plants more often cures diabetes.
I’m officially quitting the AFPA course. They do have a ton of different courses and I can’t speak to all of them. I’m sure their physical fitness courses are wonderful but I can’t recommend their Holistic Nutritionist course.
I just can’t deny the evidence of my own body’s healing while on a carnivore diet. This is not to say that I think all people should eat this way forever. But when you take your body so far out of balance with an overabundance of plants, carbs, and sugar, sometimes the pendulum needs to swing in the extreme opposite direction until it can come back into a healthy balance again.
I don’t feel that this program advocates a balanced point of view.
I guess taking the AFPA course was the inevitable nail in the coffin of my past ideas of what is healthy and what isn’t. I can look at it as a stepping stone into closing the door on my plant-based journey and into a healthier animal-based, nutrient-dense, and balanced way of eating.
A way of eating that more closely aligns with the way humans have eating for millions of years. Not just the last several decades when all of our chronic health problems started!
So, yes, I’m a little angry that I spent money on a course that promotes only a diet that made me sick over the long term. If I hadn’t followed my gut and just kept following this path I would have never found the answers I needed!
But I’m moving on.
I am really excited to be dropping the AFPA program that goes against what my body tells me is true.
Now I can plan to take a course that I have confidence in.
Let me know in the comments what other programs you’ve been looking at that are more ancestrally based. I have only heard of Primal Health Coach Institute but it sounds amazing. And please tell me more about this program if you’ve had experience with it in the past! It seems like this one would be my next step.
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Wow I am sorry to hear that you had health problems while being on a vegan diet. Personally, I am currently on a vegan diet and I am fine. Well, it’s only been 2 days so I am still fine I guess. However, though I am a vegan I am not going to demonize meat. If you eat meat once in a while, it’s not the end of the world. I am happy that found a b=nutritionist that fit your expectations and your needs. Cheers.
I know that you care about your health and the planet because of your choice to become vegan. So you’re off to a good start because so many people out there don’t think about these things at all. It shows you are willing to step outside of the norm and question the way humans do things. So thank you!
A whole-food vegan diet can be great as a cleanse to the body or a fast. But I don’t think it would ever produce long-term benefits just because so many essential nutrients are missing and the supplements are usually inadequate or not bioavailable. Just remember that a B12 deficiency can cause permanent nerve damage. The vegan diet also lacks choline, collagen, and many people become deficient in iron, iodine, and protein.
We do need animal fat and protein to give our bodies the essential building blocks to repair and rebuild our tissue. This is something I denied for a long time because vegan doctors said it was unnecessary. So I’ll just say be careful and listen to your body at the first signs of distress or deterioration. Thanks for commenting!
thank you for posting this! I have a job lined up already so i have just been looking thru the various health coaching certifications. It seems like AFPA has scrubbed the internet of any negative reviews of this course. When i was trying to ask the questions about the recommended diet, i got BS answers from the customer service. I’m glad i now know what I’m walking into before i start. Im think like you-meat does not need to be demonized.
Thanks for the comment. You’re right, there is no need to exclude healthy meat from your diet. It’s actually what saved me. Processed meats I can understand limiting or abstaining from altogether but real meat is one of the healthiest foods humans can eat. I’m wishing you good luck pursuing a quality health coaching program!
Hi! I’m writing this without finishing reading your article and I already agree with most of what you said! I was always interested in nutrition thanks to my father who promoted a healthy lifestyle to me and sisters. So here I was, looking for a change of careers and being a holistic nutritionist sounded interesting so I found the afpa and bought it. After getting halfway through the how not to die book I started to question why are you so against meat? Look, I know plants are rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients but we can’t just not eat meat. We are humans. We need nutrients from meat. Just the fact that we can’t get sufficient vitamin b12 just from eating a vegan diet is already not right for me. I’m sorry. Where’s the balance? Maybe we shouldn’t eat tons of meat everyday but we need some! I kinda quit the course after reading this book and I was just thinking about returning just to finish it..not sure anymore. Thanks for this article!
Thanks, Rebeca! I knew I wouldn’t be the only one questioning that book and the AFPA course in general. No one can really argue with personal experience and thousands of years of humanity’s meat-eating existence. It seems obvious that meat isn’t the problem but rather the highly processed junk, seed oils, and all the deadly misinformation disguised as “facts.” I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I will be working on more content related to trusting the body and the knowledge that we as modern humans have lost as we try to live a healthy lifestyle in an unhealthy fast-paced world. Good luck and continue to trust yourself!
Hi! I stumbled on your post looking for reviews of the AFPA program. I’m about 40% thru it, and yes, total bullsh?! I laughed when I read what you wrote about hearing Dr Greger’s voice! I actually took the time to read the articles he cited, and he really did cherry-pick. And it never seemed as tho the plant-based diets were compared to grass-fed, actually healthy, omnivorous/carnivorous diets — just factory farmed, or otherwise deficient ones. I also firmly believe that soy is not a health food – at least for the vast majority of non-Asian people. In fact, all of the studies he cited touting the benefits of soy were on Asian subjects Ancestry makes a huge difference! I will most likely finish the cert, because I do want the title, but I’m disappointed with AFPA. I too enrolled in the Primal Health Coaching program. I have found the interface harder to work thru, I think it’s actually because of thing that’s also so great about it – it densely packed with useful info. But, you’ve inspired me to go back to it and finish it, so thank you, and thanks also for validating my experience with AFPA 🙂
Hi Sue! We seem to be in good company in regard to Dr. Greger. And it’s so true that you cannot compare a Standard American Diet with a plant-based one and come to the conclusion that meat is the culprit for modern ills. That’s just dishonest. Compare plant-based and vegan diets with an animal-based whole-food diet without the junk and then I’ll be all ears.
I’m glad you’re feeling inspired and ready to finish the Primal Health Coaching program! I’m so excited for you! It’s still on my bucket list, so please come back to let us know how it goes because I’m so looking forward to getting my certification in that program one day. Good luck!