A Look at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York (My First Day Back to “School”)

"Food-related diseases are the # 1 cause of preventable disease.

"People are suffering needlessly. Primitive people don’t get headaches, heart disease and other [diseases of civilization]."

These were some of the opening statements from Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City, which began its 2005-2006 school year Saturday.

Bet you can guess. That’s where I was today. Yes, yours truly has gone back to school — well, sort of.

You see, over the course of 10 weekends, culminating this spring, I will have received some additional, intense training other than the four years I’ve been toiling on my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK! and the 250-plus doctors, nutritionists, researchers and health advocates I’ve interviewed.

After finishing this program, I also will be able to call myself a holistic health counselor. (Right now, I don’t have any degrees like that. I simply call myself a journalist, former sugar addict, "Sugar Shrew No More!" and KickSugar Founder/Moderator.)

Anyhow, from what I could witnessed today, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition offers one amazingly popular program, full of interesting classes and people.

It was wild. A whopping 1,100 of us from all over the country — and even folks from other corners of the world, including France, Brazil and Costa Rica — congregated at the jazz club in the Time Warner Center on the upper West Side of Manhattan.

In case you’ve never heard of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, it is billed as "the only holistic nutrition school in the world integrating all different dietary theories, from the ancient traditions of ayurveda, macrobiotics and Chinese medicine to the most current concepts like raw foods, Atkins diet, blood type diets, the Zone and the USDA Healthy Eating Pyramid."

Sounds pretty fascinating, eh?

So what did I learn today? Well, put it this way. Joshua Rosenthal discussed how this school is different from all other nutrition schools. For instance, it integrates all different diet theories; it’s designed to "wake you up" and acclerate personal growth; it focuses on the fact that we’re spiritual beings in the material world; it’s very vocationally oriented; etc.

What most piqued my interest today were two comments and ideas:

  • "The Crowding-Out Theory." Basically, this nutrition school emphasizes that when you want to make changes in your diet, it’s best not to focus on taking foods away; rather you should stress adding foods in — you know, things like water, vegetables and good protein. In fact, Joshua insisted, "by adding in things, other foods drop away by themselves."  That concept appeals to me greatly. What a great idea to urge people to shift their focus in this manner. In fact, I already urge people in my free, online KickSugar group to start eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and quality protein and fat sources when launching on a stop-sweets program, but Joshua’s "Crowing-Out Theory" is gives the idea a fresh, unique twist. That, to me, was the hottest tip that I got today. It’s a concept I plan to promote more heavily with people I coach.
  • "Deconstructing Cravings." Another intriguing point Joshua raised is one that I also espouse, but again, it was good to hear him reframe it. "Cravings are good," Joshua said. "As soon as you start saying they’re bad, it means you’re bad." This is another very telling observation about human behavior, but it also could help you to view your sugar cravings in a different way, thereby taking the power away from them. Instead of taking this woe-is-me attitude, you could approach your strong urges for sweets as a useful message. Perhaps you could even learn to welcome your cravings, because of what they tell you.

Anyhow, I have homework to do — I’m supposed to conduct a "Health History" with at least a couple of people.

Incidentally, if any of you readers would like to get a free health history, e-mail me and I’ll do one with you over the phone. Trust me — it’s really cool and fun. (I conducted two in class today.)

Now, I’m really excited about tomorrow’s program. Our first speaker is the pre-eminent nutritionist and health expert Walter Willett, M.D., head of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. I’m thrilled to hear Dr. Willett again — I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my book, SUGAR SHOCK! and hearing him talk at a conference in Arizona.

By the way, check out the food pyramid that Dr. Willett recommends we follow. It’s a far cry from the U.S. Food Pyramid.

And read about the fascinating Nurses’ Health Study, which illustrates the power of good nutrition to improve health. (More about that tomorrow.)

We’ll also hear from Marc David, author of Nourishing Wisdom: A Mind-Body Approach to Nutrition and Well-Being. (Just started his book tonight — reading it is one of our homework assignments — and it’s fascinating. More about that later, too.)

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Connie Bennett is the bestselling author of Sugar Shock (Berkley Books) and Beyond Sugar Shock (Hay House), one or both of which have been praised by Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman and many others. Connie is now dedicated to discovering and sharing fast, super-simple, science-based secrets to Crush Your Cravings. (Her renewed interest in this topic began in late 2012, when she was walloped by Crazy Carb Cravings after losing her mother . She is now completing her next book, Crush Your Cravings On the Go™ and creating the companion Crush Your Cravings System.

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17 thoughts on “A Look at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York (My First Day Back to “School”)

  1. Hello,
    I was looking for information about the institute for integrative nutrition and I found your blog. I was very impressed with your comments. I would like to know if the course is also good in teaching how to get clients, networking, couseling practice, legal issues, etc. Do you think that a graduate from the IIN have all the essencial tools to launch into a health couselor carreer)
    Thanks, Lia Hadley

  2. thanks for your feedback! I live in Atlanta and have a degree like yourself in Journalism, but very interested in taking my career to the next level (like changing it) and as much as the program seems chocked full of great information, I’m concerned that I will not have the “true education” that people in GA will see as a valid “degree”….HOW HAS YOUR PRACTICE BEEN PROGRESSING?…thanking you in advance, Leslie Kane
    Note from Connie: Leslie, I’ll write to you privately, but I did love the school and miss it now!

  3. Hello, I’ve been really interested in the Integrative Nutrition School. I need to make wise decisions about my continuing ed, and looking at finances. In your opinion, has the school been an asset to your career? And was it worth the cost of tuition, and travel costs, etc.? Also I am enrolled in a macrobiotic counselling course but concerned that I need a more broad approach as Joshua offers, to appeal to the general public. I would appreciate your response. Thank you. Bonnie

  4. Hi, I am interested in attending the Institute as well but have reservations (the cost of the course, not receiving a degree equivalent to an RD). How were the rest of the classes? Did you find it helpful career-wise as well as personally?
    Paula Seefeldt
    Note from Connie: Paula, I will write to you privately, but I loved the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

  5. Hello Connie,
    I am looking for information on the Institute of Inegrative Nurtrition. I am making a career change into the field of nutrition and have been considering IIN. My concerns are with the validity of the “degree” within the professional community and clientel. Do you feel the majority og graduates come away with the tools needed to start a successful business? Please, I would love to hear any and all of your thoughts! Thanks for your time. Michele
    Michele, I’m writing to you privately to answer your questions, but I loved the school.

  6. I found your blog while looking for information and articles on IIN. I am very interested in the program, but have the same concerns about high costs, credentials when completed and actually making a career out of it to combine with my social work practice. thanks!

  7. Hi! Like others here, I’ve been looking for some more information on IIN. Do you feel like you came away with enough information and tools to be a successful health counselor? I’m really interested in learning all the theories, etc, regardless of whether or not it would be helpful in teaching me more about health counseling. However, given the tuition, I need to make sure the investment is worthwhile. I would really appreciate any comments! Thanks!
    Note from Connie:
    Melody, I believe that you’ll get the answers to your questions here — I went ahead and wrote a post to
    address people’s common questions because I’m
    asked so often about IIN.
    Institute for Integrative Nutrition: Hear Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mehmet Oz & Others
    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  8. Greetings to the many people who often write to me to ask me about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
    Yes, I highly recommend the school!
    Anyhow, given that requests come in so often, I’ve decided to make this easier for you.
    To help you out, I’ve written a post that answers your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
    I hope that this will answer all your queries.
    Here is the post:
    Institute for Intgrative Nutrition: Hear Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mehmet Oz & Others
    When you call IIN or sign up to attend, make sure to say that Connie (author of SUGAR SHOCK!) referred you.

  9. Greetings. I am interested in pursuing a non traditional health career and am in the process of evaluating programs. My mother told me about the Integrative program, however, I have one major concern. I can tell from your comments that you felt that the program was valuable, so I would appreciate your feedback. Credentials-would the training I receive from the program be “recognized” by the medical community in Ga/USA? Were there any other nutrition progrms that you considered and what made you choose the Intregrative Nutrition program?
    Note from Connie: I will write to you privately, but check out this entry, which might answer some of your questions:

  10. Hi Connie – I love your blog! Like so many of the other commenters, I , too would love to hear from you about IIN’s credentials and your experience with clients who may inquire about your qualifications as a counselor and the school’s accreditation. I really love everything I have read and heard about the school, but share others’ concerns about the costs vs. the probability of parlaying what is learned there into a legitimate, successful business. Thanks so much for any insight and information you can provide!

  11. Connie,
    I found your website randomly. I am currently enrolled in IIN for this August! I, thrilled. Ive quickly scrolled through your site but it’s terrific! Keep up the good work!

  12. Hi Connie, I’ve been researching IIN & I came across Stephen Barrett M.D.’s review of them. Dr. Barrett seems, from his credentials, to be very knowledgable & held in high regard for his opinions. I’d like to hear your response about his review. His review is the first link followed by his Bio page. I’d rather not hear the response of ‘read the review from students’ or ‘it is what you make of it’, but would instead rather hear you rebutt his reveiw in all points. I look forward to your response. Thanks so much.

  13. I would add that I’m very interested in this subject & also in helping others. IIN seems like such a great place w/ all these reviews of it, but I did read that you get a nice referal fee for directing others there. This really disturbs me & from all the sites I’ve been visiting of graduates, yours included, there seems to always be a referal link.
    I really want to believe that IIN is what it says it is & that you really can become what they say, but w/ the lack of solid credentials you come out of there w/ I’m very hesitant.
    Again I’d like to hear a rebutt to Dr. Barretts review & the credential aspect especially. I wonder if you’ll even approve my posts. That just may tell the tale. Sorry for being skeptical, but w/ all the scams in this world you gotta be smart. Thanks so much.

  14. Brian, I applaud you for researching IIN before signing up. Skepticism is good, I believe. Before I signed up for IIN, I read as much as I could about the school, too. (After all, I’m a journalist.)
    You ask lots of questions. To begin, I invite you to read this post. Because people kept asking me about IIN, I spent quite a bit of time one day to write the following post. See if that answers your questions.
    As for Dr. Barrett’s remarks, they’re understandable from the vantage point of someone who hasn’t attended the school and is supposed to provide a skeptical view of the school for CredentialWatch.
    Also, Dr. Barrett seems confused by what the school offers. The reason so many different dietary theories are taught is that no one diet works for everyone. It was very helpful to learn at IIN about all the popular diets out there.
    Dr. Barrett also seems confused as to what a certified health counselor is. We’re not dietitians or nutritionists, which is why, yes, as he mentioned, our training is not accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. What we offer is different. In fact, I may refer people to nutritionists from time to time for help on certain issues. But health counselors are serving a valuable need to thousands. By the way, I know several nutritionists, who went to IIN and several IIN grads who went on to become nutritionists. (As for me, I went on to become a life coach, too.)
    Meanwhile, Dr. Barrett’s statement that IIN “teaches—in effect—to use your own experience to inspire others” is partially incorrect. IIN teaches you to help the client identify what works for him or her. And yes, our own experience can inspire others. In fact, if you look at many of us in the health field, you’ll find that our experiences are what led us to what we do today. If I hadn’t had a sugar addiction, I wouldn’t be nearly as effective as I am now in helping thousands conquer their sugar addiction. (I’m not sure you know, but I wrote a book called Sugar Shock!, too, that has been endorsed by many health experts.)
    Also, Dr. Barrett clearly doesn’t realize the wonderful impact IIN students have had on so many people. Plus, he misunderstands what IIN is about. Health counselors or health coaches do not try to tell people to improve their diet closer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as he stated. We seek to encourage people to follow better diets that are much better than those advocated by the FDA.
    As for your other comment regarding us health counselors getting referral fees, that’s done with just about any program these days. For instance, many teleseminar programs, workshops, etc. offer affiliate programs, where you get compensated if people sign up.
    In my case — as in that of my respected colleagues — I only serve as an affiliate for programs in which I truly believe.
    What it comes down to, I believe, is that you need to do what feels right for you. I’m not going to tell you that you should sign up for IIN. I get a sense that you’re really intrigued. I just recommend that you look in your heart to discover the path to take.
    Brian, I hope these answer your many questions. Feel free to contact me with any more questions. Connie

  15. Connie: I, too am a bit wary about the legitimacy of IIN, and the referrals and nothing but positive rave reviews from former students do leave a bad taste in my mouth. All reviews I’ve read from former students were salesy, full of superlatives and exclamation points about how the program changed their lives and that it was the best thing that ever happened to them, and that within a few months, they quit their day job and started a successful health counseling business. Maybe the IIN program really is that wonderful and transformative, that nearly all of its former students have not one single negative thing to say about it?
    I had been interested in IIN years ago, but something about the program seemed scammy to me. However, I am interested in learning more about holistic health and nutrition, and IIN seems to offer what I’m looking for. I’d like to learn just for my own knowledge in leading a healthy life. (I have no interest in becoming anyone’s health counselor, which is another point that bothers me about IIN.) Anyway, my interest was piqued again recently, and I think I will attend one of those webinars and speak with advisors to see what it’s all about.
    I’m still skeptical about this program, but wanted to let you know that I appreciated your response to Brian.

  16. I came across your blog randomly. As a current IIN student, It’s incredibly inspiring to see that you’re a HayHouse author. (I’ve been a fan of HayHouse for years!)Although I’m only a month into IIN, I can already feel a shift in my thinking in all aspects of my life.