Yesterday I went to the Colorado State Capital. I took the stand and testified against HB 1060 during the Legislative Committee Meeting.
This potential legislation concerns me.
Statement from Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers:
The American Dietetic Association wants total control over who can provide you with nutrition services and what nutrition information is available. Legislation in Colorado would prevent anyone but “dietitians” from providing nutrition services: not naturopaths, not fitness trainers, not weight loss centers, not complementary medical doctors, not chiropractors, not acupuncturists, not herbalists and not your Vitamin Cottage Nutritional Health Coach. Sound like “big brother” dictating your nutrition and health care choices? It is.
Statement from Nutrition Freedom For Colorado
Bill HB 1060, introduced by the Colorado Dietetic Association and Rep. Tom Massey threatens the livelihood of Colorado Nutritionists, Naturopathic Doctors and any other health professional giving nutrition advice! If passed, this bill would allow only Registered Dietitians the ability to practice nutrition in the state of Colorado! In the past, bills similar to HB 1060 have been quickly dismissed by the Department of Regulatory Affairs before they even enter the legislative process on the basis that they eliminate freedom of choice among Colorado citizens while hurting small businesses and the Colorado economy. Colorado has always been a model for other states in the way healthcare practitioners are allowed to practice nutrition and in the freedom of choice that gives the citizens of Colorado. Anyone who benefits from giving or receiving nutrition advice beyond that given by Registered Dietitians and the ADA should be very concerned about the impact of HB 1060. The last thing the Colorado economy needs is the shutdown of small businesses, schools and the loss of positions at businesses such as Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage and Whole Foods market! This bill would not only eliminate the growing profession of Holistic Nutrition, but also severely restrict Naturopathic Doctors and other healthcare practitioners that counsel their clients in healthy nutrition. To deny the general public the freedom to choose the type of nutrition professional they wish to work with and to deny nutritionists the ability to do what they are passionate about is unjust!
The bill was supposed to go up for a vote last Monday, January 30th, but the Colorado Dietetic Association stalled. They amended their bill and added exemptions to make it seem they changed their position.
If this bill were to pass it could adversely affect my livelihood, along with the freedom and choice all Colorado residents have regarding nutrition services and information.
This is the testimony I gave when I took the stand yesterday.
- As a Certified Nutritionist this bill would significantly limit and restrict my continuing education: I received my nutrition certification from the accredited American Academy of Nutrition and I have taken continuing education classes for over a decade in holistic nutrition and functional medicine. Because of my comprehensive nutritional training and background I have been able to teach health and nutrition classes to Fortune 500 companies and provide nutrition coaching to patients in medical offices. However, my training did not come from dietitians or a dietetic philosophy. Thankfully, up to this point, I have had the freedom to choose my course of study. For me, learning nutrition from esteemed doctors and healthcare practitioners was more beneficial for my clinical, daily application of nutrition than learning about an outdated dietetic food pyramid. For example, I learned about the importance of Omega-3 fats and the biochemical pathways of essential fats from Vanderbilt Cardiologist, Mark Houston M.D. I learned the physiological effects of cortisol, serotonin and insulin from Endocrinologist Diana Swarzbein M.D. and the vital role protein plays in the body and in a Paleo diet from Michael Eades M.D. The list of top notch medical nutrition training that I’ve received over the years goes on and on. I also use a lot of the Weston A. Price (a dentist) resources. Board certified chiropractors, acupuncturists, and nutritionists have all contributed to my rich nutrition education and ultimately how I write, speak and coach regarding nutrition. There have been no registered dietitians who played a significant role in my education or career. If this bill were to pass, it would make it illegal for any of the doctors and practitioners mentioned above to teach medical nutrition in the state of Colorado. My continuing education would come to an abrupt halt. My only option would be dietetic education, information. This bill would take away my right to any other high quality sources of medical nutrition education.
- As a Certified Nutritionist this bill would restrict my ability to offer medical nutrition coaching: For example, if a Colorado Neurosurgeon wanted to collaborate with me because he is an advocate of the Paleo Diet and wants me to counsel his patients, this bill would make it impossible for him to hire me. He’d have to hire a dietitian (even though Paleo, gluten-free training is not part of their curriculum). If a Colorado Internal Medicine Physician wanted to have both myself and a dietitian in his office to offer nutrition coaching to his patients, he would lose that option, he could only employ the dietitian. If a Colorado Family Practice Physician specifically wanted to seek out and hire a holistic nutritionist instead of a dietitian because she wants to offer a whole food approach to her patients, this bill would prohibit her from hiring me. And if a major university’s medical residency program in the state of Colorado wanted to send their residents to shadow me during my one-on-one medical nutrition coaching sessions they’d lose that option. These are real life scenarios.
- As a Colorado resident I would be restricted from seeking out medical nutrition counsel and advice from anyone but a dietitian– For example, lets say that one of my favorite Denver yoga teachers just completed a 2-year intensive training in Ayurvedic (Indian) Medicine with an emphasis on Ayurvedic diet principles. I’ve benefited greatly from her yoga classes and now I’d like to consult with her about some problems I’ve had with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Even if she is extensively trained in Ayurvedic Medicine it would be illegal for her to recommend an Ayurvedic diet to me if this bill passes. Or maybe I’ve been diagnosed with heartburn so I want to go to Whole Foods or Vitamin Cottage to get their opinion on what type of digestive enzyme could help. That option and those nutrition resources would be taken from me if this bill passes.
It was a long afternoon. The dietetic association had a well-crafted presentation that suggested their new exemptions would make it “okay” for everyone who wasn’t a licensed dietitian to continue nutrition coaching in Colorado. They said they only want “to legislate licensing for their registered dietitians.” Except that makes absolutely no sense. Registered dietitians already have rigorous licensing standards that have been recognized and highly respected in the industry for years. This explanation seemed misleading. Especially when their bill clearly states that the penalties for practicing nutrition (without a dietitian license) are fines and jail time which will accumulate each and every day a nutritionist continues to practice.
Then another dietitian would take the stand and say the licensing was actually “voluntary”. If that’s the case (which it isn’t) why are they pushing legislation in the first place? Their semantics and rhetoric were confusing and frustrating. And finally, it was curious to me that when asked, the dietitians were’t exactly clear how “the licensing for their own dietitians” would actually work or what it looks like. Again very strange since this was the exact thing they supposedly went to State Capital to legislate.
The holistic nutrition industry is very aware of what will happen if a bill like this is passed. We all watched what happened in North Carolina when they recently passed a similar bill. Nutritionist Elizabeth Lipski PhD is well known and respected across the nation for the holistic nutrition work she has done. Her book, Digestive Wellness was part of my nutrition curriculum 12 years ago and I still reference it today. Lipski had to leave her home state of North Carolina because of this bill. She has a PhD in nutrition, but if she continued to practice she would have gone to jail, instead she moved to Georgia.
At 7PM on Monday night the testimony for both sides ended and the Colorado Representatives began to vote. My heart was pounding. As each Representative said “yes” or “no” I kept track on my fingers.
One, Two, Three, Four, …Five OMG! …Six…..Seven!
WE WON!!! We needed the majority vote of seven “No” votes and we got them. I couldn’t breath, I was shocked. I had to double check with all my colleagues seated around me. Did we really just win? Both sides gave such passionate testimonies it was hard to gauge what the Legislators were thinking, but in the end they sided and voted with us.
HB1060 is dead.
February 6, 2012 was an important day for Colorado residents and nutrition practitioners (both traditional and alternative). Everyone’s rights to access whatever type of nutritional support or resources they choose (dietitian or otherwise) were maintained and protected. I’m glad I was there and part of the process.
A very special Thank You to Representatives Randy Baumgardner, Paul Brown, Don Coram, Marsha Looper, Wes McKinley, Ray Scott and Edward Vigil for voting “No”, killing HB1060 and stopping it from moving onto the Senate.