Five Tips for Becoming a Successful Health Coach

with NGI Alum Jessica Monty

After plucking a ripe mango from our backyard tree, I remember my grandmother peeling it in one clean stroke with the edge of her blade. Ever since, I have aspired to have knife skills like her. Before making my way back into the kitchen, however, I was first a yoga practitioner and instructor. Naturally, the energetics of food, body and mind became intrinsically important to me.

Jess MontyAnswering the question, “What foods do I need to feel great?” became a lifelong mission. In that respect, the correlation between food and fuel is a life skill I continue to explore. The quest to address such an inquiry is what brought me to initially study at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It was a natural fit for me. The diverse culinary perspectives that were taught allowed me the freedom to create with passion while still prioritizing the food-body connection. I absolutely love supporting people by developing their understanding of what nutrition is.

American society is always on the hunt for the next fad diet that will save us, or that will give us that optimal health. It is pretty special when you can help someone understand the importance of feeding the individual - mind, body, and soul. Human individuals are unique and complex. Knowledge of our individual and unique needs can liberate us from having to live in a box, and ultimately beginning the quest for self-knowledge and optimal health.

During that period, I saw myself professionally as a holistic health coach. My niche as a coach was teaching people how to cook. One can talk all day about health and nutrition, but if a person is not taught the tools to pull it off, it's pretty useless information. I love teaching people how to cook. Nothing gives me more pleasure than empowering people to take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary.

This transformative power is what ultimately took me to the Chef's Training Program at Natural Gourmet Institute. NGI was the institution that took my craft of food and nutrition to the next level. Once again it was natural fit. From the spice wall to the pantry, I was back “home.” Today, I work primarily as a private chef, and I am still adding a dash of this and that; all the while sprinkling health counseling into the mix.

Five Tips for Becoming a Successful Health Coach:

  1. Be a forever student. Study food and recipes as often as possible. There are constant advances in food production and products. There are a million ways to do something. Be skilled in your craft. Remember you know nothing!
  2. Walk the talk. I don't mean you have to be perfect. By all means, the best thing you can do for your client is to share your faults and experiences. We are multifaceted human beings. You don't have to be a health guru to be a great health counselor. But, you sure can't support someone in a rigid candida cleanse if you've never been on one yourself. Walk and work.
  3. Smile. The best gift you can give someone is your smile. Everywhere you go. Give it away- its free but oh so valuable. People want to be around others that make them feel good. People want to be around others who are happy. Life can be hard- a smile can fade away but always try to think of something to smile about, put it on your face, and the clients will come.
  4. Ask questions and listen. It easy to regurgitate information when you are knowledgeable in your field. A very powerful tool is to give people the space to make their own realizations. I found that it is a much more powerful takeaway when one thinks up something for themselves. Be clever and learn.
  5. Stay balanced. Being a successful coach means you've got to coach yourself to be successful. Take time to do the things that fuel you and bring you joy. Sometimes that means saying no. The more balanced you feel in your life, the more you will shine as a coach.



Yields 6 servings


For the ceviche:

  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1 mango (about ½ cup), medium dice
  • 1/2 cup of english cucumber, seeded and small dice
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut into half and then halved again, rinse under water in a colander to remove seeds
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, small dice
  • 6 ounces halibut fillet, skin, bones, and bloodline removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

For the plantains:

  • Organic cold-pressed canola oil for frying
  • 2 green plantains
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. In a large bowl, mix all ceviche ingredients. Gently fold the avocado in at the end. Let chill while you make the tostones.
  2. Slice the ends off the plantains. Run a knife down the length creating a shallow incision. Pry open skin to peel. Slice plantains 1-inch thick.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering (Oil should be about 1/2-inch deep). Place plantains in the skillet and cook until golden, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  4. Remove plantains from oil and flatten each piece to 1/4-inch thickness. This can be done with the bottom of a plate, cup, or tostonera.
  5. Return to oil and cook again on each side until crispy and golden yellow, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt while hot.

Note: The ceviche and tostones are best fresh and served immediately. Photography by Cheyenne Ellis

This post was originally published by the Natural Gourmet Institute. Learn more about today's Natural Gourmet Center.

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