Food psychology: definition and applications

Psychology and food are two related disciplines, Just like psychology and sports.

This is why in recent years there has been a growing awareness of how food affects our emotional state or how our emotional state affects what we eat.

In this article we will review the most important aspects of food psychology and we will explain what it consists of and in which areas it applies.

Psychology applied to food and its usefulness

The truth is, while a positive mindset affects optimal athletic performance, managing emotions is crucial when following a diet. But psychological factors are not only important for diet adherence (if our goal is to lose weight because obesity affects our health), but psychology also provides knowledge on how we can maximize the experience. at lunch time.

In fact, eating is not just an instinctive act, but the five senses come into play in addition to certain psychological aspects such as expectations, memory or emotions. This gives more and more importance to neurogastronomy, because eating with the palate is an act of the brain, and each individual has a unique and subjective interpretation of flavors.

In this sense, food psychology is not only applied to improve the well-being of people, but restaurants, for example, use environmental psychology to make customers more satisfied with what they eat and even they all consume. more.

Diet and Psychology: What’s the Relationship?

The relationship between nutrition and psychology becomes especially important in cases where a person has serious difficulty in achieving their goals, as often a person can have strong motivation from the start, but over the weeks the taking becomes more difficult. .

One of the professionals best known for his research and for providing scientific evidence on psychological tips that can be very helpful in weight loss is Brian Wansink of Cornell University. Such is his fame that he was even recruited by the White House to write nutritional and food guides in the United States.

Of course, many people are unaware of the importance of food psychology, but scientific research has shown that exercise and diet are not enough to maintain long-term results. In fact, with obesity, there is a high failure rate if psychological variables such as emotions are not taken into account, Expectations or beliefs about treatment.

  • You can learn more about this topic in our article: “Emotions are the biggest obstacle to weight loss”

Mental health and nutrition

Emotions are certainly essential for adhering to a diet, which is why experts recommend comprehensive treatment for obesity. In other words, especially in these cases, the presence of a psychologist is essential.

Few people doubt the importance of physical training and nutrition in these cases, but the figure of the psychologist is as essential as that of the physical trainer and nutritionist, because obesity is associated with many psychological problems. such as depression, binge eating or anxiety.

Therefore, this so varied and complex context demands a treatment in which it must give priority to a multidisciplinary program, instead of separate solutions. In this regard, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proven to be very effective, and you can check it out in our article: “The Application of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the Treatment of Obesity”.

Emotional eating

It is common for many people to be educated about food and know what to eat and what not to eat, but are unable to eat a healthy diet despite the desire to.

This often happens not only because of irrational beliefs or unrealistic goals, but also because of a bad mood. People, when we are depressed, stressed or anxious, eat uncontrollably: either we choke when we are sad, or we eat little and badly in times of stress.

Now if our mood affects food, food also affects our mood. When we are more nourished, we benefit from greater attention, focus and energy level.But in addition, some experts claim that certain nutrients like tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin, known as the hormone of happiness) also make us feel better. Tryptophan is found in certain foods such as cheese, chicken, or chocolate.

Neurogastronomy: what is it

The latest trend in food psychology is what is called neurogastronomy because, in reality, eating with the palate is an act of the brain. In this sense, neuroscience applied to food is also a reality.

Thus, scientific and technological advances have made it possible to know more in depth what are the processes that take place in our body and our mind around food, because food is not only an instinctive act, but those that come into play. Five senses, in addition to certain psychological aspects such as expectations, memory or emotions.

Food provides us with the nutrients our organs need to function properly. However, we also eat for other reasons, for example, when we get together with friends to have a great evening.

  • If you want to know more about neurogastronomy, you can read our article: “Neurogastronomy: eating with the palate, an act of the brain”

Some scientific data provided by psychology

Many studies have been done on the influence of psychology on lunch. Some of this research indicates that:

  • The ambient music of the place where we eat has a big influence on how we value the taste of food.
  • Red color increases appetiteThis is why some brands like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and Wendy’s use this color in their logos and installations.
  • The color of the container where the food is served and drinks enhance taste or aroma.
  • In a relaxed atmosphere and more sophisticated people eat less
  • With a more stimulated atmosphere, people eat more quickly.
  • Background rock music makes us eat faster and therefore consume more calories.
  • Bright light and yellow color make us eat faster and more food.
  • Well-lit restaurants make us order a lot of junk food.
  • Annoying noises make us eat faster, unpleasantly and uncontrollably.
  • Watching TV distracts us and makes us eat more.

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