Psychology and nutrition: the importance of emotional eating

What we eat not only affects how we feel, but how we feel also affects the way we eat.

It is for this reason that there is a branch of psychology that specializes in taking charge of the way we eat. It is usually called Nutrition psychology, El Food psychology.

Psychology and nutrition: a necessary tandem for our health

Although many people do not believe it, psychology can be important in improving diet adherence, either to improve body image or to control excessive food intake when overweight. psychological variables linked to success in dieting.

Therefore, psychologists are professionals who can provide their services so that individuals can make changes in behavior or lifestyle. There are tools (like good planning, avoidance of stimuli, etc.) that can be beneficial in carrying out a diet plan.

A psychologist can be of great help in the fight against obesity, because the emotional aspects are very important in achieving a permanent change in habits that affect eating. In addition, in severe cases of eating disorders, The psychologist is an essential figure for the correct treatment of pathologies.

Eating with the palate: pleasant behavior

Many people do not eat according to their nutritional needs, but it is the palate that motivates them to eat uncontrolled foods. It may seem like a daily act, however it can be very harmful to health if foods with low nutritional value are abused and a high content of substances harmful to the body (such as fats trans).

Abusing the pleasurable act of eating can not only make us more tired and constantly on the hunt for more food, but it can also lead to serious health problems. Eating with the palate is a behavior that has to do with pleasure and therefore comes into play the reward system, mediated by dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter actively involved in reinforcing pleasurable behaviors such as sex or drug use.

Emotions affect our diet: emotional eating

Often people are very familiar with diet pedagogy, the problem is that they do not adhere to a diet for many reasons: lack of motivation, unrealistic goals, negative beliefs of self-efficacy, exposure to interfering stimuli and, above all 1 bad mood.

the relationship emotions-nutrition this is clear, because in times of emotional instability we are more likely to consume fatty foods. This is not positive for weight control and leads to excess fat in the diet. When we use a diet to calm our emotional state, it is called emotional eating.

Psychological and emotional variables are very important in order to be successful in the diet because for many people it is not an easy path. On the other hand, we need to understand human behavior and know that when we are anxious or have emotional issues, many people react with large amounts of food. Additionally, stress also leads to mood issues that influence food intake.

Depression and binge eating

In severe cases such as depression, it is common for people who are depressed to increase their food intake disproportionately. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) episodes of overeating can occur during depression, but no loss of control is felt. (What happens in binge eating).

The reason people with depression or emotional problems often go in search of food to feel better and calm their mood is that many foods contain tryptophan, an amino acid that causes the release of serotonin ( low serotonin levels are associated with depression and obsession).

Lack of serotonin causes various negative effects on the body, such as anxiety, sadness or irritability. Since the body does not produce tryptophan, it is necessary to achieve it from the diet. Therefore, foods rich in this amino acid act as natural antidepressants.

There are several studies that associate serotonin with a greater sense of well-being, relaxation, better sleep, greater self-esteem, greater focus and better mood. Additionally, serotonin has an important function in the brain as it balances other neurotransmitters such as dopamine or norepinephrine (norepinephrine). These neurotransmitters are important because they are linked to anxiety, anxiety, or eating disorders.

Foods to improve our well-being

The following is a list of Foods rich in tryptophan:

  • peacock
  • chicken
  • Milk
  • cheese
  • fish
  • u
  • Tofu
  • Soy
  • we
  • Chocolate
  • Chia seeds

Finally, with regard to serotonin, low levels of this neurotransmitter are associated with obsessive behaviors and binge eating disorders.

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, he explains that researchers at the USDA / ARS Child Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Texas Children’s Hospital in the United States have proven that the hormone estrogen can increase the production of serotonin to prevent binge eating.

Psychology applied to nutrition

As we mentioned, there is a relationship between psychology and nutrition. The so-called “nutritional psychology” deals with the study and application of these phenomena both in their normal conditions and in those occurring in pathology. The quality of the connection between the psyche, social, emotional and educational factors, and nutrition is essential for the healthy development of any person.

In the western world, and because of the existing socio-economic system, we have been educated to consume aesthetics. this causes pathologies or eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia if no work is done to minimize the effects of image culture. This need for exchange between disciplines such as nutrition and mental health, makes the contribution of psychology necessary for the healthy development of individuals.

For example, the problem of obesity is not just about weight loss, in many cases there are certain aspects involved that need to be addressed that don’t just have to do with the food. An obese individual since childhood has never had a representation of his slim body. Any change that occurs will not only affect your weight, but will impact your identity. Psychology therefore plays an important role in the well-being of people and nutrition is an important aspect for the full development of an individual.

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