Psychonutrition: what is it and what are the functions of this discipline

In recent years, the term known as “psychonutrition” has been gaining more and more popularity, although it is true that many professionals have been working in this field for many years.

Psychonutrition is a discipline that brings together two areas of health, which are psychology and nutrition. In this discipline, an approach is followed in which the thoughts, emotions and behaviors found in relation to food are addressed, instead of just focusing on finding food in isolation.

In this article we will see what the discipline of psychonutrition consists of. given that in recent years there has been an increase in the number of cases related to eating disorders, among others.

    What is psychonutrition?

    When we talk about psychonutrition we are referring to an interdisciplinary approach in which two very important disciplines in the field of health work together: psychology and nutrition. Professionals from both disciplines work together to respond effectively to various issues where poor eating habits and certain mental health problems come into play, such as mood disorders and/or certain eating disorders.

    Moreover, psychonutrition is a science that tries to study people’s relationship with food and eating habits, taking into account how the socio-family context, relationships in the different areas, body image, emotions, behaviors and associated thoughts can influence. This discipline not only deals with eating disorders but also looks at other issues that may be associated with eating such as anxiety, binge eating, food-related difficulties, or self-rejection. body, etc

    Two very important aspects related to psychonutrition that need to be considered are:

    • Address emotional and psychological factors related to eating processes.
    • Treatment of factors associated with nutrition and diet (eg, eating habits, eating habits, etc.).

    On the other hand, psychonutrition puede ayudar many people with various problems related to foodamong which it is worth highlighting:

    • Eating disorders, addressing issues such as self-esteem or distorted body image.
    • Obesity, when it is linked to a lack of motivation or self-esteem issues.
    • Mood disorders accompanied by eating problems (for example, emotional hunger).
    • Problems with self-control while eating.
    • People who are not sufficiently motivated to adopt healthy eating habits.
    • People who have done many diets and have not obtained satisfactory long-term results.

    In short, psychonutrition tries to offer patients a series of strategies, theories and concepts in order to work in a more positive way. the relationship they have with food, in relation to their self-image but also to their self-esteemas well as other possible associated psychological problems.

      Who works in the field of psychonutrition?

      As we have seen, in the field of psychonutrition, interdisciplinary work is carried out where psychologists and nutritionists intervene in order to be able to treat in the best possible way all the problems that patients may present (for example, eating disorders, emotional disorders eating, bad eating habits and misinformation or lack of motivation to improve them, etc.).

      Ahora well, to be sufficiently qualified for the exercise of the profession in this field of health the following conditions must be met:

      • Bachelor’s degree or diploma in psychology, as well as the possession of a master’s degree in health psychology (to be also registered).
      • Diploma or graduate in dietetics and nutrition or possess the title of technical superior in dietetics (also be college).

      It should be noted that a psychologist could not fulfill the functions of the nutritionist, at the same time that the nutritionist could not fulfill those of the psychologist either, and this is why interdisciplinary work involving two qualified professionals in both health disciplines is essential. However, one person may have both qualifications so that they can cover the whole job.

      It is important for the dietitian-nutritionist to be able to identify signs or possible risk factors for an eating disorder, problems related to emotional eating, binge eating, possible psychological problems associated with weight control or obesity or compulsive eating or other psychological problems associated with unhealthy eating. habits in order to be able to refer to a psychologist.

      At the same time, the psychologist must be able to assess and recognize possible eating habits that have been affected or inadequate, ignorance or erroneous beliefs about food, as well as being able to detect the factors that could cause nutritional deficits in order to deduce them. problems so that the dietician-nutritionist can solve them adequately, being the most advisable in this type of case that the two professionals work together.

        The functions of psychologists in the field of psychonutrition

        In the field of psychonutrition, the figure of the psychologist is very important, since it is he who would be responsible for identifying, analyzing and adequately managing all the psychological, emotional and behavioral processes associated with the implementation of a series of healthy habits in patients and, of course, to help by providing psychological support in order to maintain them in the long term.

        For that, psychological therapy or psychological support during the process of changing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a fundamental pillar of psychonutrition.

        Among the main functions of psychologists working in the field of psychonutrition, the following should be highlighted:

        • Detect the possible causes that lead each patient to have a bad relationship with food and work with them.
        • Provide support to patients so that they can become aware of their behavior with respect to food.
        • Help patients become aware of how they act in relation to exercise and body image.
        • Work with patients on body image and possible irrational beliefs associated with it.
        • I work with the patient regarding his refusal to adopt certain healthy habits.
        • Help the patient deal with possible obstacles and blockages, as well as work with emotions and demands.
        • Help the patient find coping strategies.
        • Work with the patient on self-care, self-concept and self-esteem.
        • Work on the motivation so that the patient leads a healthy lifestyle and eats properly.

        The functions of the dietitian-nutritionist in the field of psychonutrition

        In psychonutrition, the work of the dietitian-nutritionist is fundamental, since patients who receive this type of professional help suffer from certain difficulties related to eating habits.

        Here is the work of the dietitian-nutritionist: to offer basic and important information on an adequate and healthy diet, to educate on the control of food portions or to draw up adequate diet plans according to each patient after having made a complete preliminary evaluation, among others.

        In addition, the main functions of the dietitian-nutritionist in the field of psychonutrition would be those that we will enumerate below:

        • Assess the patient’s eating habits.
        • Explain important concepts: fat, weight, healthy and unhealthy foods, etc
        • Influencing work with strategies that can help the patient develop habit change.
        • Identify food myths and work on them.
        • Together with the psychologist, encourage the patient’s motivation to lead a healthy life.
        • Work on strategies that might help the patient control feelings of hunger and fullness.

        On the other hand, in the context of psychonutrition It is very important that there is continuous communication between the professionals with the aim that psychologists and nutritionists can guide the patient in the same direction, be able to detect in time any indication or sign that something is wrong and hold frequent meetings in order to jointly analyze and deepen everything which is associated with each patient’s problem in order to be able to provide the best possible help to improve their physical and psychological health.

        Bibliographic references

        • Amigo, I. (2020). Handbook of Health Psychology. Madrid: Ediciones Pyramid.
        • Beck, A. (1993). Cognitive therapy and emotional disorders. New York: Penguin.
        • Beck, JS (2010). The Beck Weight Loss Method: Train your mind to think like a thin person. Barcelona: Editorial Gedisa.
        • Herrera, G. & Andrades, C. (2019). Psychonutrition: Learn to have a healthy relationship with food. Cordoba: Arcopress Ediciones.
        • Morandé, G., Graell, M. & Blanco, MA (2014). Eating disorders and obesity: a global approach. Madrid: Editorial Médica Panamericana.
        • Roncero, M. & Perpiná, C. (2020). Eating Disorders and Food Ingestion. In A. Belloch, B. Sandín & F. Ramos (eds.). Handbook of Psychopathology. Volume I: Third Edition (pp. 415-440). Madrid: McGraw Hill.
        • Sevilla, J. & Pastor, C. (2021). Psychological treatments for eating disorders. In E. Fonseca (ed.). Manual of Psychological Treatments: Adults (pp. 483-504). Madrid: Ediciones Pyramid.

        Leave a Comment