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Psychology of the feeding: definition and applications

Psychology of the feeding: definition and applications

September 7, 2023

Psychology and nutrition are two disciplines that are linked , as are psychology and sports.

That is why, in recent years, there is 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 the psychology of nutrition and we will explain what it consists of and in what areas it applies.

Psychology applied to food and its utility

The truth is that if a positive mentality affects optimal sports performance, the management of emotions is crucial when following a dietary plan . But psychological factors are not only important for adherence to the diet (if our goal is to lose weight since obesity is affecting our health), but psychology also provides knowledge on how we can maximize the experience at mealtime .

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

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

Diet and psychology: what is the relationship?

The relationship between nutrition and psychology becomes especially important in those cases in which some individual has serious difficulties to achieve goals, because many times a person may have high motivation at first, but as the weeks progress the adherence It gets harder

One of the best known professionals for their research and for providing scientific data on the psychological tricks that can be very useful when it comes to losing weight is Brian Wansink, from Cornell University. Such is his fame that he has even been recruited by the White House to develop the nutritional and food guides in the United States.

Surely, many individuals do not know the importance of the psychology of food, but scientific research has shown that practicing exercise and following a diet are not enough to maintain long-term results. Actually, in cases of obesity, there is a high percentage of failure if psychological variables such as emotions are not taken into account , expectations or beliefs in the treatment.

  • You can delve into this topic in our article: "Emotions are the main obstacle to losing weight"

Mental health and nutrition

Emotions, undoubtedly, are key in adherence to a diet, and that is why experts recommend comprehensive treatment in cases of obesity. That is, especially in these cases, the presence of a psychologist is essential .

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

Therefore, this varied and complex context requires a treatment in which a multidisciplinary program must be prioritized, instead of separate solutions. In this sense, cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be very effective, and you can check it in our article: "The application of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in the treatment of obesity".

Emotional feeding

It is common for many people to receive food education and know what to eat and what not to eat, however, are unable to eat healthy despite wanting it .

This often happens not only because of irrational beliefs or unrealistic goals, but because of a low state of mind. People, when we are depressed, stressed or anxious, eat uncontrollably: either we choke when we are sad or we eat little and badly in stressful moments.

Now, if our mood affects food, food also affects our mood. When we are more nourished we enjoy greater attention, concentration and energy level , but also, some experts claim that some nutrients like tryptophan (serotonin precursor, the so-called happiness hormone) also make us feel better. Tryptophan is found in some foods, such as cheese, chicken, or chocolate.

Neurogastronomy: what is it?

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

Thus, the scientific and technological advance has allowed to know more deeply what are the processes that develop in our body and our mind around food, because eating is not only an instinctive act, but the five senses come into play, in addition to certain psychological aspects such as expectations, memory or emotions.

The feeding provides us with the necessary nutrients for our organs to work properly. However, we also eat for other reasons, for example, when we meet with friends to enjoy 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 carried out on the influence of psychology at the time of eating. Some of these investigations state that:

  • The environmental music of the local where we eat has a great influence on how we value the taste of food.
  • The color red increases the appetite , that is why some brands such as 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 the drinks enhances the flavor or aroma.
  • In a relaxed atmosphere and more sophisticated people eat less
  • With a more stimulated environment, people eat more Quick.
  • The rock music in the background makes us eat faster and, therefore, we consume more calories.
  • The bright light and the yellow color makes us eat faster and more food.
  • The well-lit restaurant makes us order a lot of junk food.
  • Annoying noises make us eat faster, in an unpleasant and uncontrolled way.
  • Watching television distracts us and makes us eat more.

Metabolism & Nutrition, part 1: Crash Course A&P #36 (September 2023).

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