We are dedicated to defining, promoting and developing the field of Nutritional Psychology.

JFK Certificate Program

John F. Kennedy (JFK) University: Nutritional Psychology Certificate Program

In this online certificate program, clinicians will gain knowledge and understanding of the emerging field of nutritional psychology, which illuminates the science of how nutrients affect mood and behavior. Participants will explore the potential impact diet has on the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, including possible misdiagnosis of non-psychiatric conditions created by today’s modern dietary lifestyle. Clinicians will learn the language, skills, principles, and philosophy needed to work in conjunction with integrative medicine providers and to better facilitate a holistic approach to mental health care. Continuing education credit hours (CEs) are available as John F. Kennedy University, Continuing Education is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. John F. Kennedy University, Continuing Education maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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Introduction to Nutritional Psychology (5 hours)

This course provides a foundation for understanding the science of how foods impact mood, behavior, and emotions. Clinicians will learn which food groups contain the nutrients that synthesize mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters in the brain, and how a deficiency in these nutrients can lead to depression, fatigue, insomnia, moodiness, obesity and carbohydrate cravings. The course will introduce mental health professionals to the most common sub-clinical physiological states the body experiences in response to the typical American dietary pattern. Knowledge of this information will become increasingly necessary as clinicians work in conjunction with integrative healthcare professionals to solve dietary-related behavioral problems and facilitate behavioral change.

Instructors: Ephi Lu, MS, DipCN & Amanda Hull, PhD

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Nutritional Psychology Tools: Assessment & Macronutrient Remediation (5 hours)

The Western dietary pattern has been implicated in an increased risk for depression and anxiety. As a result, it is becoming increasingly necessary for mental health professionals to develop an awareness of the causal role that diet plays in mood and mental health. This course offers clinicians a scientifically-based understanding of how daily dietary intake can lead to emotional, mental and behavioral imbalance, and introduces tools capable of assessing and remediating these imbalances. The 3-Day Food Journal is a tool that allows clients and practitioners to self-identify the impact their daily dietary intake may be having on their mood. Based on the results of the 3-Day Food Journal, Macronutrient Mood Therapy (MMT), a method of nutritional remediation used to correct daily dietary imbalances, will be presented. Knowledge of these tools will become increasingly necessary as clinicians work in conjunction with integrative medicine professionals to solve dietary-related behavioral problems and facilitate behavioral change.

Instructors: Ephi Lu, MS, DipCN & Amanda Hull, PhD

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Integrating Nutritional Psychology Knowledge into Clinical Practice (4 hours)

Clinicians engaged in the nutritional psychology certification will gain valuable new skills in understanding, interpreting, and improving mood and mental health. Understanding how to appropriately and legally apply these new skills is the focus of this course. Upon its completion, clinicians will have a thorough understanding of how to ethically, safely, and legally use nutritional psychology to inform clinical practice and learn when and how to refer to other integrative medicine professionals.

Instructors: Amanda Hull, PhD & Ephi Lu, MS, DipCN

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The Effects of Nutrition on Clinical Disorders (5 hours)

The most common mental health disorders, including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will be discussed in the context of nutrient deficiencies. The nutrients used in the treatment of these disorders will be outlined. The metabolic processes and the micro-/macronutrients involved in the production of the “classic” neurotransmitters related to these disorders will be presented.

Instructors: Amanda Hull, PhD & Alyssa Adams, PsyD, CNS

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Sugar and Emotion (4 hours)

Research is demonstrating the behavioral and neurochemical effects of excessive dietary sugar intake, and sugar’s powerful drug-like (opioid) effects on the brain and body. In addition to being increasingly linked to mood, excessive sugar intake in the American population is now taking center stage in the pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease, and is now being implicated in facilitating certain types of cancers. This course will present research illustrating the neurochemical, psychological and behavioral effects of sugar on mood and behavior. The dietary condition induced by improper sugar intake, known as Functional Hypoglycemia (FH) will be reviewed, and the Functional Hypoglycemia Questionnaire (FHQ) will be introduced. Clinicians will have the opportunity to use this information in combination with the principals learned in the Nutritional Psychology Tools: Assessment & Macronutrient Remediation course to better understand the impact of dietary sugar intake on mood and behavior.

Instructors: Ephi Lu, MS, DipCN & Aska Hokazono, RD

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The Stress-Mood Axis (5 hours)

The face of disease has shifted in the last hundred years. The primary diseases affecting us today are ones where damage accumulates gradually: including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and autoimmune illnesses. And for many more individuals, mood instability, pervasive fatigue, and general ‘unwellness’ can persist, even in the absence of the ability to detect any clinical (diagnosable) disease. There is evidence linking these pervasive states of illness to a chronically overworked stress system. As this course will explore in detail, chronic stress can create dysregulation within the body’s primary stress system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis, along with short-term mediation from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), controls the stress response in humans, and in doing so, modulates stress-related illnesses and the chronic (and pervasive) feelings of ‘unwellness’ that some individuals experience. The purpose of this course is to explain the physiological mechanisms of chronic stress, as well as how to assess for the psychological and physical manifestations of HPA-axis Dysregulation (HPA-D). Methods for stabilizing the HPA axis and promoting HPA-D recovery will also be proposed in the form of an integrative, evidence-based model called Stress System Restorative Therapy (SSRT).

Instructors: Ephi Lu, MS, DipCN & Louis Lasprugato, LCSW

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The Gut-Brain Axis: Linking Behavior to Gastrointestinal Function and Food Sensitivities (3 hours)

The network of neurons in the gastrointestinal system is so extensive it is now being referred to as “The Second Brain.” Research is identifying the important role that gut bacteria plays in the bidirectional communication between the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) and the brain (the gut-brain axis), and is demonstrating how these organisms impact stress hormones and neurotransmitters related to stress, anxiety, and depressive behaviors. Additionally, food sensitivities can negatively impact the gut-brain axis. Consuming foods one is sensitive to can heighten the stress response and predispose individuals to increased subclinical states of anxiety, emotional instability, depression, and fatigue. This course will present research on the dynamic interplay between functional gastrointestinal disorders, food sensitivities, and stress-related psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, the mechanisms by which antidepressants are used for gastrointestinal disorders including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and gluten intolerance will be presented. Integrative approaches to support mood through addressing the gut and food sensitivities will be presented.

Instructors: Alyssa Adams, PsyD, CNS, Amanda Hull, PhD, Caryn Seebach, PsyD, & Jill Sheppard Davenport, MS, CNS

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Incorporating Nutritional
Psych Education

If you have incorporated Nutritional Psych education into your work, please let us know!