Nutritional psychology is the science of how nutrients affect mood and behavior.
- Includes a scientifically-based understanding of how nutrient intake impacts mood, stress tolerance, inflammation, energy, sleep, cognition, medication needs, and behavioral dysfunction.
- Diet is playing an increasingly important role in the mental health and well-being of individuals in westernized societies.
- People often eat to relieve feelings of anxiety or stress, without realizing that their dietary choices actually result in greater fatigue, stress, and mood imbalance over the long-term.
- These dietary influences on mood and behavior have an important impact on the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders, including possible misdiagnosis of non-psychiatric conditions created by today’s modern dietary lifestyle.
Nutritional Psychology examines the relationship between food and nutrition and our internal experience.
- Nutritional Psychology illuminates the biophysiological mechanisms, influenced by our nutrient intake, that underlie mood and behavior.
- Nutritional psychology provides mental health professionals another important layer for understanding a patient as a whole, interconnected person.
- Those in the field of psychology already assess all the psychosocial, medical, and developmental factors that may be contributing to mood and/or behavior dysfunction, but our current model is not considering nutrition as a piece of the puzzle.
Nutritional psychology bridges the gap between the field of psychology and integrative health.
- Integrative health is the recent movement in the healthcare towards a holistic, patient centered approach to healthcare.
- This movement is a holistic approach to care with the primary objective of treating a patient as a whole person not just a constellation of symptoms.
- The principle philosophy of this movement is that each patient represents a unique, complex, and interwoven set of influences that affect the intrinsic functionality of that individual. Thus, each of these influences must be addressed to achieve wellness.
- The field of nutritional psychology examines mental health in the context of nutritional needs/deficiencies and is an important piece of the puzzle when assessing a person as an integrated whole.
- Nutritional psychology is aligned with the principles of the integrative health movement and is an avenue for mental health providers to further participate in the integrative health movement as well as keep up with the state of the science.