Nutritional Psychology Programs and Education
There is a crucial need to deliver better education to the public and clinicians about the role of diets and nutrients in sustaining mental health (Huang 2019).
Nutritional Psychology (NP) is the area of study that examines the relationship between our dietary intake patterns and our mood, behavior, and mental health. This examination includes the psychological, behavioral, cognitive, perceptual/sensory, interoceptive and psychosocial elements of psychological functioning and mental health related to dietary and nutrient intake.
1. NP Elements Diagram
This comprehensive view of the Diet-Mental Health Relationship allows us to develop a deeper understanding of how these patterns influence our mood, behavior, and mental health.
2. Nutritional Psychology Diet Mental Health Relationship (DMHR)
Education in Nutritional Psychology
NP education provides professionals with the conceptualization, tools and skills necessary to address DMHR-related issues in client care. These skills are aimed at creating positive changes for individuals in all NP-related aspects of psychological functioning and mental health.
The first four-year university-based Educational Curriculum in Nutritional Psychology resided from 2008-2020* at John F. Kennedy University. The courses and Certificate program were designed to assist mental health professionals, nurses, counselors, and marriage and family therapists, with conceptualization in the field of Nutritional Psychology, along with an introduction to some of the applied psycho-educational tools within NP. A 3-unit scope of practice course was included in the certificate to provide guidance on how to incorporate NP education into practice within the scope of practice.
- Introduction to Nutritional Psychology
- Nutritional Psychology Tools: Assessment & Macronutrient Remediation
- Integrating Nutritional Psychology into Clinical Practice
- Effects of Nutrition on Clinical Disorders
- Sugar & Emotion
- The Stress-Mood Axis
- The Gut-Brain Axis
The JFKU Certificate in Nutritional Psychology is currently being taught out, and CNP is developing the next-generation curriculum in Nutritional Psychology available through CNP beginning in 2021-2022.
The Center for Nutritional Psychology – Developing the field of Nutritional Psychology from a scientific perspective
The organization fostering the development of the field of Nutritional Psychology is called The Center for Nutritional Psychology (CNP). CNP was founded in 2013 to support the development of the field of Nutritional Psychology, and to serve as an online resource for those seeking to understand the role that diet plays in mood, behavior, and mental health.
The Center’s mission is to provide mental health professionals, dietitians, health coaches, physicians, researchers, educators, students, parents, and interested individuals with access to research, information, and skills in the field of Nutritional Psychology. CNP believes that mental health professionals benefit from having access to formal training in Nutritional Psychology, and that NP should be considered a core concept within the field of mental health.
NP Curriculum for Undergraduate University Students
This mini-curriculum is for university professors and college instructors who wish to introduce NP as a special mini-unit providing students with a modularized one or two (50-minute class session) introduction to Nutritional Psychology. Presentation materials, background research, methodology, discussion points, experiential exercise, and quiz materials are included.
NP Curriculum for Mental Health Professionals
This course introduces mental health professionals to the field of Nutritional Psychology. Research highlights from areas encompassing the field are presented, along with concepts, and introductory psycho-educational tools for developing both practitioner and client awareness in the DMHR. Scope of Practice instruction is provided.
NP Curriculum for Pediatric Health Professionals
This course introduces pediatric and child mental healthcare professionals to a set of perceptual educational tools aimed at cuing a child’s awareness of the Diet-Mental Health Relationship during age-appropriate developmental periods. Childhood and adolescence are an important time for establishing healthy eating patterns into adulthood (Francis et. al 2019). In addition to a lack of education in the Diet-Mental Health Relationship for children or adolescents in the current mental health or healthcare system, ample evidence linking dietary intake (nutrients, quality and pattern) with child and adolescent mental health is available.
NP Animated Curriculum for Children
This online animated curriculum is designed to include cutting edge research embedded within an online series of animated videos for elementary-school age kids. The approach of “eat your vegetables” isn’t working. NP animated curriculum for kids is designed to be cool and engaging while incorporating cutting edge research in the Diet-Mental Health Relationship.
NP Culinary Cooking Skills for Children
Research is demonstrating the importance of teaching children and adolescents cooking skills. Better cooking skills lead to better cooking skills self-efficacy, behavioral change, and healthier outcomes (see the cooking studies in the CNP Parent Resource Library). These courses provide basic cooking skills for children, and teach them how these skills can be used to improve the way they feel.
CNP believes that all mental health professionals can benefit from understanding the basic principles of Nutritional Psychology. Providing education in NP curriculum will help accomplish this goal.
*Accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), The California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS), and the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN)
Huang, Q., Liu, H., Suzuki, K., Ma, S., Liu, C., Linking What We Eat to Our Mood: A Review of Diet, Dietary Antioxidants, and Depression. Antioxidants 2019, 8(9), 376.
Diet and psychological:
Diet and behavioral:
Diet and cognitive:
Diet and perceptual/sensory
Diet and interoceptive:
Diet and psychosocial:
Diet-Mental Heath Relationship (DMHR).
Introduction to Nutritional Psychology
Nutritional Psychology Tools: Assessment and Macronutrient Remediation
Integrating Nutritional Psychology into Clinical Practice
Effects of Nutrition on Clinical Disorders
Sugar and Emotion
The Stress-Mood Axis
The Gut-Brain Axis
Next-generation Curriculum in Nutritional Psychology
The Center for Nutritional Psychology
Francis HM, Stevenson RJ, Chambers JR, Gupta D, Newey B, Lim CK (2019) A brief diet intervention can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults – A randomised controlled trial. PLoS ONE 14(10): e0222768.