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Behavioral Nutrition: A Mind-Body Approach

Our eating habits go far beyond what we eat to meet a physical need. What we choose to be part of our diet is always related to our habits and behaviors. That’s why it’s so important to talk about behavioral nutrition. 

Many people eat what they shouldn’t or consume an amount of food inadequate to their needs. In some cases, there needs to be more knowledge about good nutrition.

However, even among people who know the principles of healthy eating, there is a great difficulty: changing habits and behaviors. 

Behavioral nutrition proposes to help individuals identify, reflect and change their behavior concerning food. 

What Is Behavioral Nutrition? 

The relationship with food leads many people to present behavioral problems. Among the main ones are compulsive eating, the difficulty of losing weight or losing weight, and the feeling of guilt after a meal.  

This behavior may be routine and seem normal, but if not treated properly, it can lead to more serious eating disorders. 

To deal with questions like these, a new area of ​​knowledge in nutrition has gained a lot of strength – behavioral nutrition. 

The study of people’s behavior about food considers cultural, psychological, physiological, and emotional aspects. This type of approach departs from the practice of relying solely on the nutritional values ​​of food. 

Behavioral nutrition bets on a more personal treatment, seeking to help people and giving them autonomy. The emphasis is on hunger and satiety, seeking food more consciously.

Immediate weight loss is not the main objective of this nutrition, but to recover the pleasure of eating, avoiding the line of other rigid and traditional diets.  

As much as the pleasure of eating is in focus, the main objective is to seek guidance that will work personally for each individual, understanding their relationship with food. 

Weight loss begins when people learn to identify their emotions and not just seek comfort or consolation in food.    

What Is The Big Challenge Of Behavioral Nutrition?

The challenge is not restricted to behavioral nutrition. Encouraging people to maintain a healthy weight is a public health priority.

Data from the World Health Organization show that 2.3 billion people are overweight or obese worldwide. 

The extra kilos go far beyond appearance. Figures from the United Nations, and the UN, show that obesity contributes to four million deaths every year.

At the beginning of 2020, there were an estimated 672 million obese adults worldwide. The numbers of children and adolescents show that the problem does not only affect the elderly since about 338 million suffer from the disease. 

But when it comes to obesity, the problem is not just what you see in the mirror or on the scale. Excess weight makes the body vulnerable to the development of other diseases, such as inflammation, respiratory and heart problems, and even cancer. 

But gaining too much weight is not the only problem associated with a dysfunctional diet. 

Eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia, and restrictive eating disorders are frequent and can cause serious damage to physical and emotional health, raising important levels for the body’s health, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.

How Important Is A Behavioral Approach To Nutrition?

When we prepare a plate of food, we are looking for much more than meeting physical needs for survival. 

The choice of our food is everything we are. Experiences we live, memories, and traumas. We often seek warmth and bring up good times and good memories. 

There is no doubt about the relationship between behavior and food. But how does this knowledge apply to the nutritional approach? 

First, it must be done by a professional in the area and with proper medical follow-up. Some steps ensure the proper application of knowledge that involves therapeutic practices. 

In a conversation, the individual should tell a little about his habits. This is an important moment to identify possible inappropriate eating practices. 

What comes to your mind when we talk about what is inadequate in food? How much do we eat? Everything connected to the timing of the meal plays a very important role. 

The lack of regular meal times can affect the food choice and the amount consumed. Even the place where the person eats, and other environmental stimuli (such as the television on) interfere with the quality of food.

Without realizing it, these behaviors distract our attention from what we eat or how much food we eat. Thus, many people consume excessive amounts of some nutrients, while their diet becomes poor in others. 

What Emotions Affect Behavior And Eating? 

It is also important to be aware of the habit of compulsive eating. You know that hunger comes as an escape valve and makes you use food to ease stress, depression, anxiety, and other emotions, whether they are pleasant or not? 

You may have noticed some harmful habits in the way you eat. More than classic nutritional advice, behavioral nutrition encourages individuals to identify the associations they establish between their emotional state and food. 

In addition to identifying food-related problems, this area promotes reflection and identification of eating behaviors. 

Once you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to work on it. Depending on the degree and context that needs to be worked on, it is possible to seek support from doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, and therapists.

It is important to emphasize that the treatment will involve changing the diet and working on the emotional conflicts experienced by people, even before prescribing diets and physical exercises.


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