Health Psychology plays an important role in bringing about a healthy change in one’s lifestyle. It mainly focuses on how to fulfill the body’s nutritional requirements by consuming certain items in specific portions, measuring weight by using specific techniques and also modifying eating patterns by using behavior modification techniques etc. This is the ultimate guide to obtaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
For achievement of optimal health, it is necessary that one adopts good eating behaviors.
Starving as well as overeating are detrimental to one’s health psychology and may lead to a number of health complications. One should consume a diet that provides all basic nutrients out of the food pyramid. Poor nutritional choices lead to one of the leading worldly problem that is obesity.
Obesity is caused by the accumulation of fat cells and can lead to heart diseases, diabetes type 2, specific cancers, kidney problems and even death at times. Studies have concluded that women, minority group and lower socioeconomic class individuals are at a higher risk for obesity than the rest of the population. The second common health psychology problem that results from poor eating habits is malnutrition. The root cause behind this is discovered to be low socioeconomic status because of which the individual fails to provide its body with vitamins, minerals and fibers etc. that it needs for proper functioning. Anorexia and bulimia nervosa, osteoporosis and gout are some outcomes of such faulty eating patterns. Malnutrition can also lead to complicated pregnancies as well.
Two factors are known to have an impact our eating habits i.e. Biological and Psychosocial factors.
Biological factors include feelings of starvation, hunger, satiation, energy production and age of an individual. Food is consumed for the production of energy which is needed to function routinely and in emergency situations. Carbohydrates are largely utilized when in crisis.
When not consumed it leads to lethargy and starvation which can also contribute to one’s death. Hunger stimulates our eating and drinking behaviors and is marked by strong urges to consume food. This sensation is affected by a number of factors such as hormonal (insulin specifically) regulation and stomach distensions. Having its biological roots does not prevent socio-cultural and psychological factors from affecting it. Food choices depend largely on culture e.g. frog legs are Chinese and French cuisines specialties. Pica is a psychological disorder in which non nutritious substances are consumed by clients because of having queer cravings for them.
Craving weird combinations are more common in pregnant ladies. When a person has satisfied his hunger, he feels full and at ease. This feeling is known as satiation. People go through painful procedure such as stomach stapling etc. so they can feel satisfied quickly before they resort to eating more food than what is required by their body. All these biological factors are closely related to one’s age. During infancy, a child fulfills his nutritional requirements by consuming breast milk or milk formulas.
Later on, the child is fed semi solids i.e. purees and cereals etc. Basically in the early ears the child requires more food for proper growth and development of the body and brain. In adulthood, it is essential that a person modifies his diet as intake of the same amount of calories as in childhood could lead to fat deposits in the body. Fat is helpful in insulating the body and for energy production in the absence of food but it also results in a person being obese.
Psychological factors are named so because it is difficult to distinguish among the two aspects which are psychological and social. People attribute their eating habits to a wide range of emotions at times e.g. more food is consumed when angry, stressed or bored. Secondly our food preferences are highlighted or influenced by modelling, observation and vicarious learning which are all psychological means of acquiring information. Food and occasions are interrelated and it comes under the category of social influences. E.g. People tend to overeat on ‘Eid, Christmas or birthday parties etc. as an expression of festivity. A term that people often confuse with hunger is appetite. Hunger is known to be biological whereas appetite is something that is backed up by psychological and social factors.
It is triggered by texture, odor, taste and smell of food and is affected by environmental conditions as well such as weather. E.g. people prefer eating warm and high calorie foods in winter to facilitate insulation and light and refreshing foods during summer. Childhood experiences also mark our eating preferences. They further develop and change with age and as we are exposed to new environments and experiences. Friends, school and family help in shaping one’s choice of food.
Similarly, one’s religion, culture, ethnicity, occupation and financial statuses influence food choices and portion sizes as well. Advertisements also play an essential role in stimulating hunger and creating association with certain occasions e.g. Christmas etc. Studies have stated that it is essential to maintain an optimal diet if you are to spend a self-sufficient life. In order to do so one has to maintain an adequacy that is the consumption of foods in the right proportion, balance which refers to including items from all food groups equally and lastly variety so one does not overdose on the contaminants that are present in foods.
Vegetables, grains, milk and fruit are known to be some of its rich sources. Simple carbohydrates present in fizzy drinks and other sugary foods should be prevented as they are known as empty calories and lead to obesity. Instead a diet which is high in fiber is recommended as it leaves the individual feeling satisfied and he is less likely to indulge in overeating. Protein is the next important nutrient which helps in muscle and tissue building and is detected to be in foods like meat, vegetables and pulses etc. Oils and fats are not to be excluded completely from one’s diet because as mentioned earlier fat helps in insulating the body and is needed for energy production.
Due to insufficient intake of certain nutrients such as fibers, vitamins and minerals, complications occur which are known as deficiencies. Deficiencies of vitamin C in body lead to scurvy, bleeding gums, depression and even slow down healing processes. Insufficient intake of Vitamin A leads to night blindness and results in a cramped body. Deficiencies of vitamin D can also be found in people regardless of its main source being universal i.e. the sun. It leads to osteoporosis which is the extreme weakening of bones. Fiber deficiencies lead to constipation and common consequences resulting from lack of water are dehydration. Diabetic and blood pressure patients should avoid meals rich in sugar and salt respectively and over consumption of foods rich in simple sugars lead to obesity as discussed earlier.
Health body weight has been defined as a balanced state in which your level of activity and your eating behaviors complement, each other. Such an approach should be adopted that only dissolves the harmful component of the body i.e. fat and not the essential components of the body which are muscle, water and bone. By dividing one’s weight and height together we acquire one’s body mass index which defines a healthy weight range for individuals according to their age.
However, it relays no information about one’s body weight. Measuring the distance between one’s waist and hips is a way to measure fat distribution in the body. Obesity around the stomach region is the most harmful and thus indicated that the individual is taking a high calorie diet and should switch to a lower calorie one.
Employing behavior modification techniques, clinical nutritionists can help you modify your lifestyle Retrospective and Prospective methods are ways you can keep record of what you’re consuming on a daily basis. They will mostly likely make you drop high calorie foods as it’s tiresome to note everything down and save records for longer periods of time. Drawing a comparison with ideal diet provided guidelines on what food groups to switch with and also educated one regarding paring of two healthy behaviors. Food pyramid guide can be used to devise suitable menus for our three meals. Relapse situations are usually a result of eating with company and emotional reasoning.
Theories and experimental evidence supports the fact that switching from meat to legumes and grains do result in a decrease in cardiovascular diseases. Pairing dietary changes with exercise schedules can also result in weight loss. The word diet is usually refereed to restricted patterns of eating in which insufficient nutrients are being consumed that decrease your bone and muscle mass. Yoyo dieting has been termed more dangerous in which a person keeps going from shedding weight and gaining it again. Those who adopt strict diets usually end up gaining more weight as even the smallest quantity of carbohydrates develops into fat and metabolism rate decreases.
The most effective strategy to lose a few pounds is to engage yourself in aerobic exercises. Obesity and malnutrition are the major problems associated with eating behaviors and can lead to further complications such as cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis etc. To avoid the development of such complications it is advised to take a little of everything from all six sections of the food pyramids thus adopt a balanced diet. One can apply certain health psychology techniques to modify eating behaviors. Guidelines regarding maintaining weight have also been provided and it is shown that culture and societal factors have a role to play in the occurrence of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa.