Why Every Health Coach Needs Food Psychology
Everywhere we turn in today’s world we encounter information about what we should and shouldn’t be eating. We are inundated with various diets, cure-all supplement claims, and experts claiming to “have the answer”. Despite the accessibility of nutritional know-how, obesity rates are still on the rise. The problem is no longer a deficit in nutritional information. Instead, modern day health problems are much more likely to stem from information-overload.
In the midst of all of the dietary do’s and don’ts, we have become numb to our own body wisdom and confused by conflicting information. The field of nutrition is being asked to adapt to this emerging landscape with new tools and fresh insights. A solid understanding in food psychology helps nutrition professionals guide their clients from information-based eating, or “high-fact diets“, to nourishment from the heart.
One thing that is clear in the world of nutrition is that each individual is unique and that no diet works for everyone throughout the course of their entire life. Guided by body wisdom, our clients can tune into what the appropriate foods are for their unique constitution through exploration and experimentation. The field of food psychology teaches professionals how to guide clients throughout this process. Everyday health experts scratch their heads in frustration when clients complain:
“I know what I should be doing, I’m just not doing it.”
It’s not enough to provide our clients with a meal plan and a set of dietary guidelines. Food Psychology explores the all-important whys rather than the whats. If someone doesn’t understand why they want to lose weight and feel healthy or why they are binging on sugary and starchy foods, than what they should be eating takes on very little importance. Emerging research is teaching us that what we eat is only a fraction of the health picture. Our thoughts, emotions, and relationships are all essential aspects that factor into a picture of health and weight.
Food Psychology is a powerful doorway to personal transformation that goes beyond diet.
From this place we launch into understanding ourselves on a deeper level that allows for life-changing shifts to emerge in our relationships, our career, and our state of mind. At the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, we teach our students to work with clients in a way that explores emotional, spiritual, and physical influences on health, weight, and well-being.
Lastly, promoting careful adherence to a set of dietary principles oftentimes has the opposite effect than what we are hoping to achieve with our clients. An obsession over “eating perfectly” quickly creates a stress physiology within the body. The stress response has disastrous consequences for metabolism and weight, as Marc David explains in his article on the Stress-Metabolism Connection.
If you are considering becoming a health coach or already practice in this field, it might be time to explore how much further you can take your practice with an understanding of Food and Eating Psychology. Your clients need you to step beyond the current approach in health and integrate the ground-breaking insights of this burgeoning field in the nutrition world.
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014
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