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Monday, December 05, 2022

Mental health and its relationship with food

Mental health and its relationship with food

When we talk about mental health we refer to a wide range of activities, directly or indirectly, linked to the factor of mental well-being included in the definition of health of the World Health Organization (WHO), which defines it as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

Promoting mental health in a society refers to the well-being, prevention of mental disorders, treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by these disorders. In this sense, the Lic. Mara Fernandez, psychologist specializing in Eating Disorders; and the Lic. Agustina Murcho, nutritionist specialist in eating disorders; They talk about the relationship between mental health and nutrition, as well as the consequences of restrictive diets.

“Health requires a global vision of the individual. The body cannot be divided into two separate entities: body and mind. You must have a comprehensive view of the subject in order to provide you with better care and thus ensure a better quality of life. This includes thinking and evaluating each one as a whole: in their daily activities, in their diet, in their rest, in their life project, in their relationships, their behavior“, explains Lic. Fernández (@hablar_sana).

Healthy eating sustains It’s not about having an obsessive dite, strict or restrictive in terms of what we eat. Rather, it is having a balanced diet that includes all the nutrients. “Obsessive thinking about the body and food generate pathologies that have a negative impact on the total health of the person.”

Lic. Murcho (@nutricion.ag) agrees on the importance of having a varied diet —which means incorporating the necessary nutrients so that the body can function properly and have a healthy quality of life— and adds that nutrition, in its In turn, it implies knowing ourselves, not only knowing what to eat because it is more nutritious or not, goes for physical and mental health. “It is important to have a good diet to prevent both physical and mental illnesses and to have a better quality of life for all stages,” he explains.

Restricting calories, nutrients, and pleasure causes deregulate neurotransmitters that affect emotions, pleasure, mood, and sleep. Restrictions increase desire, frustrate and irritate us, and no matter how healthy we eat, if we feel that way, it is no longer healthy. It is also not healthy for mental health to be looking at the ingredients all the time because it becomes an obsession.”

This, over time, can lead to eating disorders, alterations in eating behavior that have to do with emotional issues. They usually start to develop from a diet, a restriction. Of course, not everyone who starts a diet develops an eating disorder, but there are a lot of factors that can cause them.

“To recognize them, I use the image of an iceberg a lot: at first you only see the tip that comes to the surface, but the size of that iceberg, what supports it, is not seen. In an eating disorder you see the symptom, it is say the behavior that the person has with respect to food, a behavior that is not healthy. What is below are the multiple factors that cause it and make the person more likely to suffer from it: unresolved traumas, problems with relationships, difficulty solving problems, there may have been abuse, family conflicts, bullying, low self-esteem. There may also be a neurobiological disorder,” Murcho details.

That is why it is also important to differentiate the different types of hunger, because “one does not eat only because of real hunger but because of emotional hunger”, and it must be taken into account to be healthy in every way. Just as it can happen with the most restrictive eating disorders, there are people who restrict themselves for emotional reasons. “It’s not just a question of nutrients and what I’m eating, but food is a whole“, he concludes.

“It is important to understand that we must not leave aside that healthy eating is not only what has to do with food, since it also has to do with what we consume from the environment, from social networks and from everyday life,” he adds. Fernandez.

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