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What Is Eating Psychology?

Learn what eating psychology is from Allegra Broft, M.D. in this Howcast video.


Well, eating psychology is, I guess in a way, pretty much like how the term sounds. It's the psychological factors that go into our eating decisions and our eating choices on a daily basis. Some of us don't even realize that there is an eating psychology. Isn't eating just about making three meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and eating to satiate our hunger?

Maybe some of us operate in a world that's just that straightforward and cut and dry where eating is about hunger and nothing else. But, most of us, maybe aware to ourselves or unaware to ourselves, have some psychological influences that affect our eating decisions as well. You're with a group of people. Maybe you make a different type of choice for your meal than you would if you were alone. You're in a good mood. That draws you to a certain type of eating. Maybe you want to go to a restaurant instead. Or, you're anxious. Your appetite drops a little bit and you eat a little bit less.

So, eating psychology is simply the world of different psychological factors, emotional factors that affect our eating choces. The things that influence our eating besides straight up hunger.

When people come to my office with eating problems we often try to apply psychological models to those types of eating problems. For example, in the cognitive behavioral therapy model of certain types of eating problems we take a look at the link between behaviors that a person wants to correct like binge eating, for example, or vomiting behavior, and how that's so tightly coupled with dietary choices and dietary rules. And, how those rules are so tightly coupled to a person's perception of their shape and weight. And, then how those perceptions or over-preoccupations with shape and weight are often so deeply tied to other types of psychological issues like low mood, like perhaps identity issues or low self-esteem.

There's no one eating psychology that is the same for two people. Everybody's eating psychology is different. If you have an eating problem that's going on, certainly diving into that problem with a therapist who can help you think about the relationship between some of your choices and your own internal emotional world can be an important piece of your recovery process.

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