Nutritional Counseling: A New and Emerging Healthcare Field
Updated: Jul 2
Nutrition counselling is an ongoing process in which a health professional, usually a registered dietitian, works with an individual to assess his or her usual dietary intake and identify areas where change is needed. It is a relatively new area in the mental healthcare field, aiming to treat imbalances that lead to psychological problems through a therapeutic diet and supplements. It is often offered in the context of general psychological counselling.
Why Is Good Nutrition Important?
Good nutrition is a critical part of health and development. It is related to improved infant, child and maternal health, stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lower risk of non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease), and longevity.
Most people know good nutrition and physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight. But the benefits of good nutrition go beyond weight. Good nutrition can help reduce the risk of some diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some cancers, and osteoporosis. It can also reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, improve well-being, improve the ability to fight off illness, improve the ability to recover from illness or injury and increase energy levels.
Good nutrition means your body gets all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to work its best. This can be achieved by eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods that are also low in calories.
In summary, good nutrition is important for overall health and well-being. It can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve physical and mental health, and increase energy levels. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods is key to achieving good nutrition.
What Poor Nutrition Does to Your Mental Health
Poor nutrition may be a causal factor in the experience of low mood and other mental health issues. According to some research, diet influences numerous aspects of health, including weight, athletic performance, and risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It may also affect mental health 2.
Nutritional psychiatry is an emerging area of research specifically looking at the role of nutrition in the development and treatment of mental health problems. Several observational studies have shown a link between overall diet quality and the risk of depression. For example, one review of 21 studies from 10 countries found that a healthful dietary pattern — characterized by high intakes of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, low-fat dairy, and antioxidants, as well as low intakes of animal foods — was associated with a reduced risk of depression.
Conversely, a Western-style diet — involving a high intake of red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, and potatoes, as well as a low intake of fruit and vegetables — was linked with a significantly increased risk of depression.
Poor nutrition may negatively affect mental health by increasing the risk of depression and other mental health issues. This is a huge reason why nutrition counselling is a necessary part of improving a person’s mental state. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods can help improve mental health and well-being.
A Healthy Brain From Good Nutrition
Good nutrition can positively affect mental health by promoting and maintaining healthy brain development. A healthy diet is associated with better mental health outcomes, whereas a poor diet is associated with a greater risk of depression and anxiety.
Healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, are associated with better mental health than “unhealthy” eating patterns, such as the Western diet 2. The effects of certain foods or dietary patterns on glycaemia, immune activation, and the gut microbiome may play a role in the relationships between food and mood.
Good nutrition can positively affect mental health by promoting healthy brain development and reducing the risk of depression and anxiety. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods can help improve mental health and well-being.
Nutrition Counselling Benefits
Nutrition counselling can help individuals make positive changes in their eating habits and lifestyle to improve their overall health and well-being. A registered dietitian can provide personalized nutrition advice based on an individual’s unique needs and goals. They can also provide support and guidance to help individuals make sustainable changes to their eating habits.
Nutrition counselling can be beneficial for individuals with a wide range of health concerns, including weight management, chronic disease management, food allergies or intolerances, and digestive issues. It can also be helpful for individuals looking to improve their overall health and prevent chronic diseases.
In summary, nutrition counselling is a valuable tool for individuals looking to improve their health and well-being through dietary changes. A registered dietitian can provide personalized advice and support to help individuals achieve their nutrition goals.
Nutritional Counselling for Obesity
Obesity is a growing problem worldwide. According to data collected between 2017 and 2020, 41.9% of adults in the U.S. have obesity 1. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people have obesity—650 million adults, 340 million adolescents and 39 million children, according to WHO.
Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. It is most commonly measured using the body mass index (BMI) scale. The World Health Organization defines BMI as a simple index of weight for height that is commonly used to classify underweight, overweight and obesity in adults. For adults, a BMI greater than or equal to 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI greater than or equal to 30 is considered obese.
Nutrition counselling can be an effective tool for behaviour change and can be used in the successful treatment of chronic diseases, including obesity. During treatment, individuals work with a registered dietitian to make a nutrition plan just for them. A registered dietitian is a type of healthcare provider with special training in nutrition. This training qualifies them to give counselling on nutrition.
During medical nutrition therapy, the dietitian will look closely at the individual’s eating habits and help them set new nutrition goals. The dietitian can help set realistic weight loss goals and tell the individual how many calories to eat per day to lose weight steadily and safely. They can also help plan a healthy, nutritious diet and provide support and guidance to help individuals make sustainable changes to their eating habits.
In summary, nutrition counselling can be an effective tool for individuals with obesity looking to make positive changes in their eating habits and lifestyle to improve their overall health and well-being. A registered dietitian can provide personalized nutrition advice based on an individual’s unique needs and goals.