There’s something that’s so well-known that no one really discusses it anymore: Our mental health–which includes emotional, psychological and social well-being–influences the way we think, feel, relate to, decide and act in life. What’s more: Experts say the intimacy between mind and food is two-way, because enjoying a healthy, hearty meal has a positive effect on our psychological and emotional health and, conversely, the discomfort caused by conflicts or imbalances. From our inner world, it can lead us to negative eating behaviors.
The pandemic is leaving its mark on our psyche, experts warn with increasing insistence. “What we eat and how we eat it is a key factor in improving our mental health and psychological well-being, aspects that should be given importance after a very difficult year and months,” says Dr. Lopez Ebor, from the European group. ORPEA specializes in mental health.
“Good nutritional status is closely related to good mental health, and gastronomy is a key point of patients’ experience,” says Paula Martinez, director of this psychological center. “In this clinic, the majority of patients suffering from depression, anxiety and personality disorders are treated. The moments of contentment and joy that a good meal can generate, undoubtedly aid them in the development they receive in their group treatments with their physicians.”
“Gastronomy is a complement and a boost to improvement,” notes Martinez, who also highlights that “it has been proven that high quality products, great presentation and excellent preparation, generate the well-being and feel of clinic patients. They are more accommodating to their usual lives, which is very important in terms of their experiences and emotions. “.
For his part, Chef Diego Guerrero is convinced based on his own experience: “It has been proven that there is a relationship between food and mental health, between gastronomy and psychological well-being. People’s emotional states have a direct impact on their health.”
For the chef, “Cooking consists of feelings, it appeals to emotions. When you cook for someone, that generates feelings and, in general, happiness. We know that a healthy diet helps to rest better, not stress the liver and other organs.” In the end, everything is inextricably linked. The way we eat directly affects our mood, and therefore our health. From the point of view of restoration and gastronomy, it is not the same as cooking in a home, clinic or restaurant, but there must always be some general characteristics , such as affection, perseverance, love, dedication and passion. A product.”
What the chef says is perfectly in line with what the Centta Institute points out: “The relationship between our food and our well-being is a two-way street, since both sides of our lives have a reciprocal influence. For example, our deep psychological problems and difficulties in relationships can manifest themselves in the form of eating disorders.”
According to psychologist Robin Reca, this type of disorder represents “a serious mental health illness that is primarily manifested by symptoms and obsessions regarding food and body image.”
Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa (maintaining an abnormally low body weight). bulimia (excessive eating in a very short time); others are more complex, such as vomiting syndrome (periodic episodes of severe vomiting); and muscle dysfunction (an obsessive fixation on a physical feature perceived as defective).
“Eating disorders are associated with difficulties with emotional regulation and tremendous suffering, so noticing potential changes in mood or in social relationships can also give us clues that something might not be going well,” says Reka.
For this specialist, other risk factors for eating disorder are: low self-esteem, obsessive perfectionism, insecurity, low frustration tolerance, overprotective family, having an extremely thin beauty model, obsession with sports, a history of obesity, as well as past weight gain and being ridiculed ( especially in men).
“Adolescence itself is a risk factor for an eating disorder,” according to Rica, who explains that there are groups that are more likely to develop these disorders because of their activity, “such as people who engage in sports, aesthetic activities, or who must fit into weight categories (boxing, martial arts). self).