theories of psychology
It is difficult, when reading over all these different theories of psychology, to select just one that I would use in my profession as a dietitian. In regards to nutrition I believe that a number, if not all, of these theories would play small, interrelated parts. The most prominent ones being functionalism, psychodynamic, cognitive and social/cultural. Functionalism, and/or evolutionary psychology, is the theory that a number of our behaviors were isolated through natural selection. However, it is very hard to prove as it is impossible to know exactly the behaviors of our ancestors. In terms of nutrition this might explain why if we put ourselves on a very strict diet we will in turn think constantly of foods and ultimately binge ourselves. Biologically we are designed to eat for survival, not to deprive ourselves. Psychodynamic is the theory that past events, emotions and unconscious thoughts exert an influence on our current behaviors. Nutritionally speaking this expresses itself as certain associates we make with food. If every time you hurt yourself your mother gave you a sweet to stop you from crying you will associate pain with the reward of sweets (or something equally pleasurable). Cognitive psychology is based on the ideas of perception, mental processes and judgement. This I would apply in situations where I needed to help a client become more aware of their own actions and behaviors. Perception plays a crucial role in nutritional and health choices because many times what one perceives that they are doing and what they are actually doing do not always coincide. For example, a client cannot understand why they are unable to lose weight when they work hard to eat well. However, they are not aware that as they cook their meals they are constantly snacking. They perceive that these events either don’t happen or are inconsequential and many times are not even aware that they are doing it. Finally, social/cultural is obviously, the influence on behaviors that are based on cultural and/or social factors. These are incredibly important in the field of nutrition because many of our beliefs about food, the availability and choices of food are based on our cultures. Here in Maine we are hearty eaters. Beef, potatoes, calorie rich root vegetables, butter, cream etc are all staples of our diets. Those that eat differently, though not stigmatized, are a considered a little left of center and that has an impact on the food choices that many make. When in Rome do as the Romans do.
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