The Psychology of Nutrition

Corrie-Beth Lipowski

You can say what you want about nutrition but when it comes down to (a) embarking on a new regimen, (b) sticking to a plan or (c) working towards a goal, it’s ALL mental.]


I want us to understand WHY we make the CHOICES we do when it comes to food.

For example, why does someone eat a sleeve of cookies even when they consciously know it’s a poor snack choice? Or why does someone choose a bacon cheese burger for lunch over a grilled chicken sandwich, knowing the burger is going to make them feel like garbage for the next 24 hours? Or why does a person binge on cookies and candy in the privacy of their home but eats salads in front of co-workers and friends?

Our nutrition behavior is influenced by many things: motives, personality, emotions, beliefs, habits, values, attitudes towards food and nutrition, and past experiences with food. While some of these items seem like things we cannot control, my focus is always to help clients focus on what they can control. For example, what they buy at the store, keep in the house OR don’t keep in the house can impact last-minute food choices. Additionally, failing to adequately prepare or anticipate a meal often leads to poor choices.

Typically, individuals select from their available food resources the items that are most useful, acceptable, and pleasing according to the particular time, internal state, and occasion.

This means we make choices that fill a need, seem socially or personally acceptable and are pleasing to our taste. These choices depend on time of day or year (morning vs. evening or winter vs. summer), emotional state and occasion (social setting vs. privacy of our own home or lunch with a client you’re looking to impress vs. a holiday party with family).

The primary basis for all of these factors can be found within each of us: it directly relates to our purpose/ passion/ goal. What’s your WHY? What’s your purpose? What are you working on or toward? What does that mean to you?

The clients with the best success are the ones who are working towards a date specific goal and engage in daily measureable activities. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit. I think that’s garbage. It only takes a second or an instant to form a habit. And it’s all about choice.

Whether in the midst of a depressed sate or an intense craving, the only difference separating caving in or making a healthy decision is choice. YOU CONTROL YOUR CHOICES; no one else does or can. But you’ve got to have a strong enough reason or “why” to rely on to carry you through.

But you’ve got to have a strong enough reason or “why” to rely on to carry you through.

Think of it this way: pretend you’re a super-sports fanatic sitting at a Knicks or Giants game. The game has reached an intense point and you’re totally engaged. All of a sudden, the scoreboard goes out… but the players keep playing. No one knows the score. Are you still as engaged? How do you keep score?

Chances are we’d all lose interest if they removed the scoreboard from sports. What’s the sense in watching a bunch of people running around after a ball when we’re not keeping score? It’s all about playing to win. Without a score… who decides who wins? No matter what realm of life we examine, scoreboards are an essential component to the game: they tell us who wins or who's ahead. The score gives us a reason WHY we play. And we play to win.

If you can look at nutrition like a game, you’ll change your psychology of eating. A goal of fat loss can be broken into measurable actions you choose each day to ensure you win. (i.e. tracking food intake, taking pictures or body measurements, weighing yourself, having body composition assessments done)

Without a scoreboard (a measurable set of actions) it’s easy to become less than enthusiastic about the concept of eating right. People without a scoreboard are people just playing not to lose.

My Advice? Get what you think in ink. Write a clear, dated goal and set a date to achieve it by. Use the resources you already have here at Pure Physique and you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to play to win when you keep score. Good, healthy choices naturally become easier and bad habits will fade away.