Psychology and Nutrition


To obtain knowledge about human behaviour relevant to the practice of Clinical Nutrition and Community Nutrition/ Public Health. Overall, the CU aims to develop: (1) knowledge about health psychology, with a focus on eating behaviours: the normal-pathological continuum and the integration of neurobiological and psychosocial models; (2) understanding the person in health and disease contexts, along with socio-cultural determinants of behaviour; (3) general attitudes, knowledge and skills related to counselling and behavioural change, with a focus on basic skills interviewing and communication in Clinical Nutrition; and (4) basic knowledge of the mental disorders which are most related to eating behaviours.

The CU also aims to enhance basic skills necessary for nutritionists (therapeutic relationship, autonomy, team work abilities, research and communication of results).

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Prof. Doutor Jaime Manuel Novo Grácio


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language






· D. Marks, M. Murray, B. Evans, E.V. Estacio: Health Psychology – Theory, Research and Practice (chapter 7: Food, diets and obesity pp 154-192). London, Sage, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4462-9507-6


· Ayers S, de Visser R (2018). Psychology for Medicine and Healthcare. 2nd ed. Sage. ISBN: 9781473969285.

· Gable J. (2007). Counseling Skills for Dietitians. 2nd ed. Malden, Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4051-4727-9

· van Teijlingen, E., & Humphris, G. M. (2019). Psychology and Sociology Applied to Medicine: An Illustrated Colour Text. 4th ed. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier. ISBN 978070206298

Teaching method

Weekly, each student will have 2.5 hours of learning activity through seminars.

The seminars will include expository learning, as an introduction to the selected reading/ main bibliography, and practical application of the theoretical topics. These topics will be further explored, using case studies/ examples, problem-solving and films/ other teaching materials. Some seminars will introduce the students to interviewing techniques/ clinical communication, using role-play. The remaining seminars will include supervision in order to prepare one assignment to be presented at the end of the semester.

The student must attend at least 2/3 of the seminars.

Evaluation method

The evaluation will include a written exam and an assignment on a specific theme, to be discussed in public. The final grade is the arithmetic mean of the written exam and the assignment.

Subject matter

1) Contributions of Psychology for Clinical Nutrition and Community Nutrition/ Public Health;

2) Introduction to mental functioning (models), cognitive functions, personality;

3) Human development/ life cycle;

4) Family, occupational and sociocultural factors in human behaviour;

5) Stress and coping in health/ disease;

6) Psychosocial and cultural determinants of eating behaviour. Eating styles. Acquisition of eating habits throughout the life cycle. Learning, cognitions and emotions in eating behaviour. Psychological factors in obesity;

7) Psychological adaptation to disease e.g. metabolic problems. Reactions to hospitalization and terminal illness;

8) Changing eating behaviours: stages and strategies;

9) Basic techniques of communication and counselling in Clinical Nutrition. Motivational interviewing and treatment adherence. Common factors in therapeutic relationships. Difficult situations;

10) Mental disorders as related to altered eating behaviour (e.g. eating disorders, depression).


Programs where the course is taught: