Why nutritional health is about more than just food

November 26, 2021

Healthy eating – it’s all about flexibility

At Holly Health, we understand that people's relationships with food are all different and complex, meaning that healthy eating solutions are not ‘one-size-fits-all.’ In contrast, many of the publicly available nutritional guidelines are quite rigid and prescribed. Approaching eating in this way will most likely lead to unhealthy eating habits – things like disordered eating behaviour or disconnected feelings associated with food.

So, what can we do to help improve people's relationships with food, particularly those who are struggling?

One word - flexibility. From our research we know that flexible eating is a more effective solution for people who are looking to improve their relationship with food. Of course, there are basic principles of nutrition to keep your body nourished too. But we believe in taking those basic guidelines and adapting them along each person’s individual journey to better eating.

It's not just about eating food

Improving someone’s nutrition is not just about looking at the food they eat, or how many calories they consume. There is much more beyond this, which we take into account at Holly Health.

In particular, we look for patterns: where you eat, whether you eat alone or with others, what you're thinking while you eat and what your emotional connection to what you’re eating is.

We challenge our users to pay attention to how they feel before and after they’ve eaten. We then ask, ‘what can you learn from this?’ to help people progress and implement learnings for future similar scenarios.

It’s not simply about what we eat, but the biological, social and psychological aspects that underpin our relationship to food and eating.

How nutritional health links with our overall health

There is a tendency in society to separate nutrition, mental health and physical health into different boxes. However, these all affect each other, so we need to take them all into account and look at a person’s overall health to try and make changes.

For instance, someone could be eating a low-carb diet because they have read that this helps with weight loss and this is their goal. But after feeling tired, hungry and moody (all side effects of restricting carbs), they give it up and overcompensate by eating a lot more carbs than they would have normally, all in one go. This will likely leave the person feeling deflated and frustrated that their goal is not being met, while not addressing where their desire to lose weight comes from.

It’s important to look at what small and simple changes can be made without going to extremes. We don’t want to overwhelm our users with nutritional information but we also see a lot of poor nutritional information in the media which can be extremely harmful. Through accurate and helpful tools, we want to empower people to understand and consider all aspects of nutritional health, so that they too are looking at the wider picture.

Holly Health’s expertise

Our app has been developed by neuroscientists, psychologists and behaviour change experts, bringing trustworthy and science-backed content to our users.

Our Content Research Manager Daniela Mercado Beivide has a background in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics alongside a Master's in Neuroscience and a PhD in Psychological Medicine. Her expertise in how nutrition can support people at all life stages with different health conditions (such as diabetes and hypertension), as well as how psychology affects the way we eat, has hugely contributed to how we approach nutrition at Holly Health.

Our evidence-based information enables our digital health coach to deliver accurate and compassionate guidance to our users, and work with them to set realistic and adaptable health goals that support their physical and mental wellbeing.

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