Do Spiritual Needs Impact On A Persons Nutrition & Health


What do we mean by ‘spirituality needs’, is this a ‘wishy washy’ term that is synonymous to religion, or is it a combination of belief (this could include religion), culture, wellbeing and health? Researchers from Coventry University believe the latter to be true, although Dr Jacqueline Watts acknowledges that spirituality is not easily defined and can have many meanings. One of the most philosophical descriptions of spirituality is what remains of ‘the self’ once material things have been removed, so what do you hold true and sacred within yourself. So with this in mind then, is it so outrageous to think that spirituality could support nutrition, health and wellbeing… probably not!


Spirituality can be a coping mechanism

There have been some respected systematic reviews that suggest that spiritual health can have a positive impact on many diseases/conditions. Physical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and psychological conditions that include depression and anxiety saw better recovery rates when a person demonstrated good spiritual health. It is thought that those with good spiritual health were better prepared and had coping strategies and resilience to deal with their condition, whilst those with poor spirituality exhibited negative impacts. It is probably good for you as the consumer, and me as the health and nutrition professional to consider the spiritual needs of a person and how they provide meaning to everyday life. This could be useful for a person wanting to get their head around the relationship between psychology, nutrition and health, what makes them tick, what feeds into their daily food and drink choices and are there external factors that could be managed better if they were in tune with their social, cultural and emotional state. As Socrates famously said, ‘know thyself’, this may be the answer.


Find your meaning...

Like most things in life, you’ve got to have an end goal. An end goal gives you meaning, so pick something and go after it (even if it’s the wrong thing) because sitting around stagnating isn’t getting you anywhere, at least you have the opportunity to glean something from any mistakes you make on the way. If your goal is to become aesthetically pleasing i.e. achieve what the general consensus considers to be ‘fit and healthy’, then you have already found some meaning, you have given yourself a purpose, you are ready to put the measures in place to reach your goal.


Key questions to ask when deciding on a nutrition plan

All too often the consumer is expected to follow a general pathway, to adhere to some set rules and apply these indiscriminately irrespective of their beliefs and identity, or indeed how these pathways may affect them during the emotional journey. How does a person’s weight loss journey impact on their emotions, and could the person deal with the ups and downs of a weight loss regime if they were better in touch with ‘the self’? Garvey et al. (2015) suggest that pertinent questions in a person’s nutrition and health strategy should include ‘what helps you cope when things are bad’, and ‘what things are important in your life at the moment, and how might they affect your healthcare/ healthcare decisions?’ As well as simple (what should be) everyday questions like ‘how might we help you to achieve your goals’. Understanding and factoring in a person’s ‘way of coping’ has to be a consideration when progressing through the stages of change, if we as practitioners and you as consumers can establish a nutrition and supplement plan that is in keeping with your emotional tendencies then you stand a better chance of succeeding.

If there is a way that we can help you to achieve your goals then make the most of our nutrition advice line, we have experienced and qualified nutrition experts at hand to keep you on the right path.


Garvey, S., Grove, E., McCabe, L., Rymer, A., Peart, M.,Cooper, N., Tighe, B. & Lycett, D. (2015). Patients and their spiritual and religious needs. Dietetic considerations. Dietetics Today.

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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