VoedingsMagazine - nummer 4, december 2011, 24e jaargang
NutritionMagazine, No.4, 2011, Vol.24
Theme of the Food4You knowledge festival reversed:
Good mood, better food
The knowledge festival Food4You aims at bridging the gap between science and practice. The theme in 2011 was ‘Good food, better mood'. A healthy diet is important: is we wish to keep good health we must follow a healthy diet and avoid unhealthy habits. However, it could also be reversed by focusing on factors that improve health.
Food4You is an annual 14-day feast in which the most recent knowledge of nutrition, foods and lifestyle are presented to the public at large and to professionals. The 2011 festival was organized from 1 to 15 October in the Wageningen Food Valley and surroundings. The varied programme included a day for the public, culinary activities, symposia, workshops, demonstrations, theatre and film. Speakers in the opening symposium included Dr Laura Bouwman (Health and Society lecturer at Wageningen University) and Prof. Frans Kok (head of the Human Nutrition department of Wageningen University). Bouwman proposed in her lecture to reverse the theme of the festival: ‘Good mood, better food'.
Not all things can be measured Laura Bouwman said: ‘I would like to reverse this year's theme: who feels better eats better.' A healthy diet is commonly approached from a biomedical perspective in which knowledge plays a central role – knowledge based on empirical facts, or fats observable and measurable in real life. Within the biomedical approach the pathogenic perspective is at the centre; one seeks to identify causes of disease and options for preventing and curing disease. In that perspective professionals look in particular at the physical and healthy aspects of health. Laura Bouwman argued in favour of the salutogenic perspective as a supplement to that approach. The salutogenic perspective focuses on the social and spiritual dimensions of health in addition to its physical and mental elements. Salutogenesis is a positive approach seeking to find the origins of health.
Think the other way around now and then Prof. Kok also addressed in his lecture the relationship between nutrition and mood. ‘People choose foods to favourably influence their mood. For example, depressive people eat more chocolate. However, reversely, people who feel in good mood eat better and are healthier.' He referred to a recent paper of Frey (1). In Frey's study researchers analysed on the basis of diaries of nuns residing in the same monastery what nuns had a positive life attitude. All of them followed a similar dietary pattern. The nuns with a positive life attitude lived seven years longer on average than their less happy sisters. It does not imply that a healthy diet is irrelevant but, according to Kok, thinking ‘the other way around' now and then certainly does not harm.
Relevant for promotion of a healthy diet According to Laura Bouwman, the salutogenic perspective is highly relevant for promotion of a healthy diet. The positive approach fits in with the way people stand in life. People seek to live a good life and to have a corresponding good feeling, a ‘good mood'. The holistic approach of health does justice to how people experience their health: as a fine combined action of body, mind and social and spiritual well-being. The perspective is also built into people's social environment and explores the dynamics between people and environment. From that interaction people develop good health or not. Isolated investigations of either human beings or their environment, as still commonly done, does not do justice to reality.
Wendy van Koningsbruggen
[Reference] B.S. Frey (2011) Happy people live longer. Science 331 6017) 542—543.