The psychological approach to nutrition with Alyssa Fontaine - #intermediate

When taking care of your client, several aspects of his health will be taken into account: his history, his background, his pathologies, etc. In short, at the beginning of the treatment, you have the opportunity to take a moment with your client and evaluate his or her lifestyle habits and the reasons why he or she wishes to change them. 

This also applies to nutritional monitoring. You look at the individual's caloric and energy intake, their eating habits, their relationship with food, etc. 

However, one thing that the vast majority of sports professionals forget to take into account is the psychological aspect. This is why in this article, we talk about the psychological approach to nutrition with Alyssa Fontaine, nutritionist.   


Alyssa Fontaine is a nutritionist who specializes in weight loss, chronic disease prevention, intuitive eating and plant-based nutrition. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Dietetics from McGill University and has been a member of the Ordre des Diététistes du Québec for 6 years. Her goal is to help you adopt healthy habits while having fun!

Alyssa Fontaine


The behavior behind the weight loss goal

Eating disorders, depression, anxiety, poor relationship with nutrition, etc. These are all elements that should not be dismissed when you do a nutritional assessment with your clients.

As a professional, you need to be able to target the symptoms and go beyond the weight loss goal by asking the right questions. Often, certain harmful behaviors are hidden behind goals. It is therefore important to dig deeper to better understand the reason behind the desire to lose weight. 

The first step: find the cause of the symptom. 

This is done from the first meeting. We try to create a comfortable climate for the person and take the time necessary to get to know them. 

Using the 5 Whys technique, you must find the answer to the question: Why do you want to lose weight?  

Don't hesitate to ask probing questions, without being judgmental and treating all clients the same. This will provide the background that justifies the position the person is in today. 

Of course, avoid projecting your own biases and problems onto the person. Your relationship with the food and your own behaviors are not about the client's. Your position as a professional obliges you to be neutral without triggering old hurts. This is where the importance of taking the time to dig into the person's history and to target the real need behind the weight loss, so as not to bring up old problems. 

How should we go about it? 

By presenting different solutions supported by science and determining what would be best for the individual in front of you: 

    • Do we want to make a menu?
    • Do we want to make a plan?
    • Do we want to do intuitive eating? 

You must remember that there is no one way to do this. You need to assess the client to determine what solution is right for them. 

The REAL need behind weight loss 

Knowing that the professional can have this impact, how do you know if he or she has enough information to make a diagnosis? 

As an athletic trainer, kinesiologist or fitness trainer, you need to have some ongoing training to master all aspects of taking care of a client, which may seem like a lot to ask!  

That's why in the best of all possible worlds, every client would be taken care of not only by you, the sports professional, but also by a nutritionist.

The emotions behind the behavior

As an emotional being, your client may engage in some undesirable behaviors, including eating for emotional, not physical, reasons. 

Your client must be able to differentiate between these two types of hunger, either emotional (sudden hunger for temporary satisfaction) or physical (gradual hunger that appears around meal times). 

There are several solutions to counteract these undesirable behaviors. Target these different emotions with your clients and the times when they tend to "eat their emotions" to change these behaviors. For example: 

    • When they feel anxious
    • When they feel lonely
    • When they are bored
    • When they procrastinate
    • And so on.

To watch the entire episode, click on the video below. Enjoy!

Use an essential tool for your customer follow-up!

A software like Hexfit allows you to better follow your client's evolution and to optimize your coaching, both in person and remotely.

With several key features:

  • Periodization and planning of your clients' long-term objectives.
  • Automated sending of weekly questionnaires and forms.
  • Alerts of a drop in motivation among your clients.
  • Graphical analysis and monitoring of results in real time.
Camille Boutin

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