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Nutrition and Health - What's the Connection?

2.0 Contact Hours
Target Audience: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and interested individuals
Purpose/Goal: The outcome of this course is for the learner to describe the role of food and health in human history as well as explain the various elements of nutrition and some of the most common types of diets are explored.
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What we eat profoundly affects our health and well-being. Obesity is at epidemic proportions in the United States and throughout the world. Many of us eat more than we require. We eat when we are rushed. We don’t understand how various food elements interact; and we are not as knowledgeable as we could be about various diet types and their effects on our health.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Describe the role of food and health in human history.
  • Define diet and nutrition.
  • Identify the macronutrients and their role in nutrition and health.
  • Identify the micronutrients and their role in nutrition and health.
  • Describe the key features and focus of high-fiber, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets and the Atkins diet.
  • Describe the key features and focus of moderate-fat, balanced nutrient, reduction diets; the raw food diet; and vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • Describe the key features and focus of elimination and anti-inflammatory diets.
  • Explain the relationship between nutrition and stress.

Food and nutrition are fundamental to all life. In addition to being a source of nutrition, food plays several other roles:

  • Spiritual: There are diets for religious and spiritual purposes
  • Geographic: There are diets dependent on where people live and what is available to them based specifically on geography, climate, and political resources
  • Economic: There are diets dependent on available financial resources
  • Physiological: There are diets for medical purposes or to enhance physical and emotional health and well-being
  • Social: There are diets for special occasions, holidays, and celebrations

As Micozzi (2011) states, “From birthday cake to bitter herbs of the Passover seder to Thanksgiving turkey to communion wafers, food helps form our social bonds, express our spirituality, and define who we are” (p. 355).

People often maintain specific food habits because they are practical or culturally symbolic. Cultural beliefs that influence nutrition and diet include the following:

  • What is regarded as food and what is not
  • How food is cultivated, harvested, prepared, and served
  • How food is eaten
  • Who prepares and serves it
  • Which individuals eat together, where, and on what occasions
  • The order of dishes served in a meal

Food is also a basic medium through which adult attitudes and sentiments are communicated, since eating can be associated with emotions such as happiness, warmth, love, connection, anger, or tension. Food can also be used as a pacifier and for relaxation, especially when people are under stress. In a movie theater, while watching a suspenseful movie, have you ever noticed the sound of people munching popcorn, eating candy, or sipping on their extra-large soft drinks? Have you ever been frustrated, angry, or bored, and just grabbed whatever was in your kitchen cupboard or workplace snack room and gobbled it up? Seaward (2011) asserts “food and mood go together like peanut butter and jelly” (p. 523).

Food is basic to survival, meets security needs (through storage and hoarding), can be used as gifts or rewards, involves pride and love in its preparation, and can help someone express self-actualization through its innovative use and new recipes. Food ideology is the comprehensive perspective of attitudes, beliefs, customs, and taboos affecting the diet. It is influenced by advertising and involves symbols associated with food such as prestige, power, status, lifestyles, and emotional fulfillment (Leddy, 2006).

Because food habits and associations are learned early in life and tend to be long-lasting and difficult to change, it is important to form sound nutritional practices when one is young.

So much attention is being paid to the role of diet in overall well-being that a new specialty, called “nutritional (or food) psychiatry,” is developing in Western health care. This specialty focuses on the vital importance of food and nutrition in supporting and enhancing health, and it specifically uses food to support and enhance optimum emotional health (Korn, 2016; Miller, 2015; Selhub, 2015). In reality, while this concept is new for Western medicine, many of the world’s major healing traditions (such as traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine) that have been around for thousands of years have emphasized the relationship between diet and health. Even Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine said “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be food” (Korn, 2016).

Complete the course post exam (CE Test) with a score of 80% or greater. Complete all fields of the course evaluation form. Certificate of Completion is provided once the course post exam is passed per criteria above.

  • American Board of Managed Care Nursing
  • ANCC - American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association
  • ASWB - Association of Social Work Boards
  • California Board of Behavioral Sciences
  • California Board of Registered Nursing
  • California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section
  • District of Columbia Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing - Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Florida Board of Respiratory Care
  • Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
  • NAADAC - The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • NCBTMB -National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
  • Florida Board of Massage Therapists


Practice Level:


Content Focus:

Occupational Therapy Process

Course Expires:

July 11, 2019

  • Cyndie Koopsen, RN, BSN, MBA, HNB-BC, RN-BC, HWNC-BC
  • Caroline Young, MPH
Jurisdictional Requirements:

Continuing education (CE) licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. These CE requirements may vary in terms of the number of hours required to the types of courses that must be taken. ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC recommends you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. Compliance with CE requirements is the responsibility of the individual health care provider. Health care providers must understand the CE requirements in their jurisdictions, and be sure they are up-to-date on any rule changes that affect their license. For further information, please see our Accreditation Information.

Accommodations for Disabilities:

Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodations, please contact us.

Conflicts of Interest and Relevant Financial Relationships:

The authors/planning committee members have no conflicts of interests or relevant financial relationships to declare relevant to this activity.

Commercial Support:

No commercial support has been received for this activity.

Non-endorsement of products:

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing nursing education only and does not imply ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC approval or endorsement of any commercial product.

Off-label Use of Products:

None of the authors intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.