the new food project for people with mental health problems

It is called Ali-Menti and is the title of a laboratory included in the Faciamo network project (for psychophysical well-being), initiated by the two associations operating between Pescara and Chieti, Cosma, leader – chaired by Tiziana Arista , and Percorsi – chaired by Eugenio By Caro.

The initiative includes meetings with the dietician Luisa Andreacola, medical director of the ASL of Pescara (metabolic diseases and nutritional rehabilitation) and the doctor of psychology Miriam Inguardia, to deepen a fundamental subject but often totally underestimated, even ignored: the relationship with food and, in particular, people with mental health problems.

“There is a series of foods that can be used in patients who have psychiatric and psychological problems or depressive states that can represent an excellent adjuvant to pharmacotherapy since they act on the serotonergic system – explains Luisa Andreacola – today it has become almost fashionable to say that dark chocolate can have a positive effect on mood, but it is not the only one. Others can be blueberries, bananas or nuts ( better than almonds). There are also spices or aromatic herbs or officinal plants which are often not taken into consideration but just as useful. And here I am thinking of basil, rosemary, pepper, cinnamon. This last, for example, also helps a lot in the prevention of obesity, especially in diabetic patients or those taking medications that predispose to weight gain. The objective of these meetings is to arouse interest in these subjects, especially with relatives or those who are close to these people”.

Andreacola highlights the particular success of the project, especially for younger patients, who thus have at their disposal tools that are not (only) drugs but can use the food normally consumed, daily. By knowing better the properties of each food, obvious results can be obtained. On one aspect, however, the dietician is very drastic: the need to reduce caloric intake.

“It is essential to limit sugar, snacks, carbonated drinks, industrial juices and, conversely, to try to stimulate people to have direct and correct contact with food. But this applies to everyone, patients and people who do not have pathologies and especially for children and young people”.

The role of food in emotions and cognitive functions is rather the aspect explored by Inguardia: “We eat because we feel emptiness, because we are afraid, but it is a behavior that often, not even at a pathological level, is part of everyone’s life in times of stress or difficulty – explains the psychologist – as far as cognitive functions are concerned, yet food is linked to memory, to attention. micronutrients that will naturally promote these functions.However, it is essential not to understand food as a reward, otherwise it is no longer linked to a need but to an emotional necessity.Regarding the Ali-Menti laboratory of the Let’s project network, we will also have the development of the autonomy of the patients who, therefore, will be guided on the choice of food, on the ability to do their shopping… The data will then be evaluated through tests to analyze the success, or not, of our initiative at the food co-education psi level”.

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