Psychology Of Eating Behaviours And Body Image

Why do we crave chocolate and crisps during stressful times? Western diets, rich in calorie dense foods high in sugar, salt, and fat have contributed to a sharp increase in overeating and overweight conditions. In this course we explore the psychology behind dysregulated eating behaviours ranging from irregular eating patterns and skipping meals to more extreme eating behaviours such as frequent dieting, binging, purging, or losing control over food intake (overeating). We investigate various approaches to understanding what leads to disturbed eating behaviour. You will become familiar with the methods researchers use to investigate issues related to food cravings and food addiction and how commercial organizations try to use this information to manipulate what we buy and how we behave. This course is ideal for those interested in examining psychological mechanisms behind our food choices and eating behaviours.

Who is this course for

You do not need any previous knowledge or experience in the field just an open mind and curiosity about this fascinating topic. It is an ideal course for those interested in learning how the combination of food abundance, increasingly sedentary life styles, and social pressures for body perfection created an environment that challenges our relationship with food as well our bodies.

What does this course cover

The course will introduce the main ideas and theories underpinning the psychology of disturbed eating behaviour patterns and investigate how these are associated with the concept of idealized body image. During the twelve-week course we will explore why what people believe about their own appearance (memories, assumptions, and generalizations), the way they feel about their body (height, shape, and weight) and the way they sense and control their body as they move, as these may be important contributors to the development of eating disorders. We will discuss how working on a healthy body image, self-esteem and self-acceptance as well as developing a set of adaptive emotion regulation strategies can help individuals deal constructively with challenges related to eating behaviours. By the end of this course you will:
- Understand the difference between disturbed eating behaviour patterns and eating disorders
- Learn about the main characteristics of emotional eating, uncontrolled eating, external eating, and cognitive restraint type eating behaviour
- Recognise the fundamentals of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder
- Become mindful of how chronic stress contributes to the development of anxiety and depression
- Understand why some people rely on food and eating to self-sooth and cope with adverse emotional states
- Learn about the protective role of healthy body image, self-esteem and self-acceptance

What will it be like

The course will be run online using Zoom for the live class sessions and either the Moodle page for the course or some other system for the distribution of the electronic resources for the session sitting alongside this. Although there will be some adjustments that need to be made for the online version of this course, we will aim to keep the experience as close as possible to that of a face to face course taught in the Centre.

The session will be in the form of PowerPoint presentation which is designed to be interactive. Planned activities such as brain storming on a given topic or the use of media (YouTube) will ensure that participants remain engaged and actively involved. Participants will be given the opportunity to do individual/group research projects and present a topic of their choice. Each session will end with a brief question/answer time aimed to summarise the main points of the day as well as asses the learning outcomes of the session. Self-assessment activities will be used to monitor progress and provide constructive comments for future development.

What else do you need to buy or do

Resources for the course will be available through the Moodle page for the course so there is no additional text that you will require.

The course will be run on Zoom, please make sure you have installed it in advance of your first class on your computer or mobile device. You can sign up for free here:

You will need a microphone (it's fine to use whatever is built into your device) and camera, so we can see you via video. You may also want to use headphones during the session.

You can participate in class sessions through the use of a computer, laptop, tablet or other similar internet enabled device. Please note that if you only have access to a smartphone, you will be able to attend the class sessions and participate in them but you will find it more difficult to benefit from the full range of materials and activities involved in the course if this is your only means of connection.

Make sure you have a small space to work in during the session and that as far as possible that you can keep this space quite and clear of interruption so that you can concentrate on what is happening in the class.

By signing up to the course you are consenting to being on camera. The content of the lesson may occasionally be recorded by the tutor for internal education and training purposes but any such recordings will not be made available to anyone outside of the Mary Ward Centre organisation without us asking you again for further permission to do so.

What this course could lead to

The course will present this important and up-to-date subject in a concise and captivating manner. It aims to introduce the main ideas and theories underpinning psychology of deregulated eating behaviours and eating disorders. If you find the topic interesting you may want to take other psychology courses that explore eating disorders in more depth or investigate associated subjects such as emotion regulation, self-esteem and self-acceptance.

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why choose Mary Ward?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening and weekends to suit your timetable. You can learn face to face at one of our centres (Bloomsbury or Waterloo) or take an online course

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’