Bastienne Neumann, former professional judo athlete, about her passion for eating behavior

During the next months, we will take a deeper dive into the topic "Nutrition, Mind & Well-being". We are extremely happy that nutritionist and nutrition psychologist Bastienne Neumann is curating the topic together with us. Her podcast "Nutritional Psychology Made Easy," won the German Podcast Award in 2019, reached #1 on the iTunes charts, and has over 3.5 million downloads. With an active community of nearly 10,000 Instagram followers* and more than 5,000 newsletter subscribers*, Bastienne is one of the most successful experts in the field of nutritional psychology in Germany and shares her knowledge regularly on TV. We asked Bastienne a few questions - her passion for the subject is truly contagious!


Your podcast "Nutritional Psychology Made Easy" has more than 3.5 million downloads and was ranked #1 on the iTunes charts. What problem are you solving with your podcast?

Before I started my podcast, I was researching a lot about why I ate the way I did. Although I had a lot of knowledge from studying nutrition, I didn't manage to put it into practice. I ate without being hungry or ate unhealthy snacks more often than I wanted to. Therefore, I questioned my own eating behavior: I looked at what I ate and, in addition, also at why and how I ate. Thus, I managed to understand my own eating behavior and was able to rebuild a healthy relationship with food. This made me very happy and improved my quality of life. Knowing that many others out there felt the same way I did, I wanted to share my knowledge and started my podcast.


You are in very close contact with your community. What did you do to create such an active community?

Basically, almost everyone finds it exciting to understand themselves: "Why do I consume certain foods in certain situations, even though I'm not hungry at all, and what role does food play in my everyday life?" To find answers to these questions, you have to reflect on yourself and sometimes look behind your own facade. In my podcast, I'm pretty open with my personal story and what's behind it, which makes it easy for many listeners to identify with me and my story. I think the combination of this openness and the general interest in wanting to understand one's own nutritional behavior leads to the fact that the bond with my listeners is very close and the topic is well received.

Left: In 2019 Bastienne received the German Podcast Prize for her podcast “Nutritional Psychology Made Easy”. Middle: almost 10,000 people follow Bastienne on Instagram.

Right: May 2020, Bastienne druing a TV shootin about eating behavior in the Corona period.


You were a competitive judo athlete but had to give up competitive sports due to injury. How did that happen?

In judo, you fight according to weight classes. Accordingly, at the age of only 6, I was regularly weighed by my trainer and, depending on which tournament was coming up, I was supposed to lose weight, gain weight or maintain my weight. That's why I started from very early on to influence my weight by dieting, which I managed quite well (even if not in the healthiest way) because of the external control of the weighing. However, when I was almost 16 years old, I tore my cruciate ligament, which forced me to pause judo for a year. During this time and for the first in ten years my weight was not controlled from the outside. I stopped my permanent diet and ate everything I had forbidden myself the years before. This led to me gaining quite a lot of weight in a short time, which I didn't like at all. So I dealt intensively with the subject of nutrition, tried out all kinds of diets in order to lose the unwanted kilos again. Unfortunately, the cruciate ligament rupture repeated itself a second and even a third time after the sports break. As a result, my weight went up more and more, which led me to dive deeper and deeper into nutrition. Eventually, I even decided to study nutrition sciences to get a grip on my own challenges and to understand my eating behavior.


Nutrition, mind, and well-being - How are these three factors so directly related?

The topic of nutrition is often viewed in a very one-sided way: Food. People look at food and what is healthy and what is not. Food delivers nutrients for our body, but at the same time, what and how we eat does affect other metabolic pathways in our body. We do not only eat because we are hungry - we also eat, because we regulate our emotions: We relieve stress or we reward ourselves. You could say that "the mind eats along with us." One of the reasons for this is that eating releases happiness hormones in us. Thus, our well-being can also be regulated by our food intake. Nutrition, mind, and well-being, therefore influence each other more than we initially assumed.


In our Trend Report Nutrition 2021, which lists the ten most important nutrition trends of the coming decade, "Health at Every Size & Intuitive Eating" is top trend #4. What do you think is making this topic increasingly present in our society?

There is a very large movement around body positivity and advocating eating what your body asks for. This is also related to the anti-diet movement - away from controlled knowledge, towards intuitive eating without prohibitions and constraints. Basically Health at every size or HAES is a scientifically proven and weight-neutral program to boost health and wellbeing. HAES helps people of all sizes finding compassionate ways to take care of themselves. It is a result of the self-acceptance and body positivity movement. In addition, intuitive eating is a philosophy that rejects dieting and sets a focus on observing the body's own needs and on deciding what, when, and how much to eat. However, there is also a large number of people who take a totally different approach to nutrition: They want to have as much control as possible over their eating behavior and also need a lot of knowledge to make the "right" decisions. That's why they are constantly educating themselves and questioning what information is wrong or right and whether certain nutrition myths are actually true. And of course, there is also a group of people who find themselves in between these two movements.


What questions do you get most often from listeners? Where is there a need for clarification?

Since the topic of nutritional psychology is still quite young and not very widespread, I very often get queries about other sources of knowledge, such as books or training. I notice that there is a great interest in getting in touch with experts with quality and trustworthy knowledge. And in general, what is really great: People want to learn much more about the topic.


What role do nutrition experts play in this context?

The example of nutritional psychology is a good illustration of how broad the topic of nutrition actually is. There are still so many areas that are thin on the ground, although there is great interest in more information among consumers. We need a lot of high-potential, clever nutrition experts to do research in this field.

To know more about Bastienne and her podcast and other work, visit her website: www.bastienne-neumann.de. This interview was conducted by Roxanna Rokosa, Head of Digital Communication at NUTRITION HUB.