Jessie the Dietitian: Do you meet your Maslow’s Needs?

Apr 8 / CATEGORY: Nutrition

Estimated Read Time: 2 minutes 30 seconds

In 1943, Abraham Maslow presented his theory of human motivation which elegantly conceptualized human needs. Reaching the higher ‘needs’ is dependent upon satisfying the lower foundational needs. If your basic (lower level) needs are not met, fulfilling higher-level needs is often unachievable.

During the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, there were many barriers that made it difficult to satisfy one’s basic physiological needs. This may have meant you worked harder to secure the basic need of food fulfillment, possibly burdened further by seeing empty store shelves in the early stages.

Today, there are fewer barriers compared to the initial stages of the pandemic; however, our climb from the bottom of the pyramid to the top may still be obstructed.

Consider your own motivations to reach each level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and what it would mean to reach its apex: Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization. What is required at each level for you? How do you get there?

Maintaining a busy schedule, hoping to look ‘good’ in a new outfit, or jumping on the newest “lifestyle” trends may sound like temporary gains that can drive us to the top of the pyramid. In reality, what these behaviors, among many others, have in common is that they are examples of social or emotional barriers that can inhibit a strong foundation on Maslow’s pyramid. Without this base, upward movement is much more difficult or impossible.

Do you notice times when your motivations are tainted by temporary or superficial advances that often result in long-term setbacks in exchange for short-term gains? Whether these sacrifices are acted upon intentionally or are a consequence of environment, one way to combat them is reflection and preparation. Proper planning and action to create a strong foundation can assist our movement up the pyramid and allow us to succeed in our more complicated needs.

Have caution: comparing your needs to others’ needs cannot guarantee your movement up the pyramid. It may take more or less for you than it does for the person sitting next to you to meet those basic needs.


Examining Your Foundational Needs for Nutrition

Your food behaviors may have changed since pre-pandemic, perhaps influenced by physical, emotional, or social factors. It is OK if your food intake or choices have changed these past few months or years. It is ok if you have felt out of touch with your hunger or fullness cues, not eating for satisfaction, or made less nutritious choices than before. Remember that food does not have moral status. Focus on making nutritious food choices, practice self-care, granting forgiveness, grace, and patience with yourself.

Want to talk more about how your nutrition and eating behaviors can lead you up Maslow’s pyramid? Use the link to schedule a free speed session with RecSports’ registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor, Jessie Furman, here.


This post was co-written by:

-Jessie Furman, MS, RDN, LD/N and Anna Pizza

Jessie is a Registered Dietitian and Assistant Director for Nutrition at the University of Florida’s Department of Recreational Sports where she does individual nutrition counseling and coaching with the UF community. Follow her on Instagram for more nutrition tidbits.

Anna is a 4th-year UF Health Sciences student and Program Assistant with the Department of Recreational Sports.