Why do we EAT?
Obviously, you need food to survive, but beyond your basic instinct to eat are many other factors that affect your food choices. These factors include taste and enjoyment; culture and environment; social life and trends; weight concerns; body image, and health benefits; advertising; time, convenience, and cost; and habits and emotions.
Taste & Enjoyment
This one seems almost too common sense to ignore. We don’t just eat because we want to look good, because it is convenient, or because of the necessity to eat. We almost always find ways to make taste & enjoyment a factor. That’s why when it comes to making food choices taste is the most important consideration. It would be hard to swallow that cardboard tasting dry chicken when you have more than 10,000 taste buds in your mouth complaining!
Our taste varies, but can be categorized. Humans have a taste for sweet or salty foods, which begins during infancy, and can be influenced by genes, and change as we age.
We have a taste for fat. When fat is combined with sugar, our taste for that food is even stronger. Think of bread and butter, or a doughnut. Cake anyone?
Texture also affects our likelihood of enjoying foods. The texture of our foods can decide whether we enjoy them or not. Did you know that almost 30 percent of adults dislike slippery foods, like oysters?
Culture & Environment
The environment in which its people live significantly influences a culture’s cuisine. If you lived in Mexico, you may regularly eat corn tortillas and tamales. In India, you would have meals consisting of legumes, vegetables, and rice. In Asia, rice might be a staple of your diet.
What is readily available is most likely going to be on your plate. From there, you will make the rest of your decisions in line with your preferences of taste, and goals.
Your environment affects your eating habits, even subconsciously. You linger over a meal longer in dim lighting, eat more food when the serving plates are larger, and drink less when beverages are served in taller glassware.
Social Life & Trends
When is Superbowl? What happens every year on the fourth Thursday in November? Why do we insist on eating popcorn at the movie theatre?
Social life is often the culprit for eating poorly, or even when you aren’t hungry! How many times have you been invited out to dinner with friends to socialize and catch up over a meal? How many of those times were your choices of food the ones you prefer for your goals?
Point taken. Socializing is an important part of life. It can be hard to not let it sway you to dine on not-so fine dining.
Weight Concerns, Body Image, and Health Benefits
Individuals undoubtedly make choices about certain foods because they perceive them as being healthy, or avoid other foods that are associated with weight gain or loss. Your perception of foods can be influenced by your current state of health, and of course, your knowledge of what is healthy to eat. With all the trends following low fat, low carb, and now high protein, it is no wonder people don’t understand what they should eat. The good news is that many professionals have taken the time to guide others, and fitness is a growing industry.
It isn’t enough to know there is a problem, such as being overweight, having high blood pressure, or running the risk of coronary heart disease. You must also know the solutions to these problems.
That’s right. Subliminal messaging is back at it, or it never went away? Manufacturers spend billions annually on food advertising. If you are awake enough, you will spot them. Why spend such a large amount? Won’t we buy them anyways because of the reasons above? The reason why is because they work, especially on young people. American children view up to 40,000 television commercials annually, and on Saturdays more than half of the between cartoon ads are for foods. Coincidence that children are off from school on Saturday?
Not surprisingly, healthy food advertising is rare. When the dairy industry noted a decline in milk consumption among Americans, it launched the Got Milk? Ad campaign. Advertising for healthy foods works as well. Milk sales increased by nearly 1.5 billion pounds.
Time, Convenience, and Cost
Convenience has become more of a factor in food selection recently. Decades ago, brewing your own cup of coffee was the only way to go. Now, you will see people standing in line at one of the 17,000 coffee shops, kiosks, and carts in the United States.
Due to the increased workweek, Americans are spending more money on eating out, and prepared and partially prepared foods.
Habits & Emotions
Your daily routine and habits affect both when you eat and what you eat. It isn’t uncommon to hear “I don’t eat breakfast”. However, eating a bowl of cereal and having a glass of orange juice in the morning isn’t uncommon either. Ready-to-eat cereals are the number-one breakfast food choice among Americans, and citrus juices are the most popular juice in the morning.
It is also likely you’ve heard of individuals craving sugar, or other types of foods during times of stress, sadness, and even joy.
Take conscious control of your decisions to eat. Your health is important, and only you can make the choice to put it above all else.
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