Why We Eat What We Eat

Understanding your diet and eating habits is the first step in changing them. Many factors effect what we choose to eat each day. Once we know what these factors are, it becomes easier to control how much they influence our food choices. Read the factors listed below. How much do they influence what you eat?

Social Situations. It is often much harder to control what we eat in social situations. Dinner at someone’s home often means a limited choice of food. Also, many social meals offer appetizers, full meals, and desserts that are high in fat and cholesterol. It’s hard to pass up these foods when there are no other choices. Also, we don’t want our host to think that we are ungrateful or don’t like the food. You may feel the need to “join in the fun” when you’re part of a group. It can be easy to talk you into having another drink or trying a piece of cheesecake.

Economic Situation. How much money we have can also affect our nutritional choices. How many times have you eaten at a fast food restaurant to avoid spending more than a few dollars? The food you buy is probably less than healthy fare. When grocery shopping, it’s tempting to stock up on foods that are “buy one, get one free.”

Ethnic Background. Depending upon the culture we were raised in, our ethnic background can influence the foods we eat. Some cultures eat healthier foods than others. It’s a good idea to research the nutritional value of the ingredients that are included in your culture’s meals. You may need to find ways to slightly change your recipes to keep the taste and cut the fat, sugar and salt, without giving up your culture’s special foods.

Emotional State. Do you eat when you’re happy, or to reward yourself for success? Do you eat when you are sad or depressed? Do you use food to make yourself feel better? Does food replace something that you think is missing in your life? Many people overeat or turn to sweets when they feel happy or sad. Others stop eating altogether, depriving their bodies of essential nutrients.

Eating From Habit. Eating between meals can become a part of daily activities. For example, we tend to snack while watching television, listening to music, or driving. You may find yourself eating while you talk on the telephone or studying. These eating habits can be hard to break. Work schedules can affect the amount and kinds of foods we eat.

Physical Health. What we eat often depends on our physical health. When we are sick, it is normal for our appetite to decrease and to eat less. Sometimes, an unusually small or large appetite that persists can indicate a health condition that should be treated. If you notice odd changes in your appetite, talk to your doctor.

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