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How Do We Eat? Why Do We Eat?

Lindsey Samuel Diet

In my previous post, we talked about the meaning of food- that is, the roles that it plays in our lives. From this, we know that food not only plays a physiological role in giving us the materials and energy that our bodies need in order to function but it also plays a psychological role. Food has an effect on our mental and emotional states.

So now that we know the basics of the roles that food plays in our lives, how do we eat…how exactly do we choose what we eat? In essence, why do we eat what we eat?

A lot of the choices we make about food are affected by the places and societies in which we live. We also choose food based on what is available at the time, as well as what we think is acceptable, both on a personal and cultural level. 

Another thing to consider is that, as food has a psychological role, our mental and emotional states can also affect what we choose to eat. As I mentioned in the last post, we associate many foods with the expression of certain emotions. For example, when we are sad, we grab a tub of ice cream or our favourite “comfort foods.”

This is basically in a nutshell the factors that determine the food choices we make. Now, let’s go more in depth.


What is Available

This is probably one of the major deciders of what foods we have to choose from and ultimately what we are going to eat. The foods that are available to us are affected by many things such as geography, socioeconomic standing and lifestyle.

Where we live and the geography of the area affect the types of food we have access to, especially if we live in isolated, agriculturally-based communities. In this case, our food choices are limited to what is produced locally. Moreso, in developed countries, a greater selection is available  as there is greater ability to store, transport and process local-grown foods, as well as trading relations with other countries in terms of food imports.

Those of lower socioeconomic standing usually have a limited selection of food as their incomes may not facilitate a wide variety. Food choices are therefore based on what can be afforded and in most cases, this is precooked or cold meals and fast food.

Lifestyle can also affect the foods we eat. As we become more modern and busy, it is often difficult for us to prepare meals at home. This leaves us turning to precooked meals and fast food that are convenient and time-saving. 


What You Prefer

The availability of food may deal with what we have to choose from but our preference determines what we personally choose to eat- be it based on individual tastes, culture, religion and personal beliefs. 

This is a more internal process of deciding what to eat. We all have our personal preferences concerning taste, appearance and texture that affect what foods we like and what foods we consume.

Your allegiance to society and its culture may also encourage you to select certain foods over others. Adherence to religious and personal beliefs also contribute to this. For example, if you are a vegan, your personal beliefs about the cruelty that animals face at the hands of humans spur you to avoid any foods that are derived from animals.


Your Habit

Humans are creatures of habit. We stick with what we know and this applies to our food choices as well. We are more likely to choose what we have chosen before than to try something new.

For example, every time I go to a restaurant, I order the exact same thing. There may be more delicious things on the menu but I always end up eating the same thing every time!

What’s more is that the foods that we are exposed to as children are the foods that we enjoy as adults. We carry our preferences from childhood into adulthood. For example, we eat certain foods at certain times just as we did as when we were children, despite what is considered to be the norm. Also, a lot of the foods that we find comforting as children would be the foods that we turn to when we are facing emotional situations. 

In essence, people’s eating patterns develop based on what foods they ate as children.


What You Are Sold

Advertisement is a hell of a thing! And it can make you do many things…including eat what you eat. 

It works like this. Advertisers make their foods look and sound so delectable that your mouth waters and you cannot help but buy it. Even if you do not buy it right away, the name sticks in your head and your memory is triggered when you are hungry.

But we all know that it never is as good as it looks or sounds!

Anyway, the bad thing about what advertisers promote is that these foods are usually high in sugar and fats and can negatively affect our health. 


What You Think is Good

Our ideas of what we should eat and what would benefit us the most determine a great part of our choices.

Most people choose foods because they believe that it is healthy for them. Why do we eat
fruits or vegetables or drink water? Because we have been told and believe that these things are needed for the healthy functioning of our body.

We also choose certain things because we think that they will help us in a certain situations. Why do we drink chicken noodle soup when we are sick or jack up our intake of oranges when we have a cold?

In this case, what we believe to be good does not necessarily mean healthy. Take for example when we are sad. Ice cream definitely helps the situation (there is no denying it) but it is not a healthy option.


What we eat depends on many different things. So tell me, why do you eat?

8 thoughts on “How Do We Eat? Why Do We Eat?

  • I spent most of my life sticking to the same “safe foods” that I knew I enjoyed and took little reference to whether they were good for me or not. So why have I changed? Six years ago I never ate any fish and very little vegetables, but after spending time with my new partner and seeing her enjoy both I have slowly succumbed to trying these horrible foods to find that they weren’t so bad after all. It’s amazing what you can enjoy if you just give it a chance!

    • It’s so true, Dean! It’s always good to mix it up! I try sometimes but sometimes I just stick with what I know. But mixing it up opens your world to so many possibilities!

  • Hi Lindsey!

    Great article, it really makes you think.

    I believe that you are absolutely right in this paragraph: “Advertisers make their foods look and sound so delectable that your mouth waters and you cannot help but buy it. Even if you do not buy it right away, the name sticks in your head and your memory is triggered when you are hungry.”

    I have gained a lot of weight recently. However, I am not the type that eats a lot. I rarely eat 2 times a day. However, whenever I see something that looks delicious I can’t hold back because I want to taste it.

    It is sad that advertisers know this and they exploit it as much as they can. I will try to improve my habits from now on!

    Thank you for your article!

    • Hey Andrei! That is awesome. I am so glad you can identify the hold that advertisers have on us and know that you have the power to reverse it. All the best!

  • Nice perspective on things.
    While I read through I wondered what option has more effect about what we eat? Does habit influences more than what we think is good (for example)?
    What do you think?

    I have to say that I don’t share the “emotional food” feeling. Food doesn’t comfort me. It’s tasty (or not) and good food can make you feel good, but eating food is not something I would turn to when I’m feeling down. I can’t relate to that 🙂

    • I guess it’s not good that you’re not an emotional eater because I think that that does the most damage. And I do think that emotions have the most and strongest effect on what we eat because our emotions can override choices that we are accustomed to as well as those we think may be good for us. If our emotions are strong enough, we don’t even care about those two things. I hope that answered your question!

  • I must agree that habit, or what you enjoyed as a child plays a major role in what we eat as adults. My most popular breakfast choice now is the same thing I have been eating and enjoying regularly since I was a small child.
    However, healthy choice is what I use now to determine what I eat. I do slip up sometimes and chide myself for the “junk” that I ate. However I am quite delighted to look in my plate and see servings of whole grains and vegetables and other delicious healthy foods. That definitely meets both physiological and psychological needs.

    • It’s interesting to hear what influences what you eat, Freddie! It’s great to know that you are able to control what you ate as a child and enjoy now with healthy choices!

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