How Do We Eat? Why Do We Eat?
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.
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?