How do you choose what to eat? Our eating habits are influenced by many factors. We choose foods for many reasons besides just hunger. It can be because of personal taste, cultural influence, family preference, social pressure, emotional reasons, convenience or just the pure variety available.
There are plenty of food options in the world and with abundance comes overeating, which ultimately leads to obesity and health issues. Though surveys tell us that people today are more interested in diet and healthy eating than ever, the number of overweight people tells a different story. The best way to influence your choice of food is to understand what makes you tick. What are the factors that push you to choose a particular food? You know the factors; you know your reasons and the better you can control them.
Causes for your food choices and eating habits.
Family and Cultural Influence
The most obvious reason for our choice of food is that we like the way it tastes. Even as babies, we have a preference towards foods that are sweet and fat. As we grow older, we develop a palate for other flavors of food.
People who are exposed to a wide variety of flavors as children tend to enjoy even more flavors as an adult. As an adult, you can teach yourself to love the taste of healthier foods. It takes time and perseverance, but it will definitely be worth it.
Dieting vs Favorite Food
For most of us, our favorite food is associated with a fond memory from our past. Let’s face it; no fond memory is made with fruits and salads. When you want to eat healthy or start dieting, you are expected to let go of your favorite food. And when a particular food is denied, your obsession with it only increases; it’s basic human nature. And being obsessed with a food doesn’t really help with your weight loss plan.
The simpler way to handle this is to include your favorite food in your diet plan. But, it’s up to you to control how often and how much you eat them.
Feeding Your Eyes
It’s not uncommon to eat something just because it looks good on a plate. Even when you are not hungry, you tend to eat foods that look delicious. How many times have you ordered that dessert because it looked so good at the other table? It has nothing to do with hunger or how full you feel. To stop yourself from doing that requires pure self-control.
For someone with limited shopping time, convenient food is a huge influence when choosing a meal. You rely on restaurants, home delivery, processed and convenient foods like instant noodles because they are easy options. But this type of eating habits will chew up your finances.
Instead of fine dining restaurants, you can opt for quick-serve restaurants that serve simple meals like roti or dal chawal. You can also shop for simple foods from the supermarket that require very minimal cooking time.
Studies show that the more variety we are offered, the more we tend to eat. People tend to eat around 25% more when given multiple choices during a meal.
For example, when you go to a buffet restaurant, you want to try “at least one bite” of virtually everything. You end up eating way too much when you would have been satisfied with just a simple meal. But there is no fear of over eating when your meal is monotonous.
Typically, you tend to eat more when eating outside and when dining with others. Some studies suggest that your intake increases as the number of people at the table rises. Similarly, when you eat with health conscious people, you will end up eating nutritious food as well.
The bottom line is that once you know the factors that contribute to your decision making with regards to food, you can start to work on keeping those factors under your control. Hopefully, this has given you a clearer picture about yourself and your eating habits and can help you make better meal decisions.