Different people have different tastes regarding food. Some people like it spicy while some like it sweet whereas some like salty; so on other hand some are non - vegetarians while some are vegetarians or even few of them are vegans. Different choices and different preferences come up in people due to some root cause.
Just like how few like to have a full meal in the mornings and a light one - dish meals in evening while for few it's the total opposite. Food choices and behaviors are integral to social and economic expression of identities, preferences, and cultural meanings. It ultimately influences nutrient intake and health. So when one is talking about food choices it is very important to understand all the causes which influences it to make a healthier change and work towards its improvement.
STRESS, the effect of stress on food intake depends on the individual, the stressor and the circumstances. The factors responsible for stress-induced changes in eating and food choice are motivational, physiological and practical changes in eating opportunities, food availability and meal preparations. Studies also suggest that if work stress is prolonged or frequent then adverse dietary changes could result, increasing the possibility of weight gain and consequently cardiovascular risk.
Stress and weight gain also goes hand in hand as stress has a tendency to make food feel more rewarding/comforting. Mild stressors may increase appetite and also continual overproduction of stress hormones can lead to visceral fat gain and an increased risk of many diseases. Stress and weight loss for some, when stressed, the thought of eating makes them feel nauseous. High stressors (chronic illness or death in the family) may commonly decrease appetite levels.
MOOD, Hippocrates was the first to suggest the healing power of food. Today it is recognized that food influences our mood and that mood has a strong influence over our choice of food. To a certain extent, making healthy food choices involves making a short - term sacrifice ( such as forgoing that second or third chocolate chip cookie) for future benefits (like feeling good when we step on the scale or get the results of our cholesterol test). But when we’re in a bad mood, those future rewards just seem less compelling than the concrete but short-lived pay-off from eating the cookie. When you are bored, you eat in the hope of finding something to do. You will a-void with empty calories with no nutritional benefits. Of course, drinking alcohol can also make us less mindful about the food we eat.
ATTITUDES, it is another psychological factor influencing food behavior and attitudes. It is a way of thinking and feeling about something or someone . The attitude has three components: cognitive, (thoughts) affective (feelings) and cognitive (drives how one acts on those thoughts and feelings). Shepherd has indicated the affective component as a principal component of an attitude.
The Pan- European Survey found that the top five influences i=on food choice in 15 European member states are quality/freshness (74%), ‘price’ (43%), taste (38%), trying to eat healthy (32%) and what my family wants to eat (29%). In the USA the following order of factors affecting food choices were: taste, cost, nutrition, convenience and weight concerns. In the Pan- European study, females, older subjects, and more educated subjects considered ‘health aspects’ to be particularly important. Males more frequently selected ‘taste’ and ‘habit’ as main determinants of their food choice. ‘Price’ seemed to be most important in unemployed and retired subjects.
Attitudes and beliefs can and do change; our attitude to dietary fat has changed in the last 50 years with a corresponding decrease in the absolute amount of fat eaten and a change in the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat.
This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Shrushti Mehta.
We thank her for her research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about health and nutrition being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.