Eating Behaviors: Why You Eat the Way You Do

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • Things That Influence Eating Behavior

    Americans like to eat; there is no doubt about it. We are an able bunch
    of consumers, capable of packing away impressive quantities of whatever
    is filling our plates at any given sitting. Quantity is our game. On the
    other hand, quality is another story. We have eaten ourselves into
    shared obesity, and our national health is a sad condition. This
    defeating behavior might very well cause us to question why we eat the
    way we do.

    The Psychology of Eating
    Every behavior is accompanied by a reason for that behavior. We do not
    bound from action to action without cause. The behavior of eating is no

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    different. For better or worse, we eat as we do for reasons.
    A number of factors influence how we eat including cultural factors,
    social factors, and familial factors.

    Eating also is a matter of experiencing negative or positive consequences. If we are having negative feelings, we might eat to alleviate those feelings only to have them return and expand at a later point in time when we discover that eating has not helped to address the heart of the problem at all. 

    Cultural Factors
    Culture plays an important role in food choice, whereas different
    cultures have different foods that stimulate and satisfy appetite.
    Cultural influence is often rooted in what a culture considers edible.
    For example, some cultures get protein from things like grasshoppers or
    ants. Other cultures may prefer snakes as their source of protein. Such
    food sources are obviously not universal choices.

    Social Factors
    Social influences can have a profound effect on the decisions we make,
    and that includes the choices we make about what we eat.

    Even when we eat alone, social influence plays an important role in food
    because of the attitudes and habits we have developed across the
    years through social interactions. We also eat more when we are in the
    company of friends or family, and the amount we eat increases in
    conjunction with the number of people we dine with.

    The media also has a great influence on how we eat and, in particular,
    how our children eat. Children spend an inordinate amount of time
    watching television, and are exposed to a great deal of exploitive
    advertising for non-nutritious foods
    . Most children at the age of six
    are not even able to distinguish between the programming and the

    Familial Factors
    Perhaps the biggest influence on food choice is that of the immediate
    . Children learn by imitation, and the examples set by family are
    important in helping shape the choices that children make. If parents
    are eating unhealthy foods around their children, chances are good that
    those children will embrace those habits.

    Parents and other family members should be mindful of the choices they
    make and select healthy food and snacks, especially around their children.


    Living life well-fed,
    My Bariatric Life

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    American Psychological Association
    Cleveland Clinic
    European Food Information Council
    Global Post
    Howard University

Published On: March 20, 2014