By this I mean the ACTUAL foods that you eat. To achieve whatever goals you have.
There are many things that can influence our food choices. It is worth being aware of them so we can make more informed food choices / because it is quite a fun exercise to do just in and of itself. Perhaps we are missing out on some nutritious and / or delicious foods without even realising it. Or perhaps we have some slightly skewed food choices because something influenced one aspect of your diet, but you don’t realise another aspect completely contradicts this!
So, what can influence our food choices?
Many of us carry eating habits from childhood through life! It could be the times of day we eat, or the types of food we habitually cook or pick up from the supermarket. Perhaps you always had sandwiches in your packed lunch, and so you still do. Perhaps Sunday was always a cooked brekkie, and so it still is. Or perhaps it is something more subtle … a random one for me is that I rarely cook potatoes!! My mum isn’t a fan so we never had them, except in a Sunday roast. I programme them in my clients’ meals all the time, but rarely do I even think to cook them for myself of an evening. I love them, I just never think of them!!
Have you got anything like that? Does it fit with your lifestyle, preferences and goals now?
… I really need to start making jacket potatoes. I firmly believe you can’t beat these on a rainy day!!
Social Media and Popular Culture
This is a big one! And often, even though we fight it, subconsciously the ideas and language used can influence our language, mindset and food choices.
Have you ever used the phrase ‘clean’ food? Or wondered if you should cut down on fruit because it contains sugar? Or cut fish from your diet because of greenhouse gas emissions per gram protein, but kept soy and chocolate? Or only used coconut oil to cook with because it is the ‘healthiest’?
Or on the flip side, have you started cooking new delicious recipes because you discovered a new account on Instagram? Or started eating more fruit and veg because you read about the benefits of fibre?
What have you picked up from the media around you? Is it accurate, helpful and benefitting you? Challenge your beliefs, and decide which to keep and which to reject!!
Advertising and Packaging
A big element of both of these is persuasion!! ‘Choose meeeeeee’!!
Whether it is the stylish packaging that means you want to pay an extra £3 for that particular ice cream. Or the design of nature and sunrises that reaffirms your belief the food is nutritious. Or perhaps the claim on the front of the packet about the wonderful things the item can do for you!
Any which way, advertising and packaging can have a major influence on everything we buy.
I for a FACT know my eye will be caught by a pretty package. Price and ingredients usually wins, but food is my job so that makes sense!
And of course, our changing understanding of the foods we eat can influence our food choices.
Back in the day, low fat diets were all the rage. Fat is highest in calories and high fat diets correlate with some diseases and therefore cut fats and all will be good!! We now know that is not the case, some fats are essential, and the relationship with disease is far more complex (note: quality of food and other lifestyle factors appear a major determinant rather than fat per se). herefore manufacturers reached for trans fats to make our foods more stable. It was only later we realised that the synthetic trans fats they contained were most definitely not what we wanted in our bodies.
And now, we are starting to understand more about the environmental impacts of different farming, processing and transport routes in food production. And also more about what we don’t yet know about each of these aspects. And this can in turn influence the foods we choose.
With science, it is a case of keep on top of the information coming out from legitimate scientific sources and always being open to having your mind changed as new information emerges!!
In summary …
So there you have it! The above is, of course, not exhaustive. We could also talk about practical aspects like food availability at work or home, kitchen space, finances etc. And I have not delved deep into any of them. Or touched on the real psychology behind it. But it is an intro to some things for you to reflect on. Happy pondering!