Influence For Food Choices

By Raina Kinneer

Physical Needs

How can food help you with your physical needs? Well for one thing, food relieves hunger. Do you ever get embarrassed when your stomach growls in class? That's because a hunger signal stimulates your stomach to produce hunger pangs.

Another factor is appetite. Appetite influences what foods you choose to ease your hunger. Some days, I crave a McDonald's Big Mac (although it's very unhealthy for you), and other days I want a simple salad. It really just depends what I'm in the mood for.

But the foods that improve your physical health the most are fruits and veggies and protein. Protein helps you have more energy for your day and keeps your stomach from growling like a tiger. It fills you up and it's what professional athletes have to have a lot of. Fruits and veggies are really good for you, because they're not high in calories or fat, and they can also taste good! Fruits like plums, mangoes, pineapples, peaches, and more all taste delicious to me. And if you put a little dressing on your salad, then it tastes amazing.

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Psychological Needs

When you're in a bad mood, what do you do most of the time? It's different for everyone, but personally, I like to eat lots of ice cream. It helps me be relieved from my stress and anxiety and puts me in a calmer mood. Now when I'm in a good mood, I eat healthier foods. If I find myself happy, I don't feel the need to eat a huge scoop of ice cream. Instead, I eat a bowl of fruit or something simple yet good for you.

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that many people suffer from. It's when they're not happy with the way their body looks, so they restrict themselves from eating a lot of foods, even healthy ones. They think that by starving themselves, they're losing the fat. Although that's partly true, they're also putting their body into "starvation mode", so the next time they eat, they'll actually be gaining more weight. This is because your body is used to you not eating for large amounts of time and stores the food you do eat as fat, kind of like a camel.

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Personal Food Preference

What do you prefer to eat verses what you're supposed to be eating? A lot of times we eat something, just because it tastes good. We can eat it nonstop, just for the flavoring, without realizing how many calories you're gaining by doing so. For example, if I were to eat a bag of potato chips, I could just keep eating it and eating it until I couldn't even taste the chips anymore. I'm just purely eating it out of enjoyment. This means that I could eat an entire family-sized bag of potato chips if I wanted. Pretty unhealthy, right?

A lot of times we eat what our taste buds crave, not necessarily what we know to be good for us. All that candy on Halloween, the tub of ice cream in the freezer, and the bag of Takis in your pantry---your taste buds might be craving these things, but your stomach sure isn't. Just think how much the percentage of obesity in America would decrease if we didn't have any taste buds! We could eat a plain salad every day, without even knowing what it would taste like! It could taste as sweet as ice cream, and we would never even know.

We also pick which foods we eat from the way the food smells, what it looks like, and what our favorite foods are. If you smell a hamburger, and it smells like moldy cheese, are you going to eat it? Probably not. What is looks like it also a big factor. I used to think guacamole was disgusting because of the nasty green color, but now that I've tried it, I love it! Also, if we've tried a food before and liked it, then of course we're going to try it again!

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Food Availability

A big factor in food choice is availability. If the ingredient on your shopping list is out of season, then you're not going to be able to make the meal you wanted.

Supply and demand is how much of a product someone wants verses how much of the product is available. They go hand-in-hand. If the supply is bigger then the demand, then they can drop the price so more people will be willing to buy that item. But if the demand is higher than the supply, then the price needs to go up so that less people will buy it.

Another thing to consider is if the item is in-season or not. Watermelons can't be grown in the winter because it's too cold outside for the farmers to grow anything. They have to plant the watermelon seeds in the summer, when the temperature is nice and hot. If they grow a lot of watermelons, then they'll usually sell them in local grocery stores for pretty cheap because the supply is high.

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Social Settings

The foods you eat may vary depending on where you're at. If you're sitting with yor family around the table for dinner, you might eat steak and mashed potatoes as well as some type of vegetable. Because chances are, your mom cooked your meal and is trying to provide your family with a balanced meal.

But if you were in your school cafeteria, for example, the food might not be as good as your mom's home cooked meal. You might have a pizza slice, a carton of chocolate millk, and a small amount of corn straight out of the can.

If you're at the movies with your friends, chances are that you're going to be eating junk food. The theatre's expensive sodas and popcorn are so unhealthy and bad for you, and yet there you are, snacking away in your seat before the movie has even started. And if you didn't but the theatre's snacks and smuggled some from home in your jacket or handbag, you'll probably be eating a lot of candy from your pantry.

And if you're at other social events, you'll probably be eating the same foods as everyone else because a lot of times you feel pressured to eat just like your friends, because you don't want to be the only one in your group of friends eating Brussels sprouts while everyone else makes faces behind your back.

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Society and Culture

Your food choices also depend on your traditions, beliefs, and holidays. If you're Muslim, then you wouldn't be caught dead eating pork, bacon, pepperoni, or any types of food made from pig. This is because that's just part of their religion. Most of them aren't going to change their eating traditions just because they're "peer-pressured" into it. It's the way they've always done things, and they aren't going to stop anytime soon.

If you celebrate Christmas, Hanuka, Kwanzaa, Easter, or any other types of holidays, you might have certain eating traditions. For example, on Christmas Day, you might have a huge breakfast with mashed potatoes, cranberry, apple cider, yams, and other foods. You might also have this same meal for Easter or even Halloween. It usually just depends on how your family celebrates it and what foods best fit the occasion.

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Thanks for reading :)