Do We Really Choose What We Eat?

When you think about your daily food choices, you may be in line with participants in a recent Cornell University Study, who estimated that they make about 15 daily choices about food and drink. But you may be surprised to know that that number is actually closer to 200.

That begs the question: if there are that many choices to be made about food in one day, who is making the remaining 185 of them? Well, we are, only we’re not conscious of it.

Do We Really Choose What We Eat

What Influences Our Choices

Some interesting research is going on at the University of Connecticut that has shown what is influencing our daily food choices. And two of them appear to be geography and society.

Geographically Speaking

The research revealed that there are areas in cities where healthy food is not readily accessible, whether due to lack of time or resources. These ‘food deserts’, as they have been coined,  are often where residents are more likely to choose a nearby McDonald’s as opposed to a grocery store carrying fresh produce that’s not much farther away.

Because these food deserts often occur in areas of cities where the underprivileged live, money also plays an important role in how a family eats. The most accessible and affordable food may contain the highest amount of calories, sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.

Social Stigmas

The UConn research is taking a closer look at treatment choices as well as food choices. For example, research has revealed that those with HIV or AIDS in India are dealing with a social stigma where it involves traveling to clinics to receive disease-slowing medication. The closer and more convenient it is for an HIV or AIDS patient to access medication discreetly, the more likely they are to travel to a clinic to retrieve their medication.

But could this theory be applied to the choices occurring in ‘food deserts’ as well? Is there some kind of social stigma which wordlessly expects those with lower incomes to eat unhealthy foods? And are those that make the effort to live a healthier lifestyle by eating healthier foods looked upon with interest, or disdain by their friends and neighbors?

Mindless Eating

Another theory about our choosing power when eating is that there are about 200 daily choices to be made, but that we make the majority of those choices unconsciously. This results in habitual or ‘mindless’ eating. 

Mindless eating can happen anywhere, and at any time. While we’re sitting in front of the TV, out with friends or just relaxing with a book, it can be tempting to reach for those foods we consider being ‘comfort foods‘.

As well, the seemingly larger portions being offered by many establishments these days doesn’t help us, either. What it all comes down to is that we do have choices; we can either continue with our mindless eating, or actually think about what it is we’re putting into our bodies.

Thinking Differently

One question to ask ourselves that we may not have thought to ask is whether or not we actually enjoy eating what we’re eating. The answer may be surprising. Although chocolate chips may be delicious, are they being consumed more out of habit than anything else?

The other question we should be asking before we choose our food is whether that food will meet our body’s nutritional needs. Oftentimes, we are so focused on filling our empty stomachs that we don’t take the time to really think about whether or not what we’re eating is good for us.

While foods tend to be relegated into one of three major categories – carbohydrates, fats or proteins – basically, those foods which are most beneficial to our health will contain at least one of the following:

  • Antioxidant;
  • Complete protein;
  • Healthy fat;
  • Phytonutrient.

Of course, there can be grey areas when choosing what to eat, such as when a food is healthy for you, but you don’t really enjoy eating it. This can be enough to stop any healthy eating plan in its tracks. In this case, experts recommend looking for a substitute that’s healthy, but more to your liking. Of course, if there’s no substitute available, you may just have to grin and bear it.

About Blog Owner

I am Atanu Majumdar, owner of the blog HowToReduceObesity covers articles on various obesity, Weight loss, Fitness, Diet topics. If you like This post, you can follow howtoreduceobesity on Twitter or On Facebook Or On Google PlusI am Atanu Majumdar, owner of the blog Healthadvice4life covers articles on various Health and wellness topics. If you like This post, you can follow healthadvice4life on Twitter or On Facebook Or On Google Plus

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