Why do we eat what we do?

KidFoody Exploratory Article – By S. Standish

Most people are able to have enough food to keep themselves nutritionally sound. Most of our food habits and patterns are influenced by many factors (not just the growling in our stomachs).

Why We Eat – Have you ever paused in your busy day and think about why you eat the food items you eat every day? Here are some reasons people eat what they do:

  • Someone else made the food for you.
  • Bored and wanted to eat something.
  • Food appealed to you.
  • Emotional response to things going on in your life (sad, anxious, etc.)
  • Food advertising…..(I swear I’m going to eat healthy, and then I see the ice cream commercial).
  • Peer pressure.
  • It’s just that time to eat.
  • Snacking while watching TV, on the computer or at a sporting event.
  • For health reasons.
  • To be nutritious and keep your energy up.

This is just a partial list of reasons. Can you think of any others?

In North America, most people are food secure. Some areas/groups of people have reported food insecurity. Food insecurity is not having access to enough food to eat. This is one of the most important reasoning’s behind our food choices. If you only have access to certain types and amounts of food, that limits your other reasons for eating what you choose to eat.

Question: A hockey player knows how important it is to have a nutritious diet. Why is being aware of what you ingest so important for hockey players, or any other athletes?

Your body needs nutrients (chemicals found in food) to run effectively and maintain all your body systems. Your body used the nutrients to carry out all of the crazy functions that need to occur in order for you to work every day. If you don’t get all the nutrients that you need there may be outcomes that will be detrimental to your health now or in the future. Good nutrition allows the body to function at its optimal level. Keeping our bodies at this level helps us look better and have lots of energy to be active and on task.

One of the key indicators that we need more nutrients is that our energy is low. The analogy commonly used is that our bodies are like cars that run out of gas – you just can’t go anywhere. Another indicator is just being plain tired. I think of all the students in my classes that skip breakfast. Not only do they nod off during class time, but they can be very irritable and moody. Refueling your body is extremely important.

What is hunger? Its a physical feeling that tells your brain it’s time to grab some food! Out of young children, teenagers, adults or seniors, who experiences hunger the most? The answer is young children and teenagers because their bodies are rapidly growing and they need the energy to function.

Did you know>>>>>
Some people aren’t able to recognize the feelings of being hungry or being full. This may cause them to be extremely thin or obese. 

Your senses play a big role in understanding personal food choices. If your senses (eyes, nose, tongue, sound and touch) are attracted to a food, you will find the food appealing.

Quick Facts:
– A sweet tooth is actually a sweet tongue (and there are taste buds on other parts of your mouth as well).
– You can judge a food by its odor. Who can resist chocolate chip cookies baking?
– Taste buds are actually small little sensors.
– Taste is a learned sense. Think of a baby trying a food for the first time.
– Food and drink are identified mainly by your sense of smell and what you see, not what you taste.

Did you know>>>>>
Butterflies and house flies have their taste organs on their ………. feet. They can taste whatever they land on. 

Mini Exploration Question: Chocolate is a very popular snack food. It is high in calories, but it has health benefits too.
What has more antioxidants: an ounce (30 g) of dark chocolate or a strawberry? 

There are psychological reasons/needs for eating what we eat as well. Have you ever eaten food as a reward (pizza party in elementary school)?  A punishment (not allowed certain foods because of a bad decision)? To help you relax (a cup of warm cocoa in the winter)? To show affection (a box of valentine chocolates)? To make you feel better( a bowl of chicken noodle soup when you are sick)? These are examples of needs that have to do with your mind and your emotions.

There are also a lot of social needs for meeting your food consumption reasons. Hanging out with friends, family gatherings, celebrations, sporting events, school parties all come with a food component. When you go to the theater to see a movie, there is an assumption that there will be popcorn and fizzy beverages. What kind of foods do you associate with your birthday?

It is important to pay attention to all the reasons for why you make certain food choices.


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