Food is an interesting topic. As someone who is studying in the field, I’ve seen people get riled up over one thing or another. Whether it’s the safety of GMO crops, eating vegan/vegetarian, or following a diet like paleo or ketogenic, people seem to get irate that not everyone follows what they think is the ideal. Even people in the field or are training to be a dietitian are very opinionated. So instead of adding an opinion on why people should eat one way or another, I am going to contribute to what I think helps lead people to eat one way or another, as I have learned from my classes.
Cost: This is a big one. Food is expensive. What’s more, healthy food costs more. A study found that typically, healthier foods, proteins especially, cost more than unhealthy ones. For people who are in a pinch, this means they will opt for the unhealthy option first, or do without.
Availability: A year ago, I wrote about food deserts and how they may or may not affect the health of a population. That said, if certain foods are unavailable or are unappetizing in an area (we watched a documentary in one class, where several people said they were willing to eat fruits and vegetables, if they were available where they lived), people cannot buy them.
Culture: One training video we watched in a community nutrition class had a nutrition expert promoting brown rice to a woman. Due to her culture as the video described it, she had little say in how the food was prepared or in grocery shopping. This meant the idea of eating brown rice did not work for her. Some other limitations on food choice are from religion. Many restrict or limit what kinds of meats are available for consumption.
Preferences: I think this is one that gets overlooked a lot. Personally, I eat almost everything. The things I don’t like are really spicy pepper-based foods (jalapenos sometimes are too spicy for me) and asparagus. Gasps at the fact that a food-guy can not like foods aside, other people have foods they dislike or like too.
Allergies: The eight common allergens can cause people a variety of issues. I don’t have an allergy to any of these things, so a peanut and tofu milkshake with a fish sandwich using whole wheat bread is not out of the question. But for a lot of people, one or more should be avoided at all costs. Some opinions I’ve read online suggest that diets that rely heavily on these foods for protein often exclude people because of their allergies.
I know this list is not exhausted, and there are other reasons people might choose to eat one food or another. A good summary of my stance on this is stop worrying so much what others are eating, and focus instead on what you are doing. Every food has its pros and cons when it comes to consumption, and everyone has their reason for eating the way they do.
What do you guys think? Any foods you can’t stand? Any other reason I missed in my summary? Feel free to comment them below!
3 replies on “Choose 1 or 10: Understanding Food Choices”
Curiosity, exposure, venturing outside your norms. Try something new, retry something you didn’t care for before. I find growing some new foods expanded my exposure. I am growing quinoa… A popular protein rich seed, but its leaves are edible also! They taste similar to spinach. Try foods in other forms- hate asparagus? Try it in ravioli. Hate canned corn, try it from the frozen section. Time to get out of the food rut of what we most like to eat by changing up the toppings, the sauce, even culture.
As someone who’s a bit of a hobby chef and deeply passionate about food something I’ve noticed is that a lot of people are unwilling to go past first experiences. They might have had a poorly prepared meal at one point and they then assume that’s what all of that particular food is going to taste like.
I can’t count on my hand how many people I know that refuse to eat salad because their family has never been able to make a good salad so they’ve lived their whole life hating every salad they’ve eaten.
Taste is a difficult thing to work with. I’ve suggested people try a food, only to dislike it on first taste. Getting people to try something they disliked prior is difficult. What I’ve researched and found is usually, the food needs to be prepared a different way, and in much smaller amounts. Some slight, gentle nudging and encouragement might also help.