Psychology of Eating

What influences what you eat and how you eat?
Imagine if your food choices and how you eat today could reflect who you wish to become.


Most animal species prefer sweet tasting foods and avoid better. Preference for sweet ensures survival because bitter can be poisonous. We are also programmed to eat differently when experiencing stress, more, less, or different from our normal palate. Many humans also rate food as better tasting when they have increased hunger.


The food that we choose to eat or not eat and how we consume them can give an idea on our personality. Sensation seekers many more likely to choose spicy foods while people that tend to play it safe choose mild foods. Take a moment to think about how you would label your own food habits: obsessive, garbage disposal, foodie, health-nut, picky?


Many stereotypes have existed in the that have contributed to food choices and eating behaviors and choices. For example, some foods are considered less “lady-like” to eat. Home economics classes that primarily were for women that taught them how to buy, prepare, and cook foods for a family. On the other hand, men’s roles are often though out as grilling meats or carving a turkey. Think to yourself if there is anything that would make you uncomfortable to order if you were out with a group of friends?


Stages of development also have a relationship to food. In the stage were in relative to our age we might have different reasons behind our food choices. Food choices when we are young may be related to rebellion or asserting our independence. As we mature, we become more open to healthier choices because you are becoming more concerned with leaving a legacy and concerned with health as you approach midlife. In late life interest in cooking may decline, strength to prepare food may be lacking, or even have difficulty swallowing or chewing food properly.


A whole range of emotions can cause people to eat. Consider how you eat when you are happy, sad, bored, depressed, angry, anxious, excited, lonely, hungry. We all have certain foods that bring us comfort, this can be tired to taste or even the connection to the person who used to prepare it for you. Even restricting access to certain foods may increase your desirability to eat them.


Familiarity can be very powerful when choosing foods. We may always choose something that is familiar to play it safe and pass by other options because we may not know how to prepare it or become curious and want to learn to cook something new. You may also have had a pervious aversion to a food from a bad experience and cannot eat that type of food. Certain foods may also be paired with an activity such as movies and popcorn or peanuts at a ball game.


Family has impact on our early ideas of how we should eat. You may see in your family and many others that sweets are used as a communicator of love. It is also the focal point of many celebrations. Also think back to if you eat meals as a family and if so, what were they like? Did your family use foods to express emotions to you?

Our peers are also big influences in your choices. Have you ever changed a meal choice based on what friends are having? Have you ever stopped eating or continued to eat based upon what they group was doing? Food choices can even have an impact on attraction, people whose food preferences are very different from yours may be less attractive to you.


Food choices and the way we eat are strongly connected to where we come from. It has a lot to do with comfort and tradition. Our cultural traditions are often strongly paired with specific foods. Your cultural heritage may be the reason why you accept or reject certain foods. Certain regions of the country also are associated with specific food. Eating for health can sometime cause conflict with ethnic traditions, some can even become sick but not change habits due to strict ethnic guidelines.


Many religions have sacred foods while other foods are strictly prohibited. religions can also guide prayer for before and after meals. There may also be consequences for going against religious traditions. People may even rather die than go against their religious traditions surrounding foods.

As you can see, they food choices we make are not within a vacuum. Working with a health coach can help you elicit some of the profound impacts of your food choices. They can also help you navigate some of these powerful influences to creating health eating habits for yourself and your needs.

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