The term eating habits (or food habits ) refers to why and how people eat, which foods they eat, and with whom they eat, as well as the ways people obtain, store, use, and discard food. Individual, social, cultural, religious, economic, environmental, and political factors all influence people’s eating habits.
Major determinants of food choice(Food habits)
The key driver for eating is of course hunger but what we choose to eat is not determined solely by physiological or nutritional needs. Some of the other factors that influence food choice include:
- Biological determinants such as hunger, appetite, and taste
- conomic determinants such as cost, income, availability
- Physical determinants such as access, education, skills (e.g. cooking) and time
- Social determinants such as culture, family, peers and meal patterns
- Psychological determinants such as mood, stress and guilt
- Attitudes, beliefs and knowledge about food
Influences on Eating Behaviour(Food habits)
Food is everywhere. For most people, it is easy to find something to eat, especially unhealthy options.
Routines. Plan to eat, and make family meals routine. Children benefit from the social skills, plus everyone gets a balanced meal.
Marketing. Unhealthy foods can look fun, easy, and tasty with colourful marketing packages and free toys. Frozen, instant, microwavable, prepackaged-these foods aren’t usually fruits and vegetables. And they often have a lot of either salt, sugar, or fat-and sometimes all three!
Cultural and social meanings. Some foods are comforting and familiar, even if they are not nutritious and healthy. Religious, political, or social beliefs help us make food choices for ourselves and our families.
Family and living situations. Other people may shop and prepare the food we eat. This is especially true for children and their eating habits.
Emotions. Depression, anxiety, boredom, and stress can lead to unhealthy eating.
Knowledge of nutrition. Basic nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t get confused when a new study in the news conflicts with everything you know. Look at the big picture. More research might need to be done before it becomes fact.
Timing. It isn’t so much the time of day that matters but what and how much you eat when you do. The longer you wait between eating, the more you tend to eat at your next meal or snack. For example, if you eat an early dinner, you may be hungry before bedtime. Consider eating just 1 hour later, or don’t eat dessert.
effects of Food habits on regional balance
Meats should be slaughtered under Halal guidance; pork is not allowed. Generally, foods that are kosher are also accepted under Halal. The major exception is alcohol, which is banned under Halal. For strict observers, this may mean not eating foods cooked with vanilla extract. There are numerous guidelines for fasting, particularly during Ramadan.
This extremely complex set of guidelines includes restrictions on how meat is slaughtered, which animals/birds/seafood may be eaten (most famously pork and shellfish are not allowed), the part of the animal that can be eaten, who makes certain foods, combinations of foods, avoiding contamination, what can be eaten on religious holidays, and more. Many non-Jewish people prefer foods labeled kosher because they believe them to be cleaner / more strictly prepared.
A lacto vegetarian diet is followed by many Hindus – no meat, poultry or fish, no eggs, but milk products are allowed and encouraged. Beef is prohibited, as the cow is considered sacred. Brahmins may have restrictions on who prepares their food and how it is stored. There are many fasting days and periods in the calendar, with restrictions such as eating only plant foods.
There are no set prescriptions for food restrictions in Buddhism. Under the concept of ahisma / doing no harm, a lacto-vegetarian diet is followed by many Buddhists. Buddhist monks have additional restrictions such as fasting and not eating solid foods after noon.
Devout Catholics fast on holy days and periods.
Practicing orthodox Christians follow a number of fasts. Weekly fasts include abstention from meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and sometimes other foods such as olive oil and alcohol as well. Other fasts are longer and exclude some or all of the foods avoided in the weekly fasts.
Seventh-Day Adventists are lacto-ovo-vegetarian – they avoid meat, poultry and fish but eat eggs and milk products. Alcohol is also prohibited.
Mormonism prohibits alcohol and caffeine (in coffee, tea, chocolate etc.).
Jainism prescribes to ahisma, or nonviolence, following scrupulous rules for the protection of all life forms. Strict Jains don’t eat meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, and sometimes milk; they may avoid eating root vegetables as the whole plant is killed when the root is dug up. There are a number of religious practices involving fasting, particularly for women.
Rastafarians are permitted to eat foods that are cooked lightly. Meats are not eaten, canned goods are avoided, and there are some restrictions on seafood.
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