Factors Influencing Food Choices

Food choice is never a simple process because so many factors go into determining what people choose to eat in different parts of the world. You may think that people choose a specific food just because they like it, but that is not always the case. There are many other factors influencing food choices other than the smell, taste, or appearance of the food. How difficult it is to obtain a particular type of food also plays a big role in making food choices. Keep reading to discover more about it.

Factors Influencing Food Choices

As mentioned, you do not just select food because you like the taste, but there are other factors that will influence your food choices,such as the following.

1. Starvation

If you skip meals often and eat fewer calories, this will make you hungry, which will have a direct impact on your food choices. In ancient times, people would hunt for food just to survive. It means that if you are experiencing "starvation", you may decide to eat food that contains many protein, fat, calories, and carbs. For instance, if you skip breakfast, you may tend to eat a juicy cheeseburger rather than soup for lunch. In other words, intense hunger is among the most important factors influencing food choices.

2. Palatability

It is quite natural to opt for food that you know tastes nice. Smell, taste, texture, appearance, and your previous experience with the food will affect the palatability, which in turn will influence your food choices. Your previous experience plays a great role here. For instance, you may not want to eat something that may have given you food poisoning in the past. Visually pleasing foods are always going to appeal more – you may feel more attracted toward strawberries drizzled with chocolate than a carrot or grapefruit.

3. Nutrition

How nutritious a particular food is will have an impact on food choices. People are more calorie conscious than ever, and agree that they make choices considering calorie content of specific food.

4. Families

What you see your family eat from your childhood will have a huge impact on food choices you make later in your life. If you have been raised in a family with Italian heritage, you may continue to like pasta throughout your life. Similarly, you may not like fruits and veggies if they have not been readily available in your family.

5. Environment

Where you live and work will also have an impact on your food choice. You are probably going to make healthy food choices if you live closer to health food stores. On the other hand, you may be more into highly processed foods if you do not have easy access to nutritious food.

6. Economics

The cost of food is among the most important factors influencing food choices. Even if you want to eat certain type of food, you may avoid it if it disturbs your budget. In a study, the sales of fruits increased by four times when high school cafeterias cut their prices in half. Research also shows that lower-income individuals are more likely to consider the cost of food when making food choices.

7. Emotion

What you eat influences your mood, but it is also the other way round. It means that you are likely to eat different things when you are feeling different emotions. You may even have an emotional connection with certain type of food that often serves as a source of comfort when you are distress or sad. It means conditions, such as stress, depression, and anxiety have a big role to play in food choices. These emotions may not just have an impact on what you eat but they will also influence how much you eat.

8. Cultural Background

Your cultural background will also have an impact on food preparation and diet choices. Research shows that beliefs, traditions, and values are some of the most important factors influencing food choices.They also affect nutritional status and mode of food preparation. It is due to this fact that a Chinese-American is going to make very different food choices as compared a Mexican-American. Muslims, Jews, and even Christians eat food but do not eat pork, whereas Hindus do not eat beef.

9. Education, Knowledge, and Skill

You are likely to make healthy food choices if you have knowledge and education about nutrients in different food. Knowledge about healthy eating will always inspire you to make healthy dietary choices. People know that fruits and veggies are healthy, but they just do not know how they can increase fruit and vegetable consumption in an affordable way. Similarly, the loss of cooking skills may also influence food choices people make.

10. Media and Advertisement

What you read in magazines or what you see on TV will have an impact on your food choices. Both electronic and print media has the power to change people's preferences about food. They can also influence what you eat, how you eat, and even how much you eat. Advertising can leave subconscious effect on food choices, and that is the reason why there is always an increase in consumption of snack foods due to TV commercials about them. Sometimes, different food items come with somewhat questionable claims but that affects people's decision about food.

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