It's no secret that eating nutritious foods is the key to good health. That doesn't mean, however, that busy moms don't slip up and end up in the drive-thru once in a while purchasing a family meal that consists of chicken nuggets and french fries. While the occasional slip-up isn't likely to harm your or your family's health, regularly doing so isn't a good idea. Knowing the factors that dictate your food choices will help you make better choices in the future by allowing you to be prepared for anything.
1. Hunger or Lack Thereof
When you're famished, you're more likely to eat whatever you can find to put into your mouth, whether it's healthy or not. The urge to quell your rumbling tummy can motivate you to eat anything you can get your hands on, including unhealthy choices such as potato chips, candy and baked goods. The opposite is also true. Many people eat because they're bored or sad and not because they're actually hungry. You might also mindlessly shove food in your mouth if you're watching television, if the food is right in front of you for whatever reason or if others around you are eating.
The amount of money you have to spend on food can dictate your food choices, according to a 2003 article published in the "Journal of Nutrition." If you're living on a strict budget, you might buy what you can afford, which is often foods low in nutrition such as frozen pizzas and other packaged convenience foods. The article also notes that if the prices of healthier foods that usually cost more, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, experience a price reduction or go on sale, people are more likely to buy them. If you have more money to spend on food, you might be more likely to purchase pricier fresh produce, quality meats and low-fat dairy foods.
You might like to think that you're not influenced by commercials and advertising, but the fact is that ads can have an impact on the food choices of many people, especially children. In fact, according to the Yale Rudd Center, snack consumption increases right after seeing advertisements for snack foods. Advertising applies to your children, too. The Yale Rudd Center also notes that children are more likely to eat unhealthy foods if they have cartoon characters on the packaging. That fact might go both ways, however. If cartoon characters appear on packages of healthy foods, children might also be more willing to eat them.
The environment around you can influence what foods you choose to eat. If you go out to dinner and everyone else is having nachos or fatty burgers, you might be more likely to order the same thing. If everyone else is eating a salad, you're probably more likely to eat a salad, too. Plate size is another environmental factor. Eating on a larger plate means that you're more likely to eat more food, according to CBS News. Eating on a smaller plate often means that you'll eat less food. Even the neighborhood you live in can influence what foods you choose to eat, according to a 2005 article published in "Physiology and Behavior." Poorer neighborhoods often have less access to grocery stores that stock healthy foods while more well-off neighborhoods usually have access to a wider variety of nutritious choices.
- CBS News: Why Do We Eat When We're Not Hungry?
- Journal of Nutrition: Pricing Effects on Food Choices
- Influences on Food Choices and Food Patterns; McGraw-Hill
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food—Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences: Report to Congress
- Physiology and Behavior: Environmental Influences on Food Choice, Physical Activity and Energy Balance
- Yale Rudd Center: Impack on Marketing
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images