Feeding is a voluntary act: you can choose, prepare and eat food as you can or want.
Dario Bogni names the main driver of diet is obviously hunger, but what we decide to eat is not determined solely by physiological or nutritional needs. Other factors that influence food choices are:
• Biological determinants such as hunger, appetite, and sense of taste.
• Economic determinants such as cost, income and availability in the market.
• Physical determinants such as access, education, personal abilities (eg, for cooking) and available time.
• Social determinants such as culture, family, coworkers, and eating patterns.
• Psychological determinants such as mood, stress, and guilt.
Biological determinants of food choice
Hunger and satiety
Our physiological needs are the basic determinants of food choice. Human beings need energy and nutrients to survive and respond to feelings of hunger and satiety (satisfaction of appetite, state of absence of hunger between two occasions of intake). The central nervous system is involved in controlling the balance between hunger, appetite stimulation, and food intake.
The volume of food or the size of the rations consumed can constitute an important sign of satiety. Many people are unaware of how large the servings must be to be considered adequate and so ingest excess energy without realizing it, says Bogni Dario.
Palatability is proportional to the pleasure that a person experiences when they eat a specific food. It depends on the sensory properties of the food, such as taste, aroma, texture, and appearance. Sweet, high-fat foods have undeniable sensory appeal. In this sense, it is not surprising that food is consumed as a source of nutrition since it is also consumed for the pleasure it brings. As palatability increases, there is an increase in food intake.
The "flavor" is one of the factors that most influences eating behavior. Actually, "taste" is the sum of all the sensory stimulation that occurs when eating a food. This sensory stimulation includes not only the flavor itself, but also the aroma, appearance and texture of the food. These sensory aspects are believed to play a role, in particular, in spontaneous food choices.
Food choice 1From a young age, taste and familiarity with food influence our attitude towards food. Innate human inclinations are the taste for sweetness and the rejection of bitterness, which are present from birth.
Economic and physical determinants of food choice
Cost and accessibility
The cost of food is one of the main factors that determines the choice of these. Low-income population groups have been shown to have a greater tendency to follow an unbalanced diet and eat few fruits and vegetables. However, the fact of having greater amounts of money does not translate into a higher quality diet, although the variety of foods should increase. Accessibility to shopping malls is another important physical factor that influences food choices, and depends on resources such as transportation and geographic location. When available within towns and cities, healthy foods tend to be more expensive than in supermarkets.
Physical determinants such as access, education, personal abilities
Education and knowledge
Education level can influence eating behavior during adulthood. It is convenient that a proper nutritional education is carried out from an early age, starting at home and continuing in schools. It is necessary that there be State policies to promote this educational task since childhood is the optimal age to form adequate habits in food choices. It is important to make a commitment to transmit accurate and consistent messages through the various communication channels, in food labeling and, of course, through health professionals.
Social determinants of food choice
Influence of membership in one social class or another
There are differences between different social classes in relation to food and nutrient intake. Poor diet can lead to both insufficient nutrition (micronutrient deficiency) and over-feeding (excessive energy consumption that causes overweight and obesity); these are problems that different sectors of society face. The upper social class sectors take special care of the body, with exhaustive control of diet and frequency to the gym. On the other hand, the lower social class does not control food quality as much as it is primarily concerned with satisfying hunger, with the very act of eating some food, compares Dario Bogni.
Cultural influences lead to differences in the habitual consumption of certain foods and in the customs of their preparation; in certain cases they can lead to restrictions such as the exclusion of meat and milk from the diet. However, it is possible to change cultural influences: when an individual moves to another country, he usually adopts the specific eating habits of the local culture of that country.
The social environment
Although most food is eaten at home, there is an increasing proportion of food consumed outside the home; for example: in schools, at work and in restaurants. The place where food is eaten can affect food choices, since you have to limit yourself to the options offered in those places. Unfortunately, in many work and school settings, access to healthy food options is scarce.
Stress (psychological strain) is a frequent feature of modern life and can modify behaviors that affect health, such as physical exercise, tobacco use, or food choices.
The effect of stress on food choice and intake depends on each individual, the stressor or factors and the circumstances. In general, when they are under stress, some people eat more than normal, and others less than normal. Numerous studies show that if occupational stress is prolonged or frequent, adverse changes in diet may appear, increasing the possibility of weight gain and, consequently, cardiovascular risk.
Food Choice Mood
Hippocrates was the first to suggest that food can have a healing power; However, it was not until the Middle Ages when it was considered that food could be a tool to modify temperament and mood. Today it is recognized that food influences our mood and that mood has a great influence on food choices. Mood and stress can affect behavior – regarding food choices – and, possibly, short and long-term responses to food-type interventions.