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What factors influence our food habits and weight

In this article you will:
  • learn how your food habits are formed;
  • understand why certain food habits stop you from making your weight stable;
  • find out if you hold any misconception about food;
  • form new, better food behavior;

Everyday life and food habits

Your everyday life is your schedule, location of shops and restaurants, and other things. Let’s see how it works in real life.

A busy day at work, and you should skip your lunch. You are trying to have a bite on the go, come home late, and overeat during dinner.
You wanted some fish, but the fridge is empty. There is no way you’ll go to the shop, because you are way too tired, and you go with some chicken leftovers. You are full but not satisfied, not in the least. There’s a strange feeling of not having enough, and you eat the whole jar of cookies.

If you follow your eating schedule and don’t skip your meals, you will never experience the so-called hunger drive. It will help to avoid the following food habits:

Overeating because of the hunger drive
The satiety comes shortly after you finish eating. When we are hungry, we tend to make a mistake when choosing the food we need. This way, we don’t hear our body saying it’s full, and, as a result, we just simply overeat.
Having bites on the go
We run to the office or to classes, skipping breakfast. What do we see there? The usual load of tea, coffee, and cookies. And we consume our daily share of cookies and chocolate every half an hour but don’t feel right or satiated.
Overeating when not feeling satiated
Remember the time when you spent minutes looking into the fridge and thinking about having a bite, even though you had had a proper dinner?
It happens when you eat just about anything, not listening to your body signals. The outcome is straightforward: you are full but not satiated.

Being full is having no hunger drive. When you are full, your body does not generate hunger signals.
Being satisfied leads to a break in eating. When satisfied, you receive the satisfaction signal and can stop eating without putting too much effort into it.

In other words, we can eat even if we are full, but there is no satisfaction signal. This can lead to overeating.
You can easily overlook how overeating and having bites on the go impact your weight. Still, these food habits are blocking your path to a healthy weight.

How society impacts your food habits

Social factors cover your social eating and everything related.
Let's see how it works in real life.

  • Your work colleagues may tempt you into buying some pizza and eating it together. You are not that much into pizza, but you join them to stay in.
  • Your mom puts the full plate before you think you need to eat more.
  • You drink some tea or coffee during your workday because you deserve a break.
  • Jane made mac-n-cheese for kids and a steak with potatoes for her partner. However, she forgot about herself and ate some mac-n-cheese with steak and potatoes. With gravy, no doubt. Feeling tired and unhappy, Jane also ate some chocolate bonbons with her evening coffee.

Our food is a part of our lives. Often it becomes an integral part of our meetings with friends, family reunions and work culture.

It's ok if we are hungry or if these reunions and working breaks are not that common. Yet sometimes we can overeat because of others or order something we don't like just because we think our friends or family won't understand us. It is about time to learn to stop eating or follow your healthy food habits. This way, you can still enjoy your time with friends and family.

How your emotions impacts your food habits

Everything you feel—emotions, daily events, and stress—may impact your food habits, one way or another. Let's see how it works in real life.

  • To avoid doing boring stuff at work, you make coffee breaks every hour.
  • You feel stressed, and you start eating desserts just to calm yourself.
  • Did you notice that you were buying a piece of cake—or two—after your day at work?
  • Or having a cup of tea when doing some boring stuff? And your tea usually comes with cookies or bonbons.
  • Or maybe you noticed that you were literally eating a bucket of ice cream after having had an argument with your partner?

Often, we compensate negative feelings by having some tasty things or buying some new clothes. The simplest way to wash the negative emotions out is eating.

It's OK to eat some cookies, bonbons or ice cream. However, when you are stressed out and try to compensate, it lead to an eating disorder called a Compulsive eating disorder.

You can check if you may have a Compulsive eating disorder:

  • You control your mood with eating
  • You overeat when you’re angry, disappointed, feel bored, or stressed
  • You feel a certain abdominal discomfort
  • You cannot stop eating until you feel physically uncomfortable
  • You feel that you lose control
  • You cannot stop even if you want to
  • You are trying to have a bite every time you see food.
  • You eat faster than usual
  • You ignore taste and flavor
  • You feel guilty because of the amount of food you just ate

How your views and self-perception impact your food habits. Dietary rules

We are being told that we need to eat more, work out more, and have a slim body. These contradicting views damage our self-esteem and self-perception. That is precisely why it is getting challenging to develop healthy habits and accept ourselves.
Here are a few real-life examples of how your views on food, self-perception can impact your weight. Let’s see how it works in real life. You may have heard some of them before:

  • It’s not OK to eat after 6 p.m.
  • Vegetables are healthy.
  • Cakes and pastries are not.
  • Intermittent fasting is the best option for your body. It’s not really wise not to use it.
  • Neat and slim people are beautiful and healthy.
  • You can’t have leftovers, even if you can’t really finish your plate.
  • The only way to watch a movie is with popcorn and treats.

The very idea of healthy eating is based on mixed and conflicting information. Nutritionists often say we need to eat more vegetables and no fats. And later, we learn about specific keto diets that actually require eating fats to lose some weight. Let’s not forget about vegans and vegetarians either. And all those people are saying—loud and clear—that their diet systems are the best systems of all times.

At the same time, the gigantic food industry tells us every second that their products can help us relax or become famous. The fitness industry suggests that you need to work out more. Fashion tells us that slim bodies are good, healthy, and happy.

Misconceptions that harm our food habits:

When we should eat
This is our view on “healthy” eating and different conditions of consumption.
Let’s see how it works in real life.

“I won’t eat before dinner.”
“I won’t eat after 6.”
“Breakfast and dinner are and will be my only meals a day.”
“I will eat alone”.

Such views on eating do not always correspond to your needs and unhealthy. You may go to bed at 11:30 p.m., but follow the principle of not eating after 6 p.m.
You may stick to this rule for some time. But in the end, you will get up tired and disturbed because you weren’t eating for 14 hours straight. And you will probably lose your grip one day and will find yourself emptying your fridge in the middle of the night. And we have already learned that the feeling of being hungry may lead to overeating.
What we should eat
That’s what we think about products we can and cannot eat.
Let’s see how it works in real life.

"I don’t eat chocolate.”
“I don’t eat products with too many carbs.”
“I won’t eat this meal until I know all of its contents”.

Those views can be dangerous in so many ways.
First, healthy products may become “unhealthy” all of a sudden. Chocolate, for example, contains flavonoids, natural antioxidants, and tryptophan, which works as a natural antidepressant. Chocolate helps decrease levels of “bad” cholesterin and raises the “good” one. This way, it helps to diminish your risk of having heart attacks in the distant future. That’s why it is actually good to have some chocolate from time to time.
Second, the food you ban permanently looks so good and tasty. As soon as our willpower weakens, we risk overeating again. Such taboos are out in the way of forming healthy food habits
How much we should eat
This is our view on the “proper” amount of food we eat.
Let’s see how it works in real life.

"I will eat no more than 1000 calories a day.”
“Three spoons of food for a meal is my max from now on.”
“If eating in a company, I will eat less than others.”

Our body requires nutrition and supplements, and their amount varies from day to day. It changes according to different factors that are pretty hard to follow, even for a trained nutritionist. And the weight app won’t help you here as well.

The difference between dietary guidelines and strict diets

For some people, “dietary principles" are recommendations rather than rigid, binding rules. Let's see how it works.

“There will be fewer sweets in my diet".
Such people won't care if they allow themselves a piece of chocolate. But for some, such “principles" can become a “law".

" I won't eat sweets at all while dieting"

Such categorical statements do not tolerate indulgences or occasional digressions. Following them is difficult. And their violation entails negative emotions—guilt, sadness, despair (“Why is it always so with me, what kind of person am I?") or anger (“I'm so sick of it all, I can't take it anymore"). A person who has given up sweets, but can't stand it and eats a chocolate bar, may feel guilty. After all, they didn't keep their promise.
Summary of factors that can affect eating habits:
  • Everyday life factors are busyness, remoteness of stores or restaurants, and other things that prevent you from eating or recognizing the feeling of hunger in time.
  • Social factors cover your social eating and everything related. You eat for the company, even if we are not hungry. Or we eat the same as everyone else, not what we want, and then we overeat because of a lack of food satisfaction.
  • Emotions impact on what we eat and how much. We try to compensate with food for negative emotions, bad moods, or stress. As a result, we eat when we are not physiologically hungry.
  • Your views and self-perception impact your food habits. These factors contribute to the formation of dietary rules (when,what and how much we should eat).