The Cultural, Social, Physical and Psychological factors that affect an individual’s food choices

A lot of different factors affect a person choice in food and their thoughts about food. We may believe the food that we eat is normal and, of course, everyone eats similar to how we do. That isn't always the case…

Manchester Food Market.



Cultural
Around the world there are many different types of cultures that are influenced by the location of living, the food available in that area and religion followed by those people.  The main influence of a specific diet from our ancestors was due to the fact that they were hunter-gathers and whatever food was available in the immediate area was what they’d consume, this also explains why different areas of the world have completely different diet to another part for example the Chinese have more rice and noodles based food in their diet whereas the Italians have more pasta and bread in theirs.



Social
We humans are such social creatures! Family and Friends play a vital role in our lives. We learn or usually pick up habits and certain patterns from the people we spend time most with, so our habits revolving around food can change depending on the people we spend time with. Even the media and strangers influence us and the way we consume food.
A prime example I can give you is: ME! My parents make me food at precise times every day and ensure I’m well fed at home; however at university, I don’t have a pattern. I eat whatever I can get my hands on, whatever time it is. I’ve got up at 1 in morning feeling peckish, ventured into the kitchen, to emerge with a plate of rice, veg and chicken back to my room to eat, while binge watching Netflix.
The way we behave when out for a meal is also completely different to the way we eat at home. We become aware of people around us more; may they be friends that we are with, or complete strangers, we pick food that we believe would be acceptable for us to eat. [2 – Salvy]



Psychological & Physical
The way you think about a type of delicacy can affect you either wanting or trying the food. For example it’s the ‘norm’ to eat frogs legs and snails in France, however you may be ‘grossed out’, which can affect you in trying new foods because of that thought. However some people may not have a ‘mental block’ and can sometimes crave and want to try new foods and delicacies because of the thrill it gives them!
The way a food looks physical or the feel of it in your mouth can alter in the choices of foods you wish to eat. For example some people don’t like the way fish tastes or feels in their mouth, so can be put of trying foods with fish in it.
Allergies are another main factor for how we choose to eat certain foods. Dairy intolerance for example can affect you from eating particular types of foods due to the availability of an alternate option.  


Which would you say affects the way you eat your food? Or do you crave something new to satisfy your taste buds?


References:

[1]  Handbook of Behavior, Food and Nutrition By Victor R. Preedy, Ronald Ross Watson, Colin R. Martin (2011)  [online] Page: 988 http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=KuAEPOPbW6MC&pg=PA988&lpg=PA988&dq=Food+Choice+Process+Model+%28Sobal+et+al,+2009%29&source=bl&ots=i-DT70k3nu&sig=srooLv7G8N49o762OavU8tBJBsA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=IqWEVK60Bsn6UoeXgfAP&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Food%20Choice%20Process%20Model%20(Sobal%20et%20al%2C%202009)&f=false
[2] SALVY, S., JARRIN, D., PALUCH, R., IRFAN, N., & PLINER, P. (2007). Effects of social influence on eating in couples, friends and strangers Appetite, [Online]  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17296248
[3] Sobal, J., Bisogni, CA., (2009) Constructing Food Choice Decisions. [Online] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19787306

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