Do you eat with your eyes? Texture, Taste, Habits and Appearance…what drives your food choices?

Every individual has a reason to eat. Hunger, Appearance, Smells, Texture and Habit.

The key driver for wanting to eat is usually hunger. But what we chose to eat is not always the best at that moment. When we are hungry, we just want satiated, but we as humans need energy and nutrients in order to survive and not feel hungry. There is a difference between hunger and just wanting to satiate. Satisfying our appetite, can mean eating the wrong things at the time of feeling that way. Our central nervous systems control our balance between hunger and appetite.

When we are hungry, we just want to eat anything, not thinking about what food is providing nutrients for our bodies. We look for foods that provide palatability and give us pleasure by eating a particular food. Sweet and high fat foods that smell good, but are probably not the best choice.

When we learn to understand ourselves better, it is easier to set goals and create an action plan according to our own individual needs. When we are aware of these influences, we can then begin to make better, healthier food choices.

Culture, religion, family, peers, cost, income, cooking skills, time and availability all play a role in how, when and what we eat.

Texture is important in determining the eating quality of food. It can have a strong influence on food nutrition and intake. Some textures of foods are: Watery, (soups) Crunchy (crackers, chips, salads and roasted foods), Creamy, (purees, ice cream and puddings), Chewy, (pizza, caramel, grains, and breads).

Smell, have you ever walked into an Italian Restaurante and smelled the fresh bread baking and the pasta cooking? Immediately your stomach starts to growl. It initiates that inert sense of hunger. Sometimes it even changes your meal choice that was already decided. The smell of our grandmother’s home cooking or baking was always good memory for me.

Taste and Habits kind of go together for me. Some people who enjoy the taste of ketchup, usually from their childhood, will make it a habit to put it on everything they eat. Peanut butter the same way! You can also look at it as foods that you have always enjoyed because of their taste. It may remind us of our childhood, or it just becomes a habit. It is hard to break away from our habits and try new things.

Appearance, they say that “we eat with our eyes”. Looking at a beautiful plate of pasta, or a medium rare filet is hard to beat! Mashed potatoes and gravy, or a cheesy Mac n Cheese. It is a fact that when food looks unappetizing, they are often not eaten. Visually cues can also alter how we accept the food by a perceived odor and flavor.

Eating is mindful. How often have you eaten something and didn’t really want it, but you ate it anyway? This is called impulse eating. Eating is enjoying your food and overeating is when you are no longer enjoying the food. Its emotional and mindless.

In order to ensure healthier food choices, you need to become aware of why, when and how much you eat. This is being mindful. Learn healthier choices by only eating when you are hungry and take time to think about the nutrients in the food that you want to fuel your body with.

In order to ensure healthier food choices, be aware of how impulses influence you’re eating habits. Some examples of this would be: Grocery shopping when you are hungry, or ordering snacks at the movies.

Eating is meant to be Enjoyed, so if you are not enjoying your food, stop eating.

…remember to make a memory every day and don’t apologize for who you are…Rebecca