Factors that Influence Food Habits and Culture
Factors that Influence Food Habits and Culture
Food not only acts as a necessity of life, but it also provides a way for people to bond and display their culture. People’s food habits act as a way for them to identify themselves. Food habits refer to the reasons why people eat, their methods of eating, the form of food they eat, and the way they get, store, and get rid of food (Rodriguez, 2002). Several factors influence people’s food habits and culture. Some of these factors include a person’s budget, health, and religion. Other factors such as age, gender, and social and cultural backgrounds determine people’s food habits. People buy what they can afford. Some people have the desire to eat in a healthier way, but they are not able to do this because they cannot afford healthy food. Junk food tends to be more readily available and consequently cheaper to buy than healthy food. People with low incomes find it hard to eat at restaurants, and they find it more economical to make their own meals. Food availability also determines people’s food habits. People tend to eat what they can find easily. Rare foods tend to be more expensive, and people avoid this. Foods in season are cheaper. This makes a person’s food habit seasonal and flexible, yet homogenous enough to define a person’s identity (Bellisle, 2012).
A person’s health and lifestyle will determine their food habits. People with health problems requiring unique considerations of their diet will be more selective with what they buy. For instance, the food habits for a person suffering from diabetics are different from those of a person without any health problems. Some people are strict when it comes to their lifestyles, and they will not buy unhealthy foods. Health and lifestyle concerns have led to the development of different classifications of people based on what they eat. For example, there are various types of vegetarians. Serious vegetarians do not eat any animal product. Some vegetarians consume some animal products such as eggs and different milk products, but they do not take meat. Other people choose to take white meat only, and they avoid red meat. These classifications are based on people’s concerns about their health and lifestyle.
A person’s social background determines his or her food habits. People are influenced by the people they interact with in different circumstances, and it is difficult for one to make individual choices all the time. Although a person might have developed a personal food habit, socializing with other people on a constant basis will influence that person to the extent that he will not be able to resist the temptation of adopting the other people’s food habits. People’s culture largely defines their food habits. The social setting also influences food habits. People spend a lot of time away from their homes when they are at work or in school. The social setting will determine the food habits that a person develops since people will eat what is on offer (Bellisle, 2012).
Different cultures have different food habits. Culture influences the way people prepare and consume their foods (Bellisle, 2012). The culture of food in Mexico is different from the food culture in France. When these cultures live together in a different region, they continue following their culture, although they adopt other cultures as well. Hence, in California, the Latinos will tend to identify themselves by developing food habits relevant to their culture, but they will have more flexibility in the way they combine these foods, which is different from people in their respective countries. Religion defines and influences a person’s food habits (Rodriguez, 2002). Some religions discourage their followers from eating certain foods. The common examples of this are the Jews and Muslims who do not eat pork, or the Hindus who tend to avoid beef. Some religions do not consider it a problem when their followers consume wine, but other religions forbid the consumption of any form of alcohol.
A person’s skills and experiences define his or her food habit. Some people have excellent culinary skills and they enjoy making food. Such people rarely eat at restaurants or other food outlets, and they rarely indulge in junk food, as they insist on making their own meals. Even people who are passionate about cooking, but who may not have the necessary skills, find it more enjoyable to buy raw foods from the market and prepare them at home. On the other hand, some people are not concerned or interested in the kitchen, and they avoid making food. Such people tend to eat out more often, or they buy prepared foods. In this way, a person’s perceptions concerning cooking influence his or her food habits.
The knowledge and beliefs that people have as regards to food helps in determining their food habits. Some people are food enthusiasts, in the sense that they like carrying out research concerning the nutrients benefits of food. Other people hold certain beliefs about food. They will read all articles they can find that talk about food. This will help in forming and determining their food habits and culture. A person’s psychological state can also influence his or her food habit. Some people indulge in taking certain types of foods when they are angry or stressed. For instance, some people consume sugary foods when stressed, as this gives them comfort. This might develop a food pattern. The time that a person has determines their food habits. People who are busy all the time do not have enough time to make their own foods. They feel tired after a day’s work, and they prefer ordering food or eating out after work.
Bellisle, F. (2012). The Determinants of food choice. European Food Information Council. Retrieved from http://www.eufic.org/article/en/expid/review-food-choice/
Cleveland Clinic (2012). Stay fit: The psychology of eating. Retrieved from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/weight_control/hic_the_psychology_of_eating.aspx
Rodriguez, C. J. (2002). Eating habits. Retrieved from http://www.diet.com/g/eating-habits