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Healthy Eating: Influences on Eating Behavior


Topic Overview

Being aware of the factors that influence what and how much you eat can help you make informed eating choices.

Food is everywhere. For most people, it is easy to find something to eat, especially unhealthy options.

Routines. Plan to eat, and make family meals routine. Children benefit from the social skills, plus everyone gets a balanced meal.

Marketing. Unhealthy foods can look fun, easy, and tasty with colorful marketing packages and free toys. Frozen, instant, microwavable, prepackaged—these foods aren't usually fruits and vegetables. And they often have a lot of either salt, sugar, or fat—and sometimes all three!

Cultural and social meanings. Some foods are comforting and familiar, even if they are not nutritious and healthy. Religious, political, or social beliefs help us make food choices for ourselves and our families.

Family and living situations. Other people may shop and prepare the food we eat. This is especially true for children and their eating habits.

Emotions.Depression, anxiety, boredom, and stress can lead to unhealthy eating.

Knowledge of nutrition. Basic nutrition doesn't have to be complicated. Don't get confused when a new study in the news conflicts with everything you know. Look at the big picture. More research might need to be done before it becomes fact.

Timing. It isn't so much the time of day that matters but what and how much you eat when you do. The longer you wait between eating, the more you tend to eat at your next meal or snack. For example, if you eat an early dinner, you may be hungry before bedtime. Consider eating just 1 hour later, or don't eat dessert.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last RevisedFebruary 4, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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