Why do we eat?
Thursday, April 11, 2013
When we approach the subject of food from a purely biological perspective, we understand that humans eat food for nutrition. Food is what nourishes us and helps us to grow and maintain our good health. Without food as nourishment, we could not survive.
Biologically it’s very straightforward. We should be eating foods that offer us the needed amount of nutrients – and that’s all.
However, we humans are much more complex than just our biology.
We are also emotional beings…
…and we are social beings.
So it follows that our eating behaviors are not ruled by biology alone.
Rather, we all have emotional and social reasons for eating as well.
And I would guess that those of us who eat too much have more of these social and emotional reasons for eating than others.
Here are some of my own reasons for eating that I have seen or used throughout the years:
Eating food for RECREATION
Let’s go out and have a picnic. Let’s bring food to the beach, to the park.
Let’s have a barbecue.
Eating food for ENTERTAINMENT
Let’s get together with friends and have lunch/dinner/breakfast at a restaurant.
Let’s have a party with lots of good food.
Eating food for CELEBRATION
It’s a special occasion! Let’s celebrate with special food!
Eating food for PLEASURE
The taste of this food is SOOO good, I just cannot get enough of it.
Eating food for ENERGY BOOSTING
This is a long afternoon of work. I feel I need some extra food to bring up my energy level.
Eating food for AVOIDANCE BEHAVIOR
I am not looking forward to beginning that task. Let me have a snack first, and then I’ll start.
Eating food for COMFORT
I feel discouraged/tired/cold. Let me eat some good comfort food to feel better.
Eating food to ease BOREDOM
I can’t think of a thing to do that is interesting. Let’s see what’s in the refrigerator that’s good to eat.
Eating food as a COMPANION
When it’s just me by myself, I like to nibble on this special snack/eat this special dish.
Eating food as a HABIT
On Friday evenings we always like to eat this special dish because it’s the start of the weekend.
We always have dessert after our Sunday dinner.
We usually like to nibble on_____ when we watch television in the evening.
Whenever we ______ we like to eat _______. (Fill in the blanks.)
Eating food as a TRADITION
Our family has been making this dish for generations. We always eat it in this way.
In our culture/religion, certain special foods are eaten as part of this season.
My mother’s grandmother passed down her recipe for ______, and we always eat it when _____. (Fill in the blanks.)
While I am attempting to change my diet and my eating behaviors,
I believe it is important to first recognize all these different eating situations.
Once I could see and understand all the various roles that food played for me –
I was better able to start modifying some of my eating behaviors.
With time, I have eliminated some of them.
Others I still struggle with.
But I’m working on it.