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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.

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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • DAISY443
    Great blog! My problem is that I really, really like food. The challenge is to make things that are good for me and won't add pounds taste as good as all the other not so good for me food that I like!
    1871 days ago
    so correct! thanks for sharing that!
    1871 days ago
    Truth, beautifully articulated.

    1871 days ago
    Excellent list
    - as Lincoln said, "If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it."
    1871 days ago
    A lot of truth there. Even in maintenance, I recognize eating for avoidance, comfort, and boredom. The only difference is, I can sometimes hold the line and at other times I will eat differently to fit the avoidance, comfort, and boredom foods into the daily nutrition.
    1872 days ago
  • ANDI571
    I have always said, I eat out of all emotions. Eating for entertainment has been my biggest obstacle the past few months. It's hard to over come.
    1872 days ago
  • HMARIE99
    Very interesting! I have definitely eaten for those reasons even if not hungry or if I know the dish is unhealthy. So many opportunities for self-sabotage if we aren't careful and thoughtful about what we put into our bodies!
    1872 days ago
    Social and emotional eating is something we all struggle with...if it were only as easy as strictly eating for nutritional reasons we'd all be in super shape. Great blog... and I identify with all each of the reasons you listed, too. It takes time to change, but so worth it.
    1872 days ago
    Very relevant and interesting blog. I could identify with every reason you listed for eating! Yes, understanding why we eat helps us use our logic to make better choices. Thanks for spelling it out so well. -Marsha
    1872 days ago
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