How Social Influences Affect Our Eating Habits
Social Influences are the environmental factors which affect your individual eating habits. They can be wide ranging and fully depend on your individual environment, culture and relationships. These factors, amongst others, can have a significant impact on your own individual eating habits and patterns of food consumption. So how exactly do these social influences affect your own eating habits and how are they best described? The following is a list of the many aspects of social influences which can shape your own eating habits. These include:
- Peer Pressure
- Morals and Ethics
Peer pressure revolves around pressure from friends and colleagues, regarding what foods are good and not good to eat. It can have a massive impact on eating habits, particularly on your ability to commit to long term, health eating plans. For example, you may be on a diet which excludes crisps but you might feel pressured into eating them if a friend or colleague mocks you for your attempts at dieting. Simple, unintended comments can be enough to make you fall off the diet wagon, resulting in loss of will-power and additional calories! Some people may be able to deal better with peer pressure than others, depending on their own self confidence and will-power. Just remember, you are trying to eat healthily for YOU! What another person is doing or eating should not impact upon any healthy diets which you are undertaking. Remember the importance of achieving your goals and don’t allow peer pressure to distract you from hitting your targets.
Religion plays a very big part in what you eat. For example, Muslims follow strict diets and cannot eat certain meats. Instead, they eat Halal meats and foods, which have been prepared in line with religious beliefs and practices.
Your culture and place of residence can also have a big impact on your dietary preferences. Throughout the world there are many different acceptable diets and they all differ from country to country. For example, what is considered a delicacy in one country could be a taboo in another country. In Western countries, it is almost unthinkable to eat dogs and domesticated animals, as we regard them as pets and animals to be looked after. In Asian countries, such as China, dog is a popular choice and is considered a conventional dish, The same can be said for horsemeat, which is scorned upon by many people in the UK, yet is classed as a delicacy and is increasingly popular in other European countries!
Morals & Ethics
Ethics play a big part in the day-to-day choices of food which you eat. Your own personal codes of what is acceptable and what is not will have a direct impact on what you choose to eat. For example, you might be a vegetarian because you don’t believe in eating animals. You may also not want to eat certain foods because you do not believe they are healthy or right for you - either way these beliefs should always be respected, whether it is by your friends, families or colleagues. The great thing about food is that there are plenty of varieties to choose from, so you can eat in line with your own moral and ethical beliefs.
Your location and social surroundings will play a big part in what you choose to eat. For instance, someone who lives in a bustling city like New York will eat very differently from someone who lives in a rural location and relies on agriculture. Similarly, if you live in a Western country, you are likely to have a diet which differs greatly from someone who lives in Asia.
Your personal income will inevitably impact on how well you eat. Those living in sub-standard conditions are far more likely to eat unhealthy foods, compared to those who earn comfortably and can afford to feed themselves well. This also relates to specific jobs and professions, some of which pay better than others and mean that people can afford to eat a healthy diet and make choices as to the kind of food they eat.
How can I make better choices with my diet?
Your eating habits and choices should always be about YOU! Make sure you eat the foods that make you happy and are in line with your own beliefs and circumstances, and not just from social influences. Some of the choices we have may be beyond our control, such as limitations on how much to spend on food and the types of food you can eat in accordance with your religion. In these circumstances it’s all about being able to eat as well as you can and make healthy choices which are right for you. Make sure you eat the foods you enjoy and try not to let other people influence your dietary choices. Always remember, eat well and look after number 1! Your social influences should not dictate your diet choice.
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