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Factors that condition the eating habits that govern our diet
Eating habits constitute behaviors highly influenced by social, economic and religious aspects, among others. These behaviors have remained almost unchanged for long periods of time, however, given the current evidence of the impact of diet on health, today there is a fight for something not thought of, the change of eating habits in a relatively short time, for the sake of the rescue of a healthy and correct diet, typical of our ancestors and that today we are trying to revitalize to face the pandemics that humanity suffers.
Each country has habits that they express through the selection and combinations of foods that characterize their diet. For this reason, ignoring them when designing a menu is wrong, because only if the food is palatable will it be possible for them to consume food and be properly nourished.
The word habit is defined as a disposition acquired by repeated acts, therefore we speak of a food habit when that disposition by repetition is associated with food, that is, they are habits that are repeated from birth to adulthood. When talking about the habit of a country, apparently everything related to the food that is eaten is clarified, however, other aspects such as: how much is eaten, the frequency of consumption in different events of the day, where and with whom it is eaten and even the sensory characteristics of the dishes of greater consumption, would enter to better characterize the eating habits and sometimes, they are hardly taken into account.
Eating habits are influenced by different factors, where without a doubt, the availability of food is a strong determining factor, but there are other aspects that contribute to its formation, among which are:
Geographical aspects: they condition food production based on factors such as: the quality of the land, the climate, the availability of water, the season of the year, the production capacity.
Cultural aspects: are those that are part of traditions, religions and taboos in many human groups, the selection, preparation and consumption of food are subordinate to traditional beliefs and methods, and are transmitted from one generation to another.
Economic aspects: they are associated with rising costs, scarcity and purchasing power; which leads to the modification of the eating habits of many families by looking for alternatives that are not always beneficial. However, the importance of economic factors is indisputable, proving that in general, as income increases, the nutritional quality of the diet improves.
Social aspects: the individual belongs to various social groups, therefore we cannot dispense with the effect of collective behavior on food habits. The occupation itself imposes certain schedules and types of food on different groups.
Technological processes: food technology has also influenced customs and eating habits. It provides improvement of sensory properties, reduces or avoids undesirable characteristics, modifies the composition of the food by increasing or decreasing the content of nutrients, in addition to contributing to the commercial and cultural exchange between regions and countries with the consequent process of transculturation, which also induces change in eating habits.
Religion: it conditions customs by prohibiting the consumption of some foods or attributing it to other sacred values. An example is the prohibition of the consumption of pork between Mohammedans and Jews, the preference for the turkey at Christmas and the matzo bread that represents the body of Christ in the case of Christians, and the fact that Hindus do not eat meat. of beef and very few try foods of animal origin, except milk and its derivatives.
Media: propaganda and advertising campaigns have a great effect on changing the family's eating habits. True or not, they make it difficult for people to judge what is correct and choose inappropriate products for their diet. Commercial advertisements for jams, sweets and alcoholic beverages are an example that, far from nourishing, promotes the appearance of habits that are harmful to health.
Educational aspects: the educational level of the family, especially that of the member chosen for food planning, is important in the selection and preparation of the diet, making it more or less balanced, and influencing the effects it will have on each of its members. For this reason, it is vitally important to carry out food programs to modify inappropriate eating habits.
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the nutritional aspects of the foods they select to make their menus. However, poor labeling in most countries sometimes creates confusion regarding which foods to select or change in your eating pattern, and in some way this constitutes another factor that can influence decisions to change one food for another.
Educational campaigns worldwide, and particularly in each country, are influencing the change towards a healthy lifestyle, where eating and changing eating habits are of crucial importance. The objective, therefore, is to convert all the information on diet-health-disease into something practical that helps the population to select the type and quantity of foods that allow them to prepare the optimal diet.