Relationships With Food

It can be hard to understand why people choose the foods they choose to eat. The relationship between food, our minds and our bodies is a complex one. When most people think about weight management, they think about food or the restriction of certain foods. This is only a small part of the whole picture. Without this fundamental understanding, any other nutritional knowledge you may gain might be useless.

Eating habits or food habits refer to why and how we eat, which foods are chosen, ways to obtain foods and who we eat with. Below is a list of common factors.

1. Habit – This affects everybody. The types of food we eat and our eating behaviour is predominantly habitual. By this we mean that very often we eat the same types of food at the same time and in the same way because it is learnt behaviour. For example, how we prepare our coffee – with cream and two sugars and a biscuit on the side.

2. Social – Social influences include our upbringing, cultural background and religion. The influence of peer pressure from loved ones, colleagues and friends is also likely to affect our food choices as well as work-related issues such as income and work schedule.

3. Emotions – Our mood, emotional status and psychological well-being will affect our food choices. We can also be affected by media campaigns, celebrity endorsements, fad diets, food scares and other such external influences.

4. Senses – The way food looks, smells, sounds, tastes and feels (its texture) can all have a major influence on whether we choose to eat it or not. The way in which food connects to our senses is widely used in food marketing campaigns to increase sales.

5. Physiological – Physiological influences relate to the body’s need to stay alive, i.e. its physiological need. Factors such as hormones which can be related to stress, pregnancy and illness etc. have a profound effect on our food choices.

6. Sports participation and exercise – It can be hard to maintain a balanced diet, especially if you are in a sport where you need to maintain the lightest weight possible!

Constant bad habits lead to a gain in weight

The term obese describes a person who’s very overweight, with a lot of body fat.

It’s a common problem in the UK that’s estimated to affect around 1 in every 4 adults and around 1 in every 5 children aged 10 to 11, according to the NHS.

Obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years and, on current estimates, more than half the population could be obese by 2050.

The cause of the rapid rise in obesity has been blamed on our modern lifestyles, including the prevalence of the car, TVs, computers, desk-bound jobs and high-calorie food. Today’s obesity levels are more than three times what they were in 1980, when only 6% of men and 8% of women were obese.

Most people who become obese put on weight gradually between the ages of 20 and 40, but there is some suggestion that the path is set in early childhood.

Obesity is now considered a world-wide epidemic. Contrary to popular belief, it is not caused by eating too much of any one nutrient, it is just caused by eating too many calories compared to what we need. Calories (energy) are provided by the nutrients carbohydrate, fat, protein and also alcohol. Having too many calories provided by any or all of these, over and above what the body really needs, means we store extra calories as body fat/weight.

Body fat is comprised of millions of fat cells, also called adipocytes, with the average adult having around 40 billion. The weight of adipose tissue is about 20 percent of body weight, making it one of the biggest organs in the body.

Fat can be defined by where it’s found in the body: subcutaneous fat is located just below the surface of the skin while visceral fat is found in the abdominal cavity, surrounding the internal organs.

Furthermore, there are two types of adipose tissue: White and brown. White adipose tissue is primarily used as an energy reserve and brown adipose tissue functions to generate heat.

Adipose tissue has been identified as an endocrine organ because of its production of signalling proteins, which influence several important functions including glucose and lipid metabolism, blood coagulation and insulin sensitivity. Excessive adipose tissue has been shown to disrupt the normal endocrine functions of fat cells and can negatively affect health.



Louise Riley
Author: Louise Riley