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About food choices

Everybody eats, and pretty much everybody is opinionated about what they eat. The reasons include medical conditions, weight loss, healthy eating, religion, philosophies such as vegetarianism and sustainability, or just plain “yum” or “yuck.”

Here you can learn about the reasons for food choices, and find information about diets, recommendations for medical conditions and healthy eating, religious and other food philosophies, and psychological reactions to foods.

Reasons for food choices

Physical| Philosophical | Psychological | Patterns

Most food choices fit into one of three reasons – physical, philosophical, or psychological, as explained below. Some don’t fit neatly into one of these categories – for example vegetarianism may be for health or philosophical reasons. There are also various patterns that can be seen about which food choices are followed and when.

Physical / health reasons for food choices – “It’s good for me” or “It’s bad for me”

  • Medical conditions – many chronic conditions may be helped by food choices, from diabetes to hypertension to celiac disease and many more
  • Weight loss diets – there are hundreds of these, and new ones all the time, with different recommendations that people follow
  • Healthy eating – food and nutrition recommendations for conventional and alternative health — e.g. low fat diet, reducing or omitting sugars

Learn more about physical food choices – number of people, recommendations, etc.

Philosophical reasons for food choices– “I believe this is the right thing to do”

  • Religions and sub-groups within religions – e.g. kosher, halal, Jain, Seventh-Day Adventist
  • Ethics / environmental — e.g.  vegetarianism, sustainable seafood, local food
  • Traditionalism – e.g.  seasonal foods, macrobiotics
  • Economics — can’t afford certain foods (this doesn’t quite fit in the category, except that choices are made how to spend money)
  • Expressions of individualism — sometimes kids won’t eat something purely because their parents want them to eat it

Learn more about philosophical food choices – number of people, trends, etc.

Psychological reasons for food choices – “Yum!” or “Yuck!”

  • Foods we are programmed to choose because of flavor or texture — prefer sweet and fatty; avoid bitter, slimy, grainy, and moldy
  • Trained responses — it’s ok to eat blue cheese even though it’s moldy
  • Unconscious responses after sickness — you can’t eat something if you got sick after eating it and subconsciously associated the food with the sickness
  • Culturally acceptable foods and societal norms — many people don’t eat organ meats because everyone thinks they’re disgusting

Learn more about psychological food choices – origins, etc.

Patterns of food choices

  • Individual foods
  • Food groups — e.g. avoiding carbohydrates on a low-carb diet; some people with arthritis might avoid all foods in the nightshade family
  • Combinations — e.g. avoid mixing carbs and proteins, or milk and meat
  • Timing — e.g. eat only fruit in the morning; avoid certain foods during Lent
  • Eating at home vs. eating away

Food choices for business

Food-related businesses may benefit from a greater understanding of food choices, to increase the share points of the foods they offer.

  • Food manufacturers/CPGs
  • Restaurants and foodservice
  • Food media and recipe writers
  • Food retailers and wholesalers
  • Anyone else offering food and food ideas, e.g. meal delivery services, weight loss diet creators

Learn more about how your business can grow by understanding food choices