Do you ever find yourself opening, closing, and reopening your refrigerator door? Standing in your pantry, arms crossed, eyes wide, scanning each shelf over and over again? Or maybe you always know what your body needs, you’re okay with eating the same foods, day in, day out; routine is important to you! Despite your situation, there are several variables that affect your choices and influence what you eat on a daily basis. I’ve listed five below!
- Nutritional Element
- Perhaps you’re choosing foods based on their nutritional value. You read something, somewhere, once upon a time and it’s been engrained into your cerebellum. Fibre-rich foods are your friend! Green tea helps you lose weight! Choose lean cuts of meat! So you do all of this, you even throw in a solid 8 cups of fluid throughout the day. Some points accurate, some not so much, but you follow those rules because it makes you feel nourished and accomplished to do so.
- Body Composition & Social Norms
- Maybe physical appearance is important to you and every single choice you make balances on that consideration. Whether it’s an upcoming trip, those too-tight blue jeans, or overall health and wellness that are driving your choices. Perhaps the latest craze promises 25lbs. down in a month and encompasses Hollywood’s’ most famous sporting their beach-ready-bods because of it; yup, it MUST work! Right?
- Personal Values & Beliefs
- Perhaps you feel very strongly regarding animal cruelty so you’ve decided to be a vegan or a vegetarian. Maybe you prefer to live as the caveman did before us so you’re following the Paleo methodology. Personally, growing up with Ukrainian grandparents, I’ve built a very strong relationship with perogies so I choose to squeeze them into my macros any chance I get!
- We can’t forget about our experiences; this has a great influence on the foods we choose. If you’ve read my first blog post about establishing healthy, Tiny Habits then it’s also important to know that we have, can, and will also develop some not so favorable habits, unfortunately; however, this isn’t entirely bad! Kind of like that last sentence, wow, run-on. Let’s say you crave something sweet after dinner, overtime you could try swapping the chocolate bar for a fiber granola bar, and then eventually a fruit like baked apples with some cinnamon – still satisfying that sweet tooth, keeping the reward the same.
- Environment & Chemical Digestion
- This brings us to our social environment, an area where I feel we’ve all struggled with a time or two. You show up to your friends’ bridal shower (once you near 30, the bachelorette parties are over and the bridal showers take over) with the intention of not touching the treats. Willpower is high, you’re wearing your skinny jeans, with a little stretch I might add; life is good. But then that moment arrives, the lid pops off the cupcake container, their basically yelling at you – yes, the cupcakes…
- Whether at home or at a social gathering with family and friends, simply being around food can provoke the cephalic phase. The sight, smell, or thought of food paired with even the teeniest of appetites could intensify your cravings. The brain tells our stomach to prep itself for food by increasing the amount of hydrochloric acid present, which contributes to a long chain of events aiding in our digestion process. One of which is the secretion of salivary amylase, an enzyme used to digest carbohydrates in our mouth, that “mouth watering” feeling. A feeling that kicks in when we see foods we enjoy eating.
So the next time you’re feeling hungry, really think about that sensation for a moment; consider what’s fueling your appetite. Have you eaten a full, balanced meal? If not, chances are you’re probably still hungry; listen to the internal cues your body is trying to communicate to you. Are you making a choice based solely on its nutritional value or are you caught up in a fad approach? Do you eat that bowl of cereal every morning because you enjoy honey nut cheerios or because you did so as a child? There is absolutely no right or wrong way when it comes to eating, we are all unique, as are our relationships with food. I’m simply bringing to light some of the dynamics that affect our choices and we may often overlook, blaming weak willpower or pushy cupcakes instead. You know your body best; do what feels right. Feed your appetite and your soul.