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Eating Habits

Eating Habits

Eating habits are dietary behaviours that people have acquired through exposure and frequent repetition and have become nearly or completely involuntary.

The term “Eating Habits (Food Habits)” refers to; why and how people eat, which foods they eat, and with whom they eat, as well as the ways people obtain, store, use, and discard food which are all influenced by individual, social, cultural, religious, economic, environmental, and political factors.

The ultimate reason why people eat is to survive. However, some people eat to express appreciation, for a sense of belonging, as part of family customs or for self-realization.

For example, someone who is not hungry may eat or drink with pears to feel he or she belongs to the group or a person may want to take some form of beverages to imply a sense of wellbeing.

Some people eat according to childhood exposure to food, cultural or religious beliefs and learned dietary behaviors regarding nutrition and etiquette. Some people make food choices-based on affordability of the food, the availability of the food within their locality, or the endorsement of the food by the appropriate body.

People obtain the foods they eat through growing, hunting, fishing or buying from various sources and store in refrigerators, freezers and pantries or by digging and burying them under ground.
While some people discard foods by throwing them into the garbage, others give them out to their dogs or to the needy.

The commonest eating pattern is three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) per day, with snacks between meals.

Good Eating Habits

Good eating habits are eating or dietary behaviours that maintain or restore one’s physical and mental health and prevent diseases. Examples are eating a variety of nutrient – rich foods, enjoying a lot of whole grains, eating moderate portions of food, eating regular meals and reducing the consumption of certain foods.

  1. Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
  2. The nutrients you need from food to maintain good health cannot all be supplied by one particular type of food. Your daily food choices should include whole-grain products; fruits; vegetables; dairy products; and protein foods. How much you should eat depends on your calorie needs. Contact your dieticians.

  3. Enjoying plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  4. You need to eat 6-11 servings from the bread, rice, cereal and pasta group, 3 of which should be whole grains, 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables.

  5. Eating moderate portions.
  6. You can eat the foods you want and stay healthy if you keep portion sizes reasonable. Refer to the Food Guide Pyramid for information on the recommended serving sizes.

  7. Eating regular meals.
  8. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating. Eat regular meals and snacks between meals, but don't eat so much that your snack becomes an entire meal.

  9. Reducing the consumption of certain foods.
  10. If your favorite foods are high in fat, salt or sugar, the watchword is moderation. How much of these foods you eat and how often you eat them is important. Try to make some changes to your diet by substituting the high in fat, salt or sugar foods with healthy choices. Choose skim or low-fat dairy products and lean meat such as flank steak and beef round. Bake, roast or grill instead of frying if possible.

Bad Eating Habits

Bad eating habits are eating or dietary behaviours that are detrimental to one’s physical and mental health. Few examples are skipping meals, eating on the run, eating large portions, using food to relieve stress and late night eating.

  1. Skipping Meals
  2. When you don’t eat regularly, your hunger increases and you may compensate for this by eating larger meals later in the day or by excessive snacking. Be sure to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

  3. Eating on the Run
  4. The challenge with eating on the run is that you don’t have a chance to pay close attention to what you’re eating. It is easier to eat more because your mind is on other things and not on how much you’re eating. You are likely to be consuming more fat and excessive calories without the necessary nutrition.

  5. Eating Large Portions
  6. Eating more food than the body needs means over loading the body and straining all organs. Be conscious of what you eat, plan ahead of time and ensure you add enough fruits and vegetables.

  7. Using Food to Relieve Stress
  8. Many people eat large balls of kenkey or fufu and drink alcohol to relieve stress after a long and difficult day at work or a weekend exercise programme. Using food in this way, however, leads to greater weight gain. When stressed out, find ways to relax yourself that don’t involve food. Spend time admiring nature, or talking with friends, meditating or exercising.

  9. Late Night Eating
  10. Night time eating often consists of snacking and excessive calorie consumption. This may be due to boredom or being distracted by sedentary activities such as watching television or surfing the web. To avoid eating late at night, find interesting things to do that take away the boredom. Possible options include a fun hobby, an interesting book, meditation, an exercise DVD or a conversation with a good friend.

To improve your eating Habits

  1. Know your diet pitfalls.
  2. To improve your eating habits, you first have to know what's wrong with them. Write down everything you eat for a week.

  3. Make gradual changes
  4. Changing too much, too fast can get in the way of success. Begin to remedy excesses or deficiencies with modest changes that can add up to positive, lifelong eating habits. With time you will get there.

    NB: Healthy eating habits are essential for long life and avoidance from diseases such as hyperacidity, ulcer, obesity, blood sugar problems and some cancers. Eating habits are learned, and can be unlearned over time.

    Written By:

    Mrs. Salome Annoh

    National Healthy Lifestyle Advocate