Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
97: to eat or not to eat?... Instinctively, without thinking - one usually want to vote for choice, for human right to choose, choice is always wanted and valued (voting is also a choice!). Then I remember all those times when I ate in the restaurants with extremely thick menus, and those times when I ate in the restaurants with one page menu titled "Chef recommends". And I clearly know that I would choose not choosing in a heartbeat. Let's stop for a minute to consider this. We like to act of choice itself, because it provides us more freedom of choice and sense of freedom itself (1). I immediately remember how many times I have heard the legend about those days immediately after regaining independence and getting over the blockade, when queues for food disappeared and bananas were everywhere. When you could actually CHOOSE which kind of meat you will eat today. Or if it will be meat at all. Forget the legend, I saw it and lived through it myself. We like to choose because then we control the outcome (meat, not fish), and this makes us feel mighty, strong, in control (2). It is not necessary to verbalize it to others ("Yes, I can!") or to yourself, but statistically speaking, when mom hears "beep" at the cashier in the food store, she decides the choice of food for at least two other people (this statement is statistically balanced for Lithuania). That is almost god-like power. And when I say "mom", I am also relying on statistics, because mothers most often become food decision makers. Mothers use a whole array of rationalizations why their decisions are good - they manage the family budget, they take care of the health of family members and emotional atmosphere in the family, maintain family traditions, etc. (3). Traditionally we believe that people make rational decisions and always make correct choices (6), but for many years now it is being noticed that this theory is... too theoretical (7). People make decisions under influence of multiple criteria, and paradoxically - most of these decisions are not rational (8). For example, each right to choose (let's say meat or fish) brings a responsibility. How do you choose healthy, healthiest food? How do you ensure that food you choose is not boring? WIll your husband really like it? What about children? And your waistline? And your wallet? Finally, the process of choice itself requires time, attention and effort. So perhaps... we can outsource it to somebody who is expert? Popular recipe books and cooking shows? Nutrition consultants and doctors? New diet in the magazine? The research also shows this "dark side" of the choice freedom - people tend to transfer this so called "choice burden" to somebody else and experience pleasure related to that (5). When choice requires less effort, it becomes more attractive (4). Choice of food is defined by physiology, gender, age, sensory sensitivity and accuracy (including supertasters), state of overall health, food appearance, smell, texture, taste, experienced boredom, irritation, disgust with specific food, food complexity or simplicity, comparing food and eating with the eating context ("is it adequate to drink expensive champagne when you only have dry bread at home?"), serving of the food (packaging, labels, size and shape of plate), environmental factors (lighting, company, image of the restaurant), perceived risk of eating food (affecting your health, weight, image, sometimes even life), established rules and norms, attitudes, beliefs, trust in chef or producer, cultural environment (time of the year, traditions, personal identification with specific culture), perceived mindfulness and importance of a specific action, habit of eating the specific foods, adjusting to context ("I'll have the same as everyone"), using food as means for other goals ("garlic, because I am sick", "oysters because aphrodisiac"), personal traits (including food neophobia - "I never eat the food that I do not know"), memories and past experiences, finally emotional motivation and rational arguments for decision (9). Phew! It is an effort enough to read through all of it, not to mention trying to control it all. Even though this topic is really wide, and I will definitely come back to it - a short suggestion for now. Do not confuse freedom and being able to choose from ten kinds of sausage. You usually choose your food for different reasons than to demonstrate your freedom to choose. So choose to choose when it is important - because this freedom is more important than other choices. Choose something that is healthy, tasty and responsible - and definitely use your freedom to have a different opinion :) My name is Monika, I am psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, counsel and teach. Book my talk to ask more! --------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Food and Freedom: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10947/556/craw3.pdf?sequence.pdf 2. Food Choice: A Conceptual Model of the Process: http://baileynorwood.com/rcfp/files/GoodSource3.pdf 3. Factors affecting food choices of working mothers with young families: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022318212809174 4. When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?: https://faculty.washington.edu/jdb/345/345%20Articles/Iyengar%20%26%20Lepper%20(2000).pdf 5. Overchoice: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overchoice 6. The theory of decision making: https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/31144655/01_Edwards_1954.pdf 7. Allais paradox: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allais_paradox 8. CONSUMERS’ FOOD CHOICE AND QUALITY PERCEPTION: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Klaus_G_Grunert/publication/5092936_Consumers'_Food_Choice_and_Quality_Perception/links/00b7d5256e24280d1e000000.pdf 9. Diversity in the determinants of food choice: A psychological perspective: https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/35928966/Koster2009_diversity.pdf Photo: pasja1000 from Pixabay #spoonfulofreason #psychology #food #choice #decision

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Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
Question "How eating and psychology are related?" will probably remain on repeat for a long time, but I will not give up :) and I am not alone. Eating decisions are "quick decisions" (here you should think of Kahneman's quick and slow thinking), because people are busy with other things, they are constantly in a rush, and healthy nutrition information is very complex and difficult to process. Besides: 🧠 food advertising very often aims to invoke emotional response (more emotions - less rational decisions) 🧠 try some time reading food label in an easy and fun way. Not a chance. What about simple and intuitive way to understand kilocalories, body mass index, portion size? Nope. 🧠 people usually tend to choose present focused decisions (in a fight of cookie now and health later, cookie always starts and wins) 🧠 people also tend to stick to their habits and maintain status quo, and choose the same things over and over again 🧠 in presence of food, it is almost impossible to not think about food and not to want it. At the same time food is available everywhere, in especially in worst situations, like line at the cashier register (hail self-service!), on the screen or in the street cafes. Insights based on psychology and behavioral economics may help us as society he eat better. Food marketing and advertising should be strictly controlled (for example, celebrity or action hero images should not be used on the packaging), package from should display uniform food content and nutritional value information as well as warnings. Healthy alternatives should become default option (full grain pizza, unless you specifically ask for white flour). Probably portion size control should be implemented as well. Additional taxation for unhealthy foods and beverages should be implemented. ----------------------------------------------------- My name is Monika, I am psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, counsel and teach. Book my talk to as more! Article: https://peachlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Roberto_Psy-Insights_American-Psychologist-2020.pdf Photo: StockSnap from Pixabay #spoonfulofreason #psychology #food #eating #decisions #policy #behavioraleconomics
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Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
Very good timing on the topic - on Wednesday I will be giving a speech in Login 2021 conference on the very similar topic: https://login.lt/agenda/?&day=26# 92: Everything is connected: stress, eating and sleep This time I read a thesis from University of South Dakota (1). REad and kept nodding - yes, yes - you are what you eat, you will reap what you sow... Everything is connected to everything else - psychology and behavior, eating and digestion hormones, neuroscience and science of sleep. Let's get straight to the meat of it: - The more stress people feel, the more often they eat not because of hunger, but to relax - Women tend to use food for comfort more often. Also comfort food is a common relaxation method for people who work for more than 40 hours a week and people who lack sleep. - If someone meets physical activity recommendations (at least on the recommended level), they are significantly less likely to eat for comfort - The more someone believes that he or she is experiencing high levels of stress (believes, but not necessarily does experience stress) - the more likely someone is to eat uncontrollably (does not notice eating, does not stop eating when full, eats in a company, etc.) - People who sleep well, but experience high levels of stress, are still likely to eat uncontrollably - People who apply cognitive rules to their eating are more successful at maintaining their low body index as the time passes. - Physical activity, stretching workouts and yoga routines were both successful weight loss programs. But people who chose yoga, were not eating uncontrollably compared to the stretching group. So while physical activity did it's job well in both groups, yoga also helped to deal with emotional eating triggers. Let's tie it all together. Lack of sleep leads tired people to use food as compensation. Lack of physical activity leads to food as relaxation method (also when people are anxious about poor work results which may result from lack of sleep and related fatigue). When tired mind fails to find good reasons to stick to the eating plan, people eat mindlessly, eat more, work slower and work longer - instead of getting more sleep and being more productive. Everything is connected to everything else. WIshing you good night sleep, experiencing true hunger and have a good walk - instead of trying to fix just one corner of this triangle. That should do it :) My name is Monika, I am psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, counsel and teach. ------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. Relationship of Stress, Sleep, Physical Activity, and Food Insecurity on Eating Behaviors and Obesity: http://openprairie.sdstate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2879&context=etd Photo: Andrew Martin from Pixabay #spoonfulofreason #psychology #system #stress #sleep #activity #food
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Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
73: Barriers to the healthy nutrition As I am back to the city, I am also back in the flow of messages encouraging me to "let yourself go", "to treat myself", "to go for the sweet sin"... Without too much effort it is easy to see that healthy eating is seen as trouble while almost-non-food items that are also lots-of-pleasure products are shown as a guaranteed benefit. Almost like cocaine, but it is not popular to be advertised and definitely not legal to be distributed. How have we come to this - things that are good are difficult, and not a pleasure? I have looked at some qualitative research hoping to find what are the reasons as told by the people themselves. Men in United Kingdom say they avoid to choose healthy food because they have a cynical attitude towards government's messages on healthy eating, besides, healthy food does not taste well and is not satisfying. Authors believe this is related to the need of men to be independent and strong (which may mean they do not agree with government and to avoid deprivation (1) Australian children and their parents state that the primary barrier to the healthy nutrition is contradicting messages sent to the children - what advertising says and what parents say are two different things, you need to void fats, and fats are necessary, salt is both harmful and beneficial, TV has both useful and harmful shows (2) Adolescents in Ireland say that they do not choose healthy food, because they do not get the expected physical and psychological reward when eating healthy food, (mis)understanding of what is food and what is healthy eating, contradicting social pressures regarding food, and basic misunderstanding of what healthy nutrition is. Interestingly enough, healthy eating concept is masked behind pressure to eat unhealthy food and pressure to be thinner (3) UK adolescents say that they do not choose healthy food because of poor food quality in the school, also very accessible, relatively cheap and personally more tasty fast food. Supporting factors are family support, accessible healthy food, wish to care about the body image and a power of will (4) Speaking about the healthy elementary school children nutrition, their parents say that among barriers they see food provided in school, opinion of the peers (some foods are not "cool"), poor example shown by brothers and sisters, also parents and grandparents that are not living together. Parents did not see their own example as important. Parents believe that children have unchangeable tastes which shape the diet of their children. Finally, parents believe (researchers say - incorrectly) that healthy food must be prepared at home, fresh, organic, and because of all that - hardly accessible (5) Older British men say that they do not follow healthy diet because they lack skills to cook and they lack wish to change their life habits (6) There are many more research papers. But conclusion for me is quite sad. We are used to cook and eat in certain way, and unhealthy one, we have a habit of thinking that we must get the food quickly, and that time spent on cooking is time wasted (even if we are learning to cook healthy food - this is still considered the waste). We simply ignore any long term healthy eating consequences and keep luring ourselves with an instant pleasure, even if we will blame ourselves afterwards, daily. What is your reason to "treat yourself" with unhealthy food? ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Barriers to healthy eating amongst men: A qualitative analysis: http://www.660607.co.za/.../Course.../Mens%20eating.pdf 2. Healthy eating, activity and obesity prevention: a qualitative study of parent and child perceptions in Australia: https://academic.oup.com/.../Healthy-eating-activity-and... 3. Adolescents' views of food and eating: Identifying barriers to healthy eating: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/bitstream/2438/6577/2/Fulltext.pdf? 4. Young people and healthy eating: a systematic review of research on barriers and facilitators: https://academic.oup.com/her/article/21/2/239/671343 5. Promoting healthy diet and exercise patterns amongst primary school children: a qualitative investigation of parental perspectives: http://s3.amazonaws.com/.../Promoting_healthy_diet_and... 6. Old and alone: barriers to healthy eating in older men living on their own: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/.../HughesBennettetal2004.pdf Photo: andreas160578 from Pixabay My name is Monika, I am psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, counsel and teach. #spoonfulofreason #psychology #food #barriers #nutrition #eating
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