Human Eating Behaviour

Expectancy theory explains how decisions may be made in different situations and can be applied to eating behaviour. The evaluation of any situation or object comprises of two factors: The perceived likelihood that the object has certain attributes or may lead to certain outcomes. The value attached has these outcomes (positive or negative). Each attribute/outcome will affect your evaluation of what to eat (e.g. an attribute may be home made/bought or high/low calories). If this theory is true then when we are given a choice between two foods, we should choose the one with the most desirable attributes or outcomes (Conner & Armitage, 2002).

Cultural Influences; Parent Influence – Parents, usually the mother, provide food for the child. Therefore, it is obvious that the mother’s attitude to food will affect the child’s preferences. As expected, there is a significant correlation between the diets of mothers and children (Ogden, 2007) This can be explained through SLT. Parents, especially the mother, provide the key role models for the child. A common technique, used by many parents and based on operant conditioning, rewards consumption of a disliked food with a desired food- ‘you can have some ice cream if you eat your dinner’

Religion – Some forbid the eating of certain foods, or food has to be prepared in a particular way E.g. In Judaism, dairy and fish are carefully controlled and the eating of both together is forbidden. Although some non-religious families have religious family traditions e.g. in Christianity – fish dish on Fridays. Therefore some traditions are more down to families passing them on than religion.

Body shape & size – Eating or not eating certain types of food is one way in which people seek to change their body shape/size so that it conforms to social ideals. In Western societies, thinness in women has been increasingly portrayed as the ideal & studies indicate that over half of the 20th century women have become increasingly dissatisfied with their body image (Feingold & Marzella, 1998). Fabulous magazine – 82% of women worry about their appearance. In other societies such as tribes – larger women are seen as the ideal as it shows their wealth. This links with the evolutionary theory that suggests curvy women (large hips) were attractive as good for reproduction.

Health Concerns; Research shows that restricting some foods is a way of managing chronic health concerns e.g. celiac Some foods make you ill e.g. Allergies. What you eat makes you more or less likely to develop certain diseases. Healthy eating in children – modelling using admired peers can increase consumption of fruit and vegetables (Low, Dowey & Horne, 1998). When children asked about beliefs and eating behaviour (made food journey over a week) their fruit/veg consumption increased (Gratton et al, 2007) – Social desirability. Predisposed to choose high energy foods, so puts fruit/veg at disadvantage (Steptoe and Wardle, 2004) Low self-esteem is linked to impulse buying and snacking (Verplanken et al, 2005)

Mood & Stress; Carbohydrates can improve mood. Participants were found to choose carbohydrate drinks over others to make them feel better/happier (Corsica and Spring, 2008). Stressed emotional eaters consume more sweet, high fat foods than others (Oliver et al, 2000) / Women score more highly on emotional eating than men Success and failure of dieting Ogden (2007) “Dieting offers a small chance of weight loss and a high chance of both negative physical and psychological consequences” Physiological reasons for the failure of dieting; Boundary Model means that hunger pains keep food intake above a min level and satiety keeps food intake below a max level (Herman and Polivy, 1984). Your body has evolved to cope with chronic food shortages by lowering your metabolism and protecting fat stores in terms of starvation- extreme dieting triggers this response. When people return to normal eating they end up with more excess calories than before, which are then converted to fat.

Psychological reasons for the failure of dieting; There is a lot of evidence to suggest that restrained eting can lead to overeating. Herman et al (2005) suggest three factors why this may be the case: Distress triggers overeating in restrained eaters (people who diet). Cravings – Dieters are more likely to suffer- this may be the cause of their diet or the result of it. Restrained eaters often have a cognitive boundary for food intake. If they exceed this boundary (called pre-load) eating is disinhibited, ‘Oh what the heck’ response.

Evolutionary Explanations, for one eating disorder: Anorexia Nervosa. Evolutionary explanations of anorexia nervosa: Pseudopathology (Crawford, 1998) · A pseudopathology is an illness brought about by an entirely intact adaptive mechanism responding in a modern environment it was not designed for. …

At this day and age, dinner or supper may no longer be considered as the last meal of the day. Nowadays, individuals are so used to consuming midnight snacks that the same is now referred to as their last food …

A hormone secreted from the stomach and the amount released is proportional to stomach emptiness Cummings found that injections of ghrelin increase food intake and body weight in animals & humans. Gastric bands reduce ghrelin secretion in the stomach. Signals stopping the …

This is a research paper about the importance of healthy eating. It is true that healthy foods can improve all the aspects of ones life, hence the importance of introducing a course in nutrition for all college students. It is …

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