01 Apr The Psychology of Food Choice – A Personal Journey
Food is confusing. The amount of information being spread in books, lectures, television programmes, magazines and other forms of media is enormous. Different diets, different cooking methods, and many very strong opinions.
Why is the food industry a huge industry.
Food is one of the essentials that all people need. We need air, water and food as bare essentials for survival. Perhaps it is the necessity for food that has resulted in the food industry being enormous. After all if there is a demand then there needs to be a supply. The supply can come in the form of the food itself, and especially in opinion and advice regarding food and eating habits.
I will confess that for many years of my life I paid very little attention to food choices. I wasn’t aware of any ill effects due to my lack of attention to food choice. I was lean, fit and seemingly healthy. (I must mention that I do not have food intolerances or allergies. If I did, then my experience would be much different. With respect to those that do have intolerances or allergies, I empathise with you and do not mean to belittle any eating plan that you are following. The article is purely based on my own experience)
Then came a bombshell as I was diagnosed with a life threatening condition, which led me to reflect on my life and in particular my food choices.
Now 5 years on from my own health crisis, I definitely pay more attention to my eating and food choices. But in the 5 years since the crisis I have had varying stages of following different fads and trends. From Paleo, to 5:2 to sugar free I have had phases dipping my toes into each.
Why didn’t I stick with any of them?
- Was it because I didn’t notice any difference?
- No, because I felt great physically doing the 5:2. And I felt physically great following a strict paleo regime.
The reason I didn’t stick with any of them is because I am not an obsessive personality type that imposes strict confines upon myself. For instance whilst I felt good physically during the 5:2 phase, I felt more anxiety in the evening before a fasting day. Upon reflection was feeling good physically worth feeling worse emotionally? The fact was that my whole day of social interactions and family time was being influenced by my regime. Was this good for my health? I do not have the answer. I do not know what effect those periods of following strict dietary protocols had on my traditionally tested health bio-markers such as blood tests, blood pressure at the time. The one thing I do know is that I had some resentment and stress around following a strict regime, so I would judge that I was actually less healthy psychologically.
Nowadays, I am so much more aware of what I choose to eat and what is real food as opposed to processed ingredients purporting to be food. But I eat some unhealthy things from time to time, it is just that for the majority of time I choose real food that is unprocessed. It is so much better for me emotionally to not feel pressure to follow a strict regime.
This is part of my wellness journey, and unique to me. I strongly believe that we all have our own wellness journey that we are living. The more attuned you are to your needs, emotionally, physically, and socially then the better decisions you will make.
My take home advice is that your health is a balance of the physical, the chemical and the emotional and so long as your decisions around food nurture all these aspects then you are on the right path from a wholistic perspective.
Yours in wellness
Dr Michael Bloom