Food as Medicine

Why Your Eating Environment Makes a Difference

Obesity is a problem that bridges many different cultures, regions and age groups. People are simply eating more and moving less than ever before. There are more influences on obesity today, however, which makes it a difficult issue to tackle. Take a look at how your environment might influence how and what you eat each day. These factors are common across the globe.


Eliminating the Plates

How you eat a meal can dictate the volume in which you consume. Consider a party where chips and dip are present at a table. You casually munch on these items as you socialize. Inevitably, you’ll eat more than if you served yourself food on a plate.

This same concept applies to environments where you’re eating out of a bag, such as fast food or a popcorn container. Most vegetables aren’t served in this manner, which means that you’re probably eating items that are high in fat and lack nutrients.


Cultural Impacts

The European Food Information Council points out that culture is an environmental factor that will determine the types of foods being eaten. If you move from the United States and into China, you’ll probably dine on local foods instead of seeking out old standbys. In many cases, you’ll eat healthier than before since local food is typically sourced nearby with home cooks offering their skills to the public.


Economic Influences

It’s a fact that people with a low income will have limited food selections. The proper nutrients may not be found in every meal. Obesity might rise because your environment is one of survival instead of focusing on nutrition. Any food is deemed passable as you try to make ends meet.

In contrast, middle- to high-income families have more choices. Fresh and organic produce might be part of their daily lives.


The Working Household

Eating out is often expensive and full of extra calories. A household with dual, working adults will eat out more often. They won’t have the time to cook a healthy dinner at home. In the past, many families lived on a single income with one adult at home to take care of the cooking and cleaning. This environment is conducive to well-rounded meals and healthy living.


Considering the Youth

Think back to when you were in elementary school. Many children had cafeteria food as their daily lunch. Every school district is different, which means that your environment dictates the type of food seen on the plate every day. Schools with limited access to fruits and vegetables will offer proteins and grains to the students. Obesity is an immediate side effect, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine. 

Schools that prioritize produce in their meals will see fewer cases of obesity among the age groups.

When you order or cook food for the next meal, think about what made you choose those items in the first place. From eating for wellness to satisfying that nagging craving, consuming food is both a survival needs and pleasurable act. Making smart choices will improve and prolong your life.