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What Influences Your Dietary Choices?

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Featured Media Resource: VIDEO: Healthy Eating Tips: Do We Control Our Food Choices? (Rutgers Today)
“Food framing” is a strategy of food vendors to attract consumers to specific food choices.

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What influences your dietary choices?  #DoNowUDiet

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How do we choose what to eat? You’ve probably heard that you need to eat a balanced diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but what exactly does that entail? Americans are bombarded with many food choices every day, from mainstream fast food restaurants, to endless aisles of food in grocery stores, to infomercials hawking the next weight loss program. It’s no surprise that there is confusion about what exactly is “healthy.” Though we have access to nutritional food labels and other health information, what should the average American be looking for when it comes to food?

[media-credit standalone=0 name="Flickr/brian" link="https://www.flickr.com/photos/brianpdx/7315275760/" align="alignright" width="400"]Which would you choose?[/media-credit]
Which would you choose?

As recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture, we should be diversifying our plates with color and nutrition. One option for deciding how to eat healthy is to think of your stomach as a party! Instead of analyzing nutritional labels and meticulously counting calories, you could strive to create the perfect party atmosphere in your stomach. For example, when planning a party, a diverse array of guests will be needed to ensure happy co-mingling. Therefore, you may want to invite that one person who’s always the life of the party (fattening foods), but you probably don’t want too many of these party friends in attendance, yearning for the spotlight. It would be better to complement your party friends with more introverted wallflowers (fruits and vegetables) who stabilize the party atmosphere. This will avoid your party turning into a “rager,” and eventually disturbing your neighbors (or your body)!


Many other options for “healthy” diets are presented to us through books, articles and advertisements. The fast-paced American lifestyle lends itself to quick-fix diets that will give the best results in terms of weight loss and overall appearance. An entire industry exists to promote diets that are low-carb, gluten-free or aim to return us to our caveman roots.  While some argue that these diets restrict certain food groups and decrease good nutrition overall, others point to  cases where individuals have been able to regain control over their weight and their health by using these dietary plans.

Everyone has a different definition of a good party. The body works in a similar manner, in which your own body has its own nutritional preferences and needs. It is important to take your activity level, current health status, lifestyle tendencies, and budget into account when deciding what is the perfectly balanced, nutritious meal for you.

What influences your dietary choices? Where do you get information about what you should eat?

More Resources

Article: Medical News Today
What is Healthy Eating? What is a Healthy Diet?
This article discusses the types and amounts of food that constitute a healthy diet, and lists the World Health Organization’s recommendations and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Eating Index.

Audio: NPR
Eating Healthy: Whose Choice Should It Be?
Find out why we’re often not aware of the food choices we are making.

Article: The Atlantic
Science Compared Every Diet, and the Winner is Real Food
This article addresses Dr. David Katz’s study of different types of diets – including natural and processed foods – and how they affect the human body.

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This post was written by Sarah Abney, Ghazal Ahmad, Abby Boyd, Josh Funderburke, Thomas Norton, Erin Oliver, Kiara Smith and Payton Usher, students at Mercer University.

KQED Do Now U is a bi-weekly activity in collaboration with SENCER. SENCER is a community of transformation that consists of educators and administrators in the higher and informal education sectors. SENCER aims to create an intelligent, educated, and empowered citizenry through advancing knowledge in the STEM fields and beyond. SENCER courses show students the direct connections between subject content and the real world issues they care about, and invite students to use these connections to solve today’s most pressing problems.

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