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What Drives Our Food Choice?

Cultural and Social Connections to Food

Many social and cultural factors contribute to why we eat food. Enjoying traditional cultural cuisines can be a celebration of heritage (Sizer & Whitney, 2016). Sharing ethnic foods can be symbolic of shared values (Sizer & Whitney, 2016). Other than cultural connections to food, sociocultural environments also play a role. Several sociodemographic and lifestyle factors were statistically significant determinants of diet quality (Pestoni et al., 2019). One example of an environmental factor that drives my food choices is my occupation. As a truck driver, I am literally driven, toward limited options on the road. Typically, I can buy food from truck stops (much like gas stations) and Walmart. Unfortunately, both of these places have limitations when it comes to offering healthy, nutritious food options.

Factors That Lead to Food Choices

Three factors that lead to food choices are advertising, availability, and emotional comfort (Sizer & Whitney, 2016). As a trucker, I identify with these factors that lead to my personal food choices. While driving the nation’s highways, I am constantly bombarded mile by mile with advertising. I try to ignore it as much as possible, but I can not drive with my eyes closed, and I know it is persuading me and/or draining me of willpower, even on a subconscious level. My truck is 53’ long, and I am hauling up to forty thousand pounds of product. Availability plays a massive role in what I eat because I can not simply drive to the regular grocery store or farmers’ market. Additionally, I have limited room in my mini-fridge and minimal cooking equipment. Truckers can drive up to eleven hours a day and can work longer doing other occupational tasks in addition to those hours. I believe that boredom plays a significant part in why the trucking industry is unhealthy and obese. Emotional comfort and boredom are two main reasons we often overeat.

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Pestoni, G., Krieger, J. P., Sych, J. M., Faeh, D., & Rohrmann, S. (2019). Cultural Differences in Diet and Determinants of Diet Quality in Switzerland: Results from the National Nutrition Survey menuCH. Nutrients, 11(1), 126.

Sizer, F., & Whitney, E. (2017). Nutrition: Concepts and controversies (14th ed.) [E-book]. Cengage Learning.

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