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Healthy Eating: Influences on Eating Behavior - Topic Overview

Being aware of the factors that influence what and how much you eat can help you make informed eating choices.

Food is everywhere. For most people, it is easy to find something to eat, especially unhealthy options.

Routines. Plan to eat, and make family meals routine. Children benefit from the social skills, plus everyone gets a balanced meal.

Marketing. Unhealthy foods can look fun, easy, and tasty with colorful marketing packages and free toys. Frozen, instant, microwavable, prepackaged—these foods aren't usually fruits and vegetables. And they often have a lot of either salt, sugar, or fat—and sometimes all three!

Cultural and social meanings. Some foods are comforting and familiar, even if they are not nutritious and healthy. Religious, political, or social beliefs help us make food choices for ourselves and our families.

Family and living situations. Other people may shop and prepare the food we eat. This is especially true for children and their eating habits.

Emotions.Depression, anxiety, boredom, and stress can lead to unhealthy eating.

Knowledge of nutrition. Basic nutrition doesn't have to be complicated. Don't get confused when a new study in the news conflicts with everything you know. Look at the big picture. More research might need to be done before it becomes fact.

Timing. It isn't so much the time of day that matters but what and how much you eat when you do. The longer you wait between eating, the more you tend to eat at your next meal or snack. For example, if you eat an early dinner, you may be hungry before bedtime. Consider eating just 1 hour later, or don't eat dessert.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 25, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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