What influences our lifestyle choices?

April 29, 2015
healthy lifestyle

One aspect of being a Registered Dietitian is that I am required to attend workshops, seminars, and webinars for continuing education credits. Yesterday, I attended an online webinar about what influences lifestyle choices and how can we change them? I found the session very insightful mostly because it considers what a healthy lifestyle is and what motivates people to make changes. The presenter talked about happiness, resilience, genetics, and food communities to illustrate how we make certain decisions about our diet. I thought today I would share some of the information I learned.

First, I want to ask you: what do you think is a healthy lifestyle?

You might think diet and exercise. And, I absolutely agree, and what first came to my mind are diet, exercise, sleep, friends, environment, and work. The instructor discussed this in great length and revealed that it is all those things and more. It is also the way we dress, the types of vacations we take, the make and model of your car, music, books, sport teams, values, attitudes and much more. Your healthy lifestyle is based on an aggregate of decision that affects your overall health. So remember the next time you hear about a healthy lifestyle, it’s not just about diet and exercise. It is about everything that you do. The people you hang out with, how much sleep you get, the amount of stress in your life, etc. This idea shines a different light on the word “healthy”, and there are lots of decisions and choices you can make to create a healthier lifestyle.

In addition to focusing on people’s lifestyle our instructor moved on to discuss how food is a form of communication and that people identify with diet communities. This is the idea that you are what you eat, and that parts of our behavior can be associated with a food community. We can see this in our society today with certain food trends and fads.

Pro Con
Ancient Grains Wheat
Organic GMO
Raw Food Processed Food
Stevia Sugar
Paleo Gluten
Fasting Fast Food
Cleansing Tap Water

We identify in certain food communities and within each community there are other factors that tend to influence our food choices like time, age, gender, cooking skills, eating out, food labels, peer pressure, media, income, skill, availability, and price. All in all this information tells us there are lots of reasons why we choose certain foods. Even if we are intellectually aware and educated about certain aspects of nutrition we are still inclined to make other decisions because of our lifestyle, our food community and other factors. Clearly making changes is difficult, there are many influences and some may make certain decisions more difficult. It is important to recognize these challenges and accept that change is difficult. We also know that change takes time but with the right motivation change is achievable.

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