Healthy Eating Habits
by Ellen O’Neil; edited by Nicholas Dormihal
When it comes to eating healthy, there are so many health benefits that will come with it. Healthy diets improve livelihood, productivity, decreased risk of heart disease, weight loss, and you would have greater self esteem. Unfortunately, some people don’t have healthy eating habits because of their food choices, or they have a disorder that makes eating habits nearly impossible to control. Social psychology can offer a solution to this problem by looking at patterns in social interactions with eating, and even offer intervention programs.
Social psychology focuses on different factors that can contribute to bad eating habits and poor health. For example, eating disorders are very common among people today, and is a serious problem to their health. Healthy people think those who suffer from eating disorders are vain, but there is much more to eating disorders. In fact, over 10 million Americans suffer symptoms of eating disorders like anorexia, starving, or bulimia, regurgitating food; even more Americans report having binge eating disorders (Novotney, 2009). These disorders have major physical and psychological effects, such as osteoporosis, gastrointestinal problems, dental problems and many other health problems, even death and higher rates of suicide. What most people don’t realize is that these eating disorders are also common in men. Muscle dysmorphia is when males are too focused on their muscularity. This often includes diet restrictions, such as carb restrictions, and protein overload to enhance their muscles. Social factors also have influenced over diet. When people watch a model, such as parents or peers, eat unhealthy foods, this leads them to eat unhealthy food as well. This can explain the rise in obesity in people aged 2-19, from 1999-2014 obesity rose 13.9%-17.2% (Obesity Rates & Trends Overview, 2017). Obviously taste, appearance, familiarity, and food history is an important factor as well. People need to understand how just by eating healthy, it can be easy, cheap, and improve your overall livelihood.
Knowing that eating healthy is good for you is only half the battle, actually making changes will improve your life. Cognitive dissonance theory says that people experience dissonance when their actions don’t match their cognitions. For people to get motivated to change their eating habits, there are three different ways to reduce the dissonance; changing behavior to match cognition is making yourself eat healthy, even if you don’t want to. They could change cognitions so that they could match their behavior by saying something like, eating healthy isn’t a high priority right now. Or say “I could work out instead” to justify the diet with a new cognition. Cognitive dissonance based intervention programs, left people feeling better about their bodies and less symptoms of eating disorders, and higher self esteem (Novotney, 2009). Eating interventions also help promote healthier processed foods, like canned vegetables, and shows people how to make healthy food that was both tasty and time efficient. These are important ways to improve mood, longevity, and personhood because these programs will help people get on a healthier eating path.
Hardcastle, S. J., Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., & Chatzisarantis, N. L. (2015, October). Food Choice and Nutrition: A Social Psychological Perspective. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632444/
Novotney, A. (2009). New solutions Psychologists are developing promising new treatments and conducting novel research to combat eating disorders. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/04/treatments.aspx
Obesity Rates & Trends Overview. (2017). Retrieved April 26, 2017, from http://stateofobesity.org/obesity-rates-trends-overview/