Why We Eat What We Eat

What we eat is a very personal and very complex issue. We eat what we choose to eat, based on many factors. Just to give you an idea, here are some factors that make us eat what we eat:

A hand-drawn image of a family tree, using food like hamburgers and hot dogs instead of people
A food family tree | Photo and Sketch by Elizabeth Layman
  • What we grew up eating
  • What we learned was good to eat from our families
  • Our knowledge of good food
  • Our comfort and enjoyment from familiar family food
  • The food and cooking, the “cuisine,” of our ethnic and cultural backgrounds. For many people, this is mixed from parents on both sides of their families and from generations far back in time.
  • The influence of these early eating patterns from our family of origin and our family histories on our conscious and unconscious habits and choices
  • Our genetics, which influences our body type and our metabolism
  • Media sources, including magazines, television, movies, the Internet
A Christmas tree and a Hanukkah menorah made of McDonald's french fries
Wishing you a merry meal | Photo courtesy of McDonald’s
  • Our access to and opportunities for socializing with friends and family around eating and meals
  • Our access to shopping, including transportation to food stores
  • Our opportunities to learn and our access to information about nutrition, as well as access to trying different foods
  • Our financial resources to purchase and obtain food and our understanding of meal planning and budgeting
  • Our access to and abilities to prepare food at home, and to eat it, whether independently, or with assistance



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