Caught in a food rut? Your food attitude may be the culprit! An important aspect of health begins with a positive food attitude.
What are Food Attitudes
An attitude is a feeling or a belief about something that drives your behavior. When we talk about food attitudes, we are talking about your beliefs about food and how that affects your behavior.
At one end, some people are consumed with thoughts of food. They are a little too focused on food, and they let that focus affect them to the degree that they overeat, or suffer from some type of eating disorder or other health issue. These people see food differently, often from an emotional perspective.
The opposite end is that you are focusing on food in a directional manner. The food guides you to better health. In this situation, you search for healthy food. You are of the attitude that food helps you to become healthy. Food helps you to do the things in life that you need to with your career, family, and other activities. You allow food to assist you in that process. Subsequently, you are willing to make the time to learn about and obtain healthy food.
Why are Food Attitudes Important
Food attitudes are important because they drive your behavior. They determine what food you purchase and from where, how you prepare and cook your food, how you interact with the food, with whom you eat, where you eat, and how and what you teach others about food. These behavioral decisions affect your food experiences and your future choices about food, nutrition, and overall health.
How are Food Attitudes Formed
We eat to survive throughout our lives. Food is fuel for the body and mind. The attitudes we form are a reflection of our background experiences with food. From our first experience with food, we change over time in our childhood and adult years. What we do with regard to food during those years helps to form our food attitudes. Your food attitudes form based on your eating experiences, including:
· What foods you eat or are offered
· The environment in which you eat
· The people with whom you eat (and their food attitudes)
· The interaction you have with food
Your Food Attitude Depends on You
Ultimately you decide what your food attitude is. You have many different influences that shape your attitudes. As a child, for example, you rely on your parents or other caregivers for your food, so you do not really have control over what you are given. As you get older, you can experience different foods.
But as an adult, you may often have different responsibilities with work, school, family, and activities. You may or may not carve out time for learning and health. What you can control at any point in your life is your attitude or belief about food.
For example, many times we have the belief that whatever is in our midst is all that is available. That is true to an extent, but that is not ALL that is available. There is more knowledge to be acquired. That is not the entire product.
As another example, if you believe that eating a healthy diet will help avoid (or at least minimize) health problems, you will likely act accordingly. The opposite is also true. If you believe that nothing you do matters, your behavior will be a lot different than if you believe you can influence your situation.
Your Own Food Attitudes
Think about your own food attitudes.
· How do you feel about food?
· Is it just something that you do to make it through the next event?
· Do you see food as something that will benefit you?
· Do you see it as something about which you can learn?
· What food options are available?
· Do you have the drive, stamina, willingness, and ambition to take a proactive role in your food availability, knowledge, and consumption?
· Do you have the strength to be honest in the assessment of your food attitude?
Food Attitudes Change Over Time
Food attitude is not a constant – a “once and done” situation. Instead, it changes over time through our experiences. For example, perhaps a family is open to serving a variety of different foods. They talk to each other about the importance of those foods. They help each other obtain grocery items at the store. Family members look up information about different foods and cooking skills. The parents teach the children how to cook. As a result, the children may be more open to trying new things and understanding information about nutrition and cooking, and being willing to learn.
As another example, perhaps children are given a frozen TV dinner and are told to hurry up and eat as they go from one activity to another. The food is pretty basic and unchanging. In that situation, they may not develop a deeper knowledge about food, nutrition, and cooking. Their attitudes about food and willingness to try new things may be limited.
Most people fall in between these two extremes. They are constantly working to perfect their skills and move toward the spectrum of change and learning, and away from the processed boxed meals and the silent treatment at mealtime.
Positive Food Experiences Begin with Positive Food Attitudes
How can you be open to new positive food attitudes, or refine existing food attitudes? You can take opportunities to learn about different foods and the health benefits thereof. There are so many different foods out there, of course, that it is impossible to learn about them all. But you can start one food at a time.
For example, even just introducing avocados into your diet, and finding out what the health benefits are, and discovering different recipes. Or perhaps you can learn about the benefits of quinoa as a complete protein, and find some great recipes to incorporate into your diet. Learning little bits at a time, and integrating that information into your eating regimen will help expand your horizons and can lead to better health.
Sometimes developing positive food attitudes involves unlearning old habits. Perhaps you have avoided a certain food due to a misconception about it, for example. As you learn new information, it’s important to be willing to move forward and form new habits to help your health and well-being. As you learn about different foods, share that information with others. Make a recipe together or make a recipe to share with a crowd. These techniques help you develop the desire to create memorable experiences with food.
3 Ways to Improve Your Food Attitude
No matter what phase of life you are in, you can develop a positive food attitude. Here are 3 ways to start:
1. Have a willingness to learn
Regardless of your background or current circumstances with regard to food, you can take on a new attitude. Try new things. Investigate different types of foods. Develop new cooking skills or enhance your existing ones.
Be the one to get excited about new food information. Don’t shut out information or think that you are beyond a point of learning. Learning happens every day in every phase of your life. As you are open to learning, you may be surprised at how much appreciation and respect you develop for food and how it helps you.
Be willing to learn and try different cooking skills. Even if you have never cooked before, you can start small. For example, there are many recipes that claim you can have dinner ready in 30 minutes or less. There are one pot wonders, such as Crockpots and Instant Pot pressure cookers.
Even if all you have is a small saucepan, you can start by learning something new and trying a new technique. You can learn knife skills and learn the different cuts of meats and vegetables. You can learn how to make different sauces. Start with something simple that builds your confidence and then work beyond that.
You don’t necessarily need to take a formal cooking class to develop your skills. Many cooking recipes and techniques can be found on the web for free. Making time for building those skills helps to build your confidence, your nutrition, and your knowledge base about different foods. It helps to increase your interaction with those foods.
As you do so, you can set small goals for yourself and work your way up. If you are already at an advanced cooking level, and want to kick it up a notch, take a formal cooking class, or learn from a mentor.
The important thing is to open your heart, expand your mind, and be willing to help yourself and those around you.
2. Surround yourself with positive people
As in any endeavor, it is important to surround yourself with like-minded people. You can surround yourself with people interested in cooking and trying new foods. Learn from each other. Experiment with different foods.
If your current circumstances do not include positive people with regard to food – whether they be young children, picky eaters, busy people, those who have had bad experiences with food, or all of the above – YOU can be the one to turn that attitude around. Your attitude is a choice. You can choose to be the motivator, the initiator, and the learner. Be the experimenter. Offer encouragement.
3. Start where you are
Whatever your current circumstances are, start right there. Decide today to have a positive attitude about your situation. Commit yourself to turning that situation around if it is not quite the way you anticipated or to your liking. Set small goals for yourself. Try a new recipe each week. Spend some time learning a new culinary skill.
Build food understanding with those around you. Ask them about their food attitudes and why they feel about it the way they do. Depending on their ages, not all of them may be able to articulate as clearly as you might. But in their own way, they can communicate their feelings to you. Work together with them to develop their food attitudes.
Bit by bit. Bite by bite. Your food attitude can go from apprehension, fear, or frustration to excitement, anticipation, and success.
Attitude is a choice. Success is a choice. Positive food attitudes equal success in and out of the kitchen.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: How do your current food attitudes influence your food choices?