America has an unfortunate reputation as the world's fattest nation. It's not because everyone has an aversion to low calorie meals. Scientists have put forward a number of theories in the past, including blaming McDonald's, the government, and schools. One area few people rarely explore is how society influences our eating habits.
The fact we decided not to have a low calorie dinner doesn't necessarily fall at the feet of the 24-hour McDonald's. Here are a few ways in which society has influenced our eating habits.
Taste Over All
Cooking shows have taught us one thing. We have to have taste or it's not worth eating. Sadly, many of the ingredients in your average low calorie lunch doesn't have as much flavor as many of the unhealthy high calorie foods we throw down our necks on a consistent basis.
This principle applies to older people even more. Studies have shown our taste buds become less receptive to flavour as we grow older. To get the same taste of salt at an older age, we would need to eat at least eight-times as much as we normally would. It's these extra calories which lead to obesity starting from middle age.
It's impossible to have a low calorie lunch, even if our original goal was to ease up on the calorie intake. It's because of the feeling we want to get value for our money. Eating out at a restaurant often has â€˜special' overtones. We don't do it regularly and we want to feel good about it.
Rather than eating a small portion, we want to prolong the experience and so we eat more and more.
Another reason is because we're eating with people. Whilst it offers a powerful psychological boost on a social level, these low calorie meals soon become high calorie meals because we aren't concentrating on what and how much we're eating.
What about Low Calorie Dinner for Breakfast?
Scientists have discovered how food tastes differently depending on what time of day we eat it at. If we eat a carrot at dinner it tastes exactly how we would expect it to. Eat it in the morning and everything changes.
Why is this?
Honestly, nobody is too sure. The taste buds seem to respond differently. The most popular theory is because we naturally associate certain foods with certain times of day. We equate bacon and eggs with breakfast so we won't eat vegetables with our breakfast, even if nutritionally it makes sense.
If we eat with fat friends or have an over weight waitress serving us at dinner, it has a strange effect on our minds. Our brains see it as a type of permission slip. Since everyone around us is fat, surely it means it's ok to overeat and purchase the unhealthiest dishes on the menu?
We as humans are social creatures. Our societies throughout history have shunned outsiders and embraced community. It's only in the last few years this has started to change slightly.
If we see someone else doing something we'll do it. Monkey see monkey do, right?
What Can You Do?
There's no easy way to break these influences over us. We have to simply rebel and deal with the weird glances and awkward questions for a few weeks. If you can become more independent and concentrate on what you know works, you won't fall foul of any of these factors.