Factors that Dictate Preferences in Food Choices

The kind of food one decides to eat or is comfortable eating is often based on physiological aspects. For example, the body determines the kind of foods we prefer to eat.

Hunger and satiety:

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For surviving, energy is required. Humans obtain this energy from nutrients in their diets. The body can determine when it requires food and when its need is fulfilled. This feeling is called the hunger-satiety system and is controlled by the central nervous system. Macronutrients in our foods, such as carbohydrates, and fats, generate signals when consumed that impart a sense of satiety to the body. This signal strength may vary depending on the extent of energy these foods provide.


Pleasure determines the palatability that one feels when one eats a particular food. This sense of pleasure is imparted by the combined stimulation of our sensory functions such as the taste, smell, and texture of the food. Therefore, the more palatable a food is it is said to be more appetizing as a person will prefer to eat them instead of something that has an unnatural texture or a bad taste or smell.

Social Factors that Dictate Preferences in Food Choices
Social factors that dictate preferences in food choices are:

Social class: studies have repeatedly shown that social classes vary in terms of the kind of food. The poorer classes often choose a diet (for reasons like lack of money) that lacks essential nutrients and thus suffers from undernutrition.

Cultural aspect: certain cultural groups may prefer or not prefer to consume a particular food. Every distinct culture has its traditional ways of food preparation and consumption. Growing up within the culture can influence a person’s choice of food preference.

Social setting: people eat most of their food at their homes, which a family member prepares. However, community eating is commonplace worldwide, where people eat in the presence of a broader social group. This can be at schools, family functions, or restaurants. The kind of food people in that social setting consume or the kind of food available determines what one will eat, among others.

Psychological Factors that Dictate Preferences in Food Choices
Besides physiological aspects, mental factors can also influence what, when, or how a person eats. Some psychological factors that determine food choices are:

Stress and anxiety: Due to the rigorous nature of modern-day life, stress is a common factor that occurs in most people. Stress can influence food intake in many ways, and it differs based on the person and the circumstances. Due to stress, an individual may eat more or less and choose to eat less nutritional foods (junk food). Stress can cause severe loss of appetite or overeating that can result in problems like cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

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