by Dr. David Juan
When you wake up, it’s time for some cereal, eggs, and bacon. If you have a headache, take a couple of pills and work through the pain. When Saturday night rolls around, meet up with friends, have a couple of drinks and maybe stay out late, followed by a “lazy Sunday” in front of the television set. Repeat.
These are the cultural norms most people live by, and can reflect most of the daily decisions people make. When it comes to what, when, and how to do something, there are expectations you and those around you have come to accept.
But how are those expectations working for you? Do you feel good, healthy, and successful or are you feeling powerless or trapped? Sometimes the best way to improve your health naturally is to step out of the box and abandon some of the norms that have permeated American culture.
For example, when it comes to meals and snacks, there are expectations about what and when a person should eat. It’s expected you should eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at set times along with some afternoon snacks. Any more than that and people might judge you. If you’re sitting at your desk at work at 10 a.m. Eating a chicken salad, then eating a tuna sandwich at noon, people might look at you funny. They might even be more judgmental if they see you eating an energy or protein bar around 3:30 p.m., wondering why you eat so much.
But there is some indication that eating small meals or snacks when hungry, as opposed to gorging when starving, is an efficient way to get calories, avoid binging, and keeping our metabolism rolling. For some, this could involve eating every two to three hours, while others can wait five hours or more. It really depends on your individual needs and energy expenditure.
People who want to get healthy often have a difficult time doing so because they are afraid to abandon the cultural expectations of their friends and family. It’s hard to turn down the big family feast, not talk about the television shows everybody watches, or live a healthy life when others around you aren’t making the effort.
Cultural influences impact on diet choices and food preparation – evidence has shown that traditions, beliefs and values are among the main factors influencing preference, mode of food preparation, and nutritional status. Cultural habits,
however, have been shown to change, for example, when individuals move to a new country and adopt the food habits of the local culture.
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