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Don't let your tastes dictate your health

By Lazarus Lynch
On December 6, 2012


Food choices are innately personal. From the time we are born, we learn what it means to choose
what we want to eat.
Babies have the incredible power to immediately accept or reject any food put into their mouths
by simply swallowing it or spitting it out. As a result of our early encounters with food, each of
us grows up with different beliefs of what food is for and on what basis we are to consume it.
We eat for all different kinds of reasons. We eat for survival, we eat for pleasure and we eat
when we're bored.
And we eat everywhere: at work, on transit, at the movies, and on the airplane.
There are many reasons people eat the way they do. They include cultural influences, ethnic
background, peer pressure and socioeconomic status.
As a result of so many choices, we eat anything available at the expense of our health.
As I study, I become more interested in learning about what motivates this generation's eating
habits. I can totally understand the challenge people face today when they're encouraged to
change the way they eat to avoid, say, cancer.
A Buffalo State Student once told me, "I feel like everything that I eat will one day lead to
cancer...everything seems to be bad for you."
Making a change in your eating habits requires you to ask yourself a lot of questions about why
you eat the way you do. For most, this is a stressful process.
However, if we are to change the way we eat, we must begin with first understanding what
behaviors need to be changed and why.
Create motivating eating goals.
Before you can begin to change the way you eat, you need to identify what you are changing and
why you are committing to this change. If your goal is to lose 5 pounds by the end of December,
don't deprive yourself of sugar all week. You don't have to.
You should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables to keep yourself filled, but you can have a half-
cup of gelato mixed with a quarter cup of fresh berries if you get a sweet tooth craving. Or, give
yourself the opportunity to indulge in small portions of your favorite pizza once a week, rather
than every day of the week.
Replace foods.
Changing the way we eat is not about giving up what you like to eat. It's about replacing those
foods with foods that are more health substantive.
For example, instead of having deep fried chicken, have oven-baked chicken breast. It's lower in
fat, calories and cholesterol.
Be honest.
Often, we find ourselves tempted to conform to the cultural norms of society and familiar
Ask yourself: "Do I really want that cupcake or donut, or do I want it because my friend wants or
has it?"
Locate where the desire is coming from. Then, you can more accurately assess if you really want
it or not.
Are you eating out of stress, boredom, or any other reason than being hungry? Or are you eating
because of media influences or sale prices?
Changing the way we eat has to do with committing to overall lifestyle changes. If we are to
change the way we eat, we must begin first with changing our thinking.
Lazarus Lynch can be reached by email at

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