Diet: Conditioned Eating and Social Customs

There is a whole psychology to eating that is vital to understanding what we really perceive as healthy eating versus unhealthy eating.

Many of us have been raised to accept junk food as part of the Stand American Diet (SAD).

I know that the SAD diet is something many nutritionists frown upon, and part of the move to a vegan and raw food diet is an attempt to eat healthier and steer away from the SAD diet. But, many times even a vegan diet and raw food diet can be unhealthy. It truly is what healthy choices you make within your current “food philosophy”.

For example, you could be a vegan and still eat a lot of fast food like McDonald’s french fries.

But, with the whole fast food culture, unfortunately many Americans think fast food is just as healthy as anything else, and at least we tell ourselves that it’s acceptable, for whatever reasons. And that explains why we still see long lines at the McDonald’s drive-thru.

Also, another dilemma is the convenience factor associated with fast foods and even those packaged meals you find in the supermarket freezer section. Many Americans feel they simply have no time in their schedule to cook wholesome meals, so they may resort to fast foods and convenience foods that can be heated up quickly in the microwave oven.

On a good note, many Americans are getting smart and insisting they eat whole, organic foods, and if they eat meat insist on buying the organic, free range or grass fed meats.

But, the dilemma I see in society is that we humans are social beings, and eating can be a very social experience. I mean, we eat together, we dine out together, we have picnics and eat at the ballgame. Eating in America is a very social experience and this extends into Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve!

We take out pizza and share it with our friends. And, we may try to accomodate our vegetarian friends including a vegetarian pizza.

While our hearts and minds may be in the right place as far as knowing what we SHOULD be eating, once we get into social situations and see what foods are available in those social settings, we succumb to peer pressure or just fall off the wagon and fail with whatever healthy diet we were following.

Especially in family get-togethers, it might be hard for a vegan or a raw foodist to handle situations where they are the odd person for not eating the Turkey Dinner, or whatever ethnic dish our relative made, and if we didn’t eat it we might offend that relative. Hopefully, the vegan or raw foodist is in a family that is a bit more understanding and supportive. But, still it’s hard because if you are the only vegan or raw foodist in the family you are still considered the oddball, or the weird relative who doesn’t eat the same food as the rest of the relatives.

Of course, there are those people in social settings who like to critique someone who’s different like a vegan or a raw foodist, asking questions like, “Where do you get your protein?” Or if you have been successful with being on a diet where you lose weight, people will ask if you are sick, or they may even go so far as to say that whatever diet you are on is wrong.

I think there are psychological and sociological factors connected to eating and social eating. Like, if you happen to be different in your eating habits, then you are scrutinized if you are different from the rest of the group.

Of course, people will defend their current eating habits as the correct way, the norm, and critique other dietary philosophies that are different. That is the problem. And, it’s really a matter of living and let live. Follow your own philosophy and not be quick to condemn others. But, at the same time knowing what is obviously healthy and unhealthy eating. There will be signs that are quite obvious.

And I don’t think anyone would argue that a healthy salad is definitely better than a McDonald’s Big Mac. Or would they?



Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and

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