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Factors Affecting Nutritional Intake


Proper nutrition is an integral attribute of a healthy lifestyle according to any diet. However, despite the availability of information about what the optimal menu should be, there are factors that affect individual food preferences and choices. In individual cultures, attitudes to specific food products may vary depending on religious, social, and other aspects. Some restrictions cannot be associated with a healthy diet, which explains the need for searching for alternatives. The evaluation of specific factors influencing food choices and restrictions allows highlighting unique cultural criteria and analyzing the variability of dietary patterns.

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Importance of Nutrition

Nutrition can be characterized from different perspectives depending on the functions that it carries and manifestations. From a scholarly perspective, this is a discipline that studies the principles and implications of food intake from the standpoints of benefits for a human body and effects on individual systems and subsystems. According to the World Health Organization (2020), “nutrition is a critical part of health and development” (para. 1). From a consumer perspective, this term is a field that studies the factors that influence eating behaviors. Fogelholm (2016) describes nutrition as a discipline that is directly related to the social aspects of life. However, any definition implies the importance of this sphere of human life and its role in forming health.

Characteristics of a Healthy Diet

Following a healthy diet involves many factors that should be observed. In particular, according to the report of the World Health Organization (2019), there are common nutritional principles to follow. The agency highlights the balance of calories, the limited intake of fats, sugar, and salt, the regular consumption of fresh vegetables and fruit, and some other valuable eating habits (World Health Organization, 2019). At the same time, there are distinctive nutritional patterns for adults and children because, at different ages, distinctive approaches to a diet should be promoted. Therefore, any nutritional approach is an individual phenomenon that is analyzed for each specific case to have a positive effect on a body.

Factors Influencing Food Choices

In addition to cultural factors determining personal food choices, there are other markers that characterize people’s nutritional preferences. Shanks et al. (2017) consider this topic and note that, for instance, the economic aspects of life largely affect the principles of a diet, which are promoted in individual communities. Low-income people cannot afford to buy expensive food products with valuable components, which makes their diets less advanced. As another factor, Shanks et al. (2017) suggest paying attention to a geographic location. Specific living conditions form unique eating habits based on the availability of certain products. Therefore, in addition to cultural aspects, other criteria should be considered when evaluating people’s food choices.

Food Restrictions: Jewish Culture

As an example of the culture chosen to analyze specific food restrictions and the challenges associated with them, the Jewish community will be considered. The characteristic social and religious characteristics of this population are largely determined by dietary principles that, despite their rich history, have some negative implications for people’s health. For instance, according to the research conducted by Mount and Bogle (2016), about 26% of Jewish children have diagnosed obesity, which is due to improper eating habits (p. 458). Therefore, the issue of proper nutrition is relevant to this population. Regarding specific restrictions, the concept of kosher food is associated with the Jewish community. Hamerman et al. (2019) describe specific examples of Jewish cuisine and mention certain foods that are not eaten, such as pork or seafood, cooking methods, including the ban on leavened products, and other conventions. In addition, specific products, such as beef and chicken, can only be consumed if, previously, animals were slaughtered under special Jewish law (Hamerman et al., 2019). Thus, many restrictions are unique to the chosen cultural community.

Difficulties in Achieving a Healthy Diet

Those religious canons and principles that the Jewish community adheres to impose restrictions on food, which, in turn, does not allow people to get the necessary nutrients from different products. As Mount and Bogle (2016) note, if Israeli shops and markets do not offer the right assortment, even unorthodox Jews cannot find ways to eat properly. In addition, as the authors argue, specific religious rules influence consumer decision-making, thereby limiting opportunities to observe a diet rich in various trace elements and vitamins (Mount & Bogle, 2016). Therefore, searching for alternative products is an essential task to promote a healthy lifestyle among the Jewish population.

Dietary Alternatives

Alternatively, changing the recipes of individual dishes could be a valuable intervention to overcome dietary restrictions, as well as replacing high-calorie foods with more useful ones. For instance, Mount and Bogle (2016) cite the experience of Jews who reduce the amount of oil in dishes or consume less high-calorie baked goods instead of traditional bread. Such changes do not contradict with religious principles and, at the same time, help people reduce the risks of weight gain and overload on their bodies.

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Dietary patterns promoted in individual cultures are unique nutritional principles, and the example of the Jewish community is evidence. Certain factors, including social and economic aspects, can affect food choices, and for Jews, a religious background is a good reason for many restrictions. Individual canons do not allow people to adhere to a healthy diet, and as alternatives, changing recipes and reducing the consumption of high-calorie foods are valuable measures to comply with proper nutrition rules.


Fogelholm, M. (2016). Nutrition recommendations and science: Next parallel steps. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 96(4), 1059-1063. Web.

Hamerman, E. J., Schneider, A. B., & Rozensher, S. G. (2019). Disgust sensitivity and kosher food preferences among the non-Jewish population in the US. Appetite, 143, p. 104413. Web.

Mount, A., & Bogle, V. (2016). The dieting experience: A Jewish perspective. Journal of Health Psychology, 21(4), 457-467. Web.

Shanks, C. B., Haack, S., Tarabochia, D., Bates, K., & Christenson, L. (2017). Factors influencing food choices among older adults in the rural western USA. Journal of Community Health, 42(3), 511-521. Web.

World Health Organization. (2019). Healthy diet. Web.

World Health Organization. (2020). Nutrition. Web.

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