Human eating behavior, or how not to be afraid to eat?

  • Author: D. Gritskevich
  • 21.12.2022
  • Blog

Rational nutrition is a favorite topic for dialogues and disputes in the field of fitness. Professional or amateur – everyone has their own opinion on this. He’s eating, so he’s in the subject! And if so, you can share your personal experience, advise and teach. At the same time, in order to really understand the giant piles of diets, recipes and recommendations, as well as not to get carried away with the game called “live to eat”, I propose to dryly and impartially evaluate some of the key points that make up a person’s eating behavior.


From the point of view of a biologist, eating behavior is a set of unconditioned reflexes, innate life support programs, which are the same for all people (i.e. species). What kind of bonuses did we get from Mother Nature?

Firstly, the desire to eat in reserve (there is always little food in the natural environment, you need to look for it, get it). Normally, for a person, food is just a source of energy and nothing more. It is necessary to be well-fed in order to maintain vital activity. Therefore, going to bed hungry is a great stress for the body, because then tomorrow there will not be enough energy to search for new food.

Secondly, pantophagy. Australopithecus (inhabitants of the savannah) ate mainly what they would find in the savannah. Often these were the corpses of animals. And there is no need to think badly about our ancient ancestors, even now we do not know how and when death came to the animals that became steaks. A person with normal reflex eating behavior does not occupy himself with thinking about food, he eats everything in a row and for the future.

Thirdly, the food is delicious. The physiological relationship of nutrition with emotions is well studied and looks, in general, like this: when eating a large amount of “fast” carbohydrates, the level of glucose in the blood increases, which leads to increased insulin secretion This enhances the entry into the central nervous system of a special amino acid – tryptophan, which is part of serotonin. Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that is involved in the formation of satiety and emotional comfort. Therefore, high-carbohydrate food helps to achieve emotional comfort, get rid of the state of depression, irritation, anxiety and bad mood, brings calmness, a feeling of joy, satiety and peace.

Thus, nature has done everything to ensure that we survive by eating for the future and enjoying it. For the majority of the world’s population even now, survival is a search for food and hard work for food. Of the seven billion people living on the planet, five billion have a salary of less than $ 50 a month, and one billion people are starving. Even in developed countries, where excessive food is the norm, not everyone can afford an expensive pleasure – a diet. The right diet is even more expensive, marketing flourishes equally on the fattening, on the losing weight, on the faint-hearted, on the unfortunate. That’s all that remains — to learn how to manage your own eating behavior without losing money, pleasure from eating, and without acquiring mental disorders at the same time.


Psychologists have long known that human behavior is determined mainly not by consciousness, but by the subconscious, which, in addition to natural programs, also includes socially imposed ones. And here it’s time to consider some well-known eating disorders.

External eating behavior is an increased reaction to external stimuli for eating. This means that such a person will always eat when he sees a set table or delicious food. It is such a person who often eats “for company” or buys too much food in the supermarket, succumbing to seductive advertising. The feeling of fullness does not come immediately and is perceived, rather, as an overflow of the stomach.

Emotionogenic eating behavior is the so-called “jamming” of problems. It is typical for 60% of obese people. Such people eat not because they are hungry, but because they are tired, sad or anxious, lonely or just in a bad mood.

This eating behavior has two options:

1) Compulsive eating behavior (sudden desire to eat).

How to define it?

  • A person eats more and faster than usual.
  • Loses control when eating.
  • He eats alone because he is ashamed in front of others, feels guilty.

An overfilled stomach stops the absorption of food.

2) Night eating syndrome.

How to define it?

  • There is no appetite in the morning, but in the evening and at night, on the contrary, I really want to eat.
  • Sleep is disturbed.
  • After eating, drowsiness appears, performance decreases.

As a rule, this behavior is formed in families where the mother tried to feed the child not only when he is hungry, but also when he is sad, hurt or hard. In such cases, the child cannot separate the emotions experiences from bodily sensations, therefore, he forms a stereotype “When I feel bad, I have to eat.” The importance of eating is high, so it is difficult for a person to rebuild his behavior already in adulthood.

Restrictive eating behavior is often a consequence of self-medication for obesity (including apparent). A person constantly restricts his diet, sits on haphazard diets. First, a person sets himself tasks in limiting food intake, then feels proud if the goal is achieved, or, conversely, a sense of guilt if something did not work out. After a diet, weight gain often occurs, that is, periods of food reward and food punishment alternate. This behavior is characterized by “dietary depression”, low self-esteem. All this can lead to anorexia.

There are other, stranger eating disorders. It must be remembered that every such ailment is a person’s suffering and pain, it is a trap into which he fell one way or another.


The first stage of conscious work in this direction is to change one’s own attitude to food, which involves adjusting a number of factors (attitudes, behaviors, habits in relation to food). Harmonious eating behavior is characterized by the place assigned by a person to the process of eating in the value system. In modern consumer society, the importance of food is greatly exaggerated. With an adequate attitude, a person eats to get the energy necessary for life – “eat to live.” Revision of one’s own value system in any context is a useful thing.

The second stage of conscious work is to acquire a sufficient amount of knowledge, skills and practice in the area under study in order to competently and correctly help fitness gym clients who seek help. The ancients said: “To be able to help is happiness,” but you need to be prepared for such difficult and delicate activity as helping.

In reality, a person’s eating behavior is influenced not only by his biological needs, but also by upbringing, childhood experience, and thinking strategies. The ability to understand the causes and mechanisms of one’s own eating behavior, the desire to be adequate, free from addictions, an understanding of the need for reasonable self-restraint, the ability to look at oneself from the outside and a sense of humor are signs of a healthy psyche and a mature personality.