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Some persons only eat specific foods and flavor combinations, while others like trying different foods and flavors.There are many factors that determine what foods a person eats.A cultural group provides guidelines regarding acceptable foods, food combinations, eating patterns, and eating behaviors.
Within large cultural groups, subgroups exist that may practice variations of the group's eating behaviors, though they are still considered part of the larger group.
For example, a hamburger, French fries, and a soda are considered a typical American meal.
For example, alligators exist in many parts of the world, but they are unacceptable as food by many persons.
Likewise, horses, turtles, and dogs are eaten (and even considered a delicacy) in some cultures, though they are unacceptable food sources in other cultures.
These preferences develop over time, and are influenced by personal experiences such as encouragement to eat, exposure to a food, family customs and rituals, advertising, and personal values.
For example, one person may not like frankfurters, despite the fact that they are a family favorite.In addition to personal preferences, there are cultural, social, religious, economic, environmental, and even political factors.Every individual has unique likes and dislikes concerning foods.The term eating habits (or food habits) refers to why and how people eat, which foods they eat, and with whom they eat, as well as the ways people obtain, store, use, and discard food.Individual, social, cultural, religious, economic, environmental, and political factors all influence people's eating habits. They also eat to express appreciation, for a sense of belonging, as part of family customs, and for self-realization.There are also rules concerning with whom it is appropriate to eat.For example, doctors in a health facility may eat in areas separate from patients or clients.Etiquette and eating rituals also vary depending on whether the meal is formal, informal, or special (such as a meal on a birthday or religious holiday).A meal is usually defined as the consumption of two or more foods in a structured setting at a set time.The components of a meal vary across cultures, but generally include grains, such as rice or noodles; meat or a meat substitute, such as fish, beans, or tofu; and accompaniments, such as vegetables.Various food guides provide suggestions on foods to eat, portion sizes, and daily intake.