How do you choose your food?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Author Martin Cheifetz

If you are a regular reader of our newsletters or follow our delicious, nutritious recipes, you’ll know I write about 50% of our articles on specific food ingredients.  Those articles are interesting to research and write, and hopefully interesting for you to read, but this week I decided to change the approach.

While editing this week’s beautifully photographed recipe for red pepper and mince wraps,  Quorn was one of the ingredients I considered for the food review.  Quorn is an interesting food.  Without taking too much of a position, the significant benefits of Quorn are:  it’s high in protein; it’s high in fiber; it may be beneficial for weight loss, it’s low on the glycemic index, it has no cholesterol; and it is a plant-based food which is unquestionably more sustainable and easier on the conscience and the environment than fish/animal based food sources.  It’s also convenient, easy to prepare and comparatively inexpensive.  That’s an impressively long list of attributes!

So why am I hesitating to write about it?  Despite its clear nutritional benefits and environmental advantages, it’s not on my personal grocery list.  Why?  Because it’s equal parts food and laboratory experiment.  Quorn doesn’t grow on a tree or in the ground, and it reminds me of that perfectly formulated “astronaut food” in a can.  Like Quorn, “astronaut food” is also precision engineered for optimum human nutrition, but personally,  I don’t really want to eat that either.

So this made me think: How and why do people choose their food ingredients? What are the primary motivations for food selection, and how/why do people blend those ingredients into their daily meals and weekly meal plans?

Medical reasons

a) My FitnessGenes DNA Analysis told me I should eat or avoid foods like “XYZ"

b) My Doctor told me that due to my “ABC condition”, I should eat more or less “XYZ” or follow a Mediterranean / Paleo / vegetarian / low FODMAPS etc diet

c) I took a specialized breath test / blood test / gut biome test that suggested I either avoid certain foods or eat certain other foods to correct a problem (or avoid one in the future)

d) I have a known or suspected food intolerance or allergy

e) I have dental issues and therefore need to eat foods that are soft in texture or in liquid form

Ethical, cultural, or financial reasons

a) I’m a vegetarian / vegan because it’s more environmentally friendly i.e. plant based foods can be produced with less pollutants and less water than farmed animals

b) I’m a vegetarian / vegan because I think killing animals for food is cruel / gross

c) I’m a vegetarian / vegan because that’s part of my family’s/cultural/religious beliefs

d) Cows (or other) are a sacred animal and cannot be eaten

e) Worldwide fish stocks are dwindling, so I’m not going to eat fish

f) I only eat foods that are sustainably produced or that I grow / catch or kill myself

g) It’s what my parents fed me when I was a kid, so I keep eating it as an adult

h) I can’t afford to buy “X” so I buy “Y” instead

Taste, appearance, cultivation, cooking

a) I only like foods that are salty or sweet or bland, etc

b) I only like foods that are brown (or brightly colored) etc

c) I only like foods that I can drink (or need to chew)

d) I only eat foods that are raw (or cooked)

e) I only eat foods that are all natural / preservative free / come from a local farm / haven’t travelled more than 100 miles from farm to plate, etc.

f) I can’t cook, so I only eat prepared foods at home or out in restaurants (any format)

g) I only want to cook once a week, so I only eat stews / soups or anything else that I can cook in a massive pot.

h) I only want to cook foods that have 5 ingredients (or less) and that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes (or faster)

Recommendation from a friend, family member, or publication I trust

a) My friend lost weight or gained muscle by eating more of “this” and less of “that” so I’m going to try it too (i.e. anecdotal evidence of success)

b) My mother’s Doctor told her to “eat this, not that”, so I’m going to follow the same advice and attempt to avoid the same problem (i.e. avoid genetic predisposition for a certain condition)

c) I read an article on a website or in a magazine / newspaper (or other media) that I trust and they said I should “eat this and not that” so I’m following their well-credentialled, well-researched advice

d) Gwyneth Paltrow eats kale chips and blueberries and she’s gorgeous and healthy, so I’m going to eat kale chips and blueberries and be gorgeous and healthy too.  (By the way, I will be writing about blueberries next week!)

Daily or weekly meal planning

a) I am very precise and methodical in my daily meal planning and ensure that all of my food is weighed, measured, all meals are nutritionally balanced, and in the correct caloric and macronutrient ratios because I am following a specific diet or nutritional plan

b) I don’t really weigh or measure anything, but I do strive to eat a healthy, well balanced diet on a daily basis

c) I eat like Gwyneth Paltrow some days (see 4d above) and on other days, I eat like Norm from Cheers.

d) I have a specific rotation of foods to ensure I get a bit of everything good (eg. I eat fish every Sunday, only plant-based foods on Monday and Thursday, chicken on Wednesday, and red meats on Tuesday and Saturday).

e) I go by feel….if I feel like I’m eating too much meat, I may have 3 (or 7) consecutive meat-free days, etc.

f) I follow a specific diet or meal plan from a book/magazine/website/medical professional/personal trainer/etc


If there are other reasons or rationales that you believe I missed, please feel free to email me at  We may develop a more detailed survey (yes, with a prize/incentive for completion) to learn more about your food and dietary preferences in the near future, so as always, we’re very interested in your opinion.


If you enjoyed this article, please check out my other FitnessGenes food blogs:

 Eggs, Quinoa, Borlotti Beans, Almonds, Teff, Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas.


Out of the kitchen, I also cover the following topics for FitnessGenes:

- Avoid dietary failures with technology and personalization

- Savings, Longevity, and the Year in Fitness

- 3 Pro-basketball players in the same family?

- Jamaican sprinting/African distance running dominance

- A genetic overview of an Olympic rower

- 5 things I learned from my DNA test

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