Good and Bad Eating Habits


Eating is an important staple in everyone’s life that is not only needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle but also for survival. Eating is something we do every day to fulfil our nutritional needs. As eating is an important staple in our lives it also comes with controversy between the eating habits of males and females. Some reasons behind our research is to determine if females eat healthier than males due to the pressures from society, to see whether males or females are likely to take nutrients into account, to see who is more likely to reach for unhealthier options over healthy and vice versa.

For this project we are going to observe food options male and females choose in the cafeteria. We are specifically going to observe what food options males and females choose being either a heathy or unhealthy option. The purpose of this observation is to see if females are more likely to choose healthier food options than men.

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We are going to carry out the study in the cafeteria located at the building L cafeteria on the Humber Lakeshore campus, we will be observing at 3 different times which are 10:00am, 12:00pm, and 3:00pm. We are going to be using a tallying system and record when we see a male or female and the food option they chose. We are going to post our results and see if females will truly choose healthier options over males.

Literature Review on Body Image

Social Media

Among females from all over the world body image is becoming a main focus seen throughout social media on sources such as Facebook, YouTube and most popular Instagram.

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Approximately 50% of undergraduate women report being dissatisfied with their body (Grabe, Hyde & Ward, 2008). With seeing what is considered current ‘body goals’ on social media females are specifically being impacted negatively, which influences diets among all ages of females. It is shown that social media has the biggest influence on females when it comes to body issues. Grabe, Hyde and Ward (2008) stated that according to communication theories, repeated exposure to media contents leads viewers to begin to accept media portrayals as representations of reality. Today we see many celberties that set impossible goals when it comes to body image. According to Verstuyf, Vansteenkiste, Soetens & Soenens (2016) Goals are characterized by an outward focus, thereby being oriented towards outcomes of desirable image, wealth, fame and power. Seeing people like the Kardashian’s who are the desirable image, wealthy and famous are perfect examples of what Verstuyf, Vansteenkiste, Soetens & Soenens stated because this family is considered to be the body image goal, but it is extremely unrealistic to look like any of them just from a diet. They are setting unrealistic standards for females around the world but are still a big influence on body image. In our hypothesis we stated that females will choose healthier options than males in our schools’ cafeteria. Therefore, females will most likely choose healthier options because healthier options will add to a healthier looking body. Females are shown to be more thoughtful about food and have a greater concern about weight control (Arganini, Saba, Comitato, Viraili & Turrini, 2012). The topic of how social media influences body image relates to our hypothesis because females could be choosing the healthier options to achieve or maintain what they considered a beautiful body. Grabe, Hyde & Ward, (2008) conducted a research study in the United states in 2008 that proposed that the thin “ideal” body illustrated within social media may have a connection to body image issues among women. Grabe, Hyde & Ward (2008) examines both experimental and correctional testing the connection between media exposure to internalization, and body dissatisfaction. 77 studies were found that shown to affect sizes. The findings included that media exposure illustrating a thin body image is directly relates to the body image concern among women. Verstuyf, Vansteenkiste, Soetens & Soenens (2016) also conducted a study in 2016 on the goals and motives underlying females eating habits. This study included 99 late adolescent female dieters and 99 adult female dieters. Theses females were asked to complete a 7-day diary assessment and a questionnaire. It appears that majority of females at a normal weight range in this study has health focused eating regulation and appearance focused eating regulation. This means that females are almost equally eating to be healthy as they are also eating just for there appearance.

Nutritional Knowledge

When it comes to eating habits there is a significant difference between males and females. This leads to another factor that could influence females choosing healthier options over males. Arganini, Saba, Comitato, Viraili & Turrini, (2012) stated that women demonstrated superior knowledge regarding all areas of nutrition. This means that females have better knowledge of nutritional info which could influence healthier options. Being able to read and understand nutritional information can change the food decision females make. If a female is experiencing body image issues, is on a diet and having the ability to understand the nutritional information she will most likely choose a healthier option. Understanding the nutrition information leads to another factor that relates to our hypothesis. Eating unhealthy leads many females to feel guilt especially of they are working out or on a diet. When females indulge in high calorie sweets like ice cream or candy often felt guilty afterwards while men did not according to Arganini, Saba, Comitato, Viraili & Turrini, (2012) study. If an individual feels guilt doing something it often leaves them hesitant to do it again because of the way it made them feel. Since females have higher nutritional knowledge, they feel more guilt which could lead to sticking to healthier options to remove guilt. The feeling of guilt leads to the next factor which is intuitive eating. Since females often feel guilt when eating unhealthy food, men on the other hand do not experience as much guilt making them more likely to be an intuitive eater. An intuitive eater is “a person who makes food choices without experiencing guilt, or an ethical dilemma, honors hunger and respects fullness” (Be Nourished, 2018). This means an intuitive eater is someone who eats until they are full without guilt.. Men are more likely to trust their bodies to tell them how to eat them females (Denny, Loth, Eisenberg & Neumark-Sztainer, 2013). This means that females will eat what is nutritionally said to eat and males will eat until they feel full. (Denny, Loth, Eisenberg & Neumark-Sztainer, 2013) conducted a study in Minneapolis at the university of Minnesota in 2012 among young adults to measure intuitive eating. This study was conducted over a period of 1-3 weeks and examined 66 young adults. In Denny, Loth, Eisenberg & Neumark-Sztainer (2013) study they used a survey asking questions about dieting and body image. They also examined demographics such as race, age, gender, BMI and socioeconomic status. According to Denny, Loth, Eisenberg & Neumark-Sztainer (2013) results it is more common for both males and females to stop eating when full but there is a higher percent of males that will trust their body to tell them how much to eat compared to females. Denny, Loth, Eisenberg & Neumark-Sztainer (2013) also stated in there results that intuitive eating is associated with lower BMI. 85.9% of the males that trust their body when they are full had a normal BMI and 75.1% of women tested for the same thing had a normal BMI (Denny, Loth, Eisenberg & Neumark-Sztainer, 2013). It is prevalent that the percentage of men with a normal BMI is higher them women making men more likely to be intuitive eaters. Therefore, because it is more common for males to be intuitive eaters’ females will be more likely to choose healthier options.


Throughout our research we used a qualitative research method of naturalistic observation. We observed males versus females eating habits in the building L cafeteria located on the Humber Lakeshore campus to see who was more likely to choose healthier option. We would begin by deciding what we considered healthy and unhealthy options. Healthy options would be considered booster juice, extreme pita, the salad bar and sushi, the unhealthy options would be considered pizza pizza, BRB, and the snacks sold in the cafeteria such as refrigerated beverages (pop, juices), chocolate bars, cookies, etc. Throughout our research the healthy and unhealthy options is what we followed to collect our data. For observing we sat down in the cafeteria in a place where we could see what options people were choosing. We either sat near the entrance of the cafeteria or the exit to see where people lined up and what people left with. We decided to observe at three separate times to be able to get more data and see if there were any differences at these times. The times we decided to observe was at 10:00 am on November 7th, 12:00pm on October 25th , and 3:00pm on October 15th , and we observed for approximately 20 minutes at each time. Observing at 3 separate times we will be able to observe differences such as the amount of people in the cafeteria, if there are more males then females, and the different food options at the different times. To make the observations easier we had a group member who specifically would tally the data observed and observer who would say what they saw. We did this, so we would get as much data as possible and be as accurate as possible. After we found the data, we would go over what we saw, for example we would see if there was more males or females, or we would see that difference in the number of students overall at that specific time.


Healthy food Unhealthy food

10:00am Females 12 6

Male 8 13

Healthy food Unhealthy food

12:00pm Females 8 10

Males 8 17

Healthy food Unhealthy food

3:00pm Females 21 11

Males 12 8

During our 1st observation, 3:00pm, our results showed that women were more likely to choose healthier food options than men, but the amount of unhealthy choices were almost equivalent to the men. During our 2nd observation, 12:00pm, the results showed that both genders chose the same amount of healthy food options, but the men chose more unhealthy options than the women. Although, the mount of unhealthy food choices was almost the same in both genders. For our last observation, 9:00am, the results showed that women were more likely to choose healthy food options in comparison to men. This time the men were double as likely to choose unhealthy options than the women.

According to our results 3:00pm was the most popular time for females to be in the cafeteria and 12:00pm was the most popular time for males to be in the cafeteria. At both 10:00am and 3:00pm it is prevalent that females went for healthier options over unhealthy and only at 3:00pm males were seen to choose healthier options. At 12:00pm it is shown that females and males both opted for unhealthy options over healthy, but the females are more neutral being 8 to 10 for healthy vs unhealthy and males are still more prevalent to have picked unhealthy choices being 8 to 17 for healthy vs. unhealthy.


Through a humanistic and behaviorism psychological perspective we can see relevance of the results in different ways. In a humanistic approach there is a connection to our hypothesis and literature review because it is what an individual sees in themselves that causes certain behaviors. The humanistic perspective is linked through self-image and feelings of an individual. This connects because we believe that the females eating habits will be different due to the body images that are portrayed on social media. Through social media we see many females that struggles with body dissatisfaction which was stated by Grabe, Hyde & Ward, (2008). This connects to the hypothesis because it is possible women choose healthier options because of what the media portrays as a beautiful body. Behaviorism is another approach that connects to our hypothesis and literature review is behaviorism. Behaviorism is when an individual is controlled by there environment. Females eating habits are shown to be controlled a lot by media. Seeing famous people and the body standards they set make females fell the need to meet those expectations by diet and healthier eating habits. Females could possible be classically conditioned the NS would be the food we have to choose from in the cafeteria unhealthy and healthy, the media and nutritional information is the UCS. The options of food and nutritional information paired with media creates body dissatisfaction in females seeing what is considered beautiful to the media and knowing that eating pizza pizza will not get you there, this would be the UCR. Then the CS would be the food options and the CR would be the nutritional information and the media.


Both social media and nutritional knowledge can in fact influence whether females choose healthier options over males, because they are both factors that lead females to choose healthier options. Social media represents unrealistic body goals that make females want to eat healthier to achieve or maintain these goals. Having nutritional knowledge will lead females away from un healthy options because they understand what is in them, also having this knowledge could lead to guilt which will also influence females to choose the healthier options. Therefore because of social media and prior knowledge of nutrition info females will choose healthier options over unhealthy. According to our results it is more common for females to opt for unhealthy option at 12:00pm and there are more females then males in the cafeteria at 3:00pm. It is prevalent that males opt for healthier options throughout the day but are most likely to choose healthier options at the 3:00pm time. Therefore, our study has proven that females are more likely to choose healthier options than males.


What we observed while carrying out the observations and seeing the results is that there can be factors such as living on campus and a busy schedule the could impact the food choices male and females choose. Living on campus is a new experience for most students as it is the first time away from home. A reason why males and females may use the cafeteria is because they are unable to prepare their own meals, they are use to getting meals prepared at home and now realize they cannot provide meals for themselves. Another reason is a busy schedule, most students struggle with time management and do not have the ability to carry out school and prepare meals for school. Eating in the cafeteria is convenient for students and a fast way get eating out of the way. Therefore, in a new study we could look at these factors to get more in-depth results.

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Good and Bad Eating Habits. (2021, Mar 05). Retrieved from

Good and Bad Eating Habits

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