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Lesson Note

Subject: Food And Nutrition

Topic: Cultural Food Habits

Lesson Objectives: By the end of the lesson, the learners should be able to:

  1. Define the terms ‘food habits, food fads, food fallacies, food taboos’;
  2. Mention the factors that can affect food habit;
  3. Identify food fallacies of their localities;
  4. Advocate to discourage food fallacies in their localities.

Methods of Instruction: Discussion, planned repetition, drama, project etc.

Activities: To enhance learners understanding of the topic and also to create awareness, teachers should guide the learners to stage a drama on the need for food taboos, fads and fallacies to be discouraged in our society.

Lesson Summary / Discussion

Food Habits

We can’t go ahead to define food habit without first knowing what habit means. Habit is an established way of doing things on a regular basis or an action performed repeatedly and automatically, sometimes without awareness. Food Habits are attitudes people display towards certain foods.

Types of Food Habit

There are two types of food habits, the good and the bad food habits. Good or bad food habits result from the community interaction of social, emotional and cultural factors in a given community. Once food habits are established, they are not always easy to change.
However, before one can change his or her food habits or help others to change theirs, it is important to appreciate and understand the variation people have in their likes and dislikes as well as their attitudes
towards food. Some people have good food habits because they have been fortunate in their early home and school environment. Other people through education have seen the need for change and have been willing to modify their habits while the unfortunate ones still dwell in the dark.

Factors That Can Affect Food Habits
Food habits can be affected by different factors. Some of these factors are:

  • Family upbringing.
  • Social interaction.
  • Customs and taboos
  • Weather and climate
  • The type of food produced within
  • beol that locality.
  • Health of the individualoolood
  • Economic status
  • Educatioon
  • Physiological variations.
  • Religion
  • Emotional feelings

Food habits are also influenced by fads and fallacies about food. Thus there is a need for nutrition education at all levels, especially at the local levels where there are so many superstitious beliefs about food that should be corrected.

Food Taboos, Fads and Fallacies

Food Taboos
There are different types of food that
are not consumed by different people in different parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive. Usually such foods are forbidden for one reason or the other; some may be due to religious, cultural or other reasons. Such foods theretore become taboo i.e.prohibited for the particular people concerned.

For example in some parts of Nigeria, it is a taboo for pregnant women to eat snails. Such people believe that the baby when delivered will be salivating profusely should the mother eat snails during pregnancy. Some even go as far as saying such children tend to be sluggish in behaviour just like snails. Some others prohibit the consumption of reptiles because they believe that the baby will be crawling and will not walk on time. Most of the taboos have no scientific basis and they tend to deprive the individual concerned from eating a balanced diet. A lot of food taboos exist in different parts of Nigeria.

Food Fads
A ‘Fad’ is a phenomenon, style or custom that becomes popular which many people are interested in for a short time. Fads may be popular but do not last for long.

Food fads can therefore be defined as certain practices about food, engaged in by people for a relatively short period. Foods are like fashions which come and go. It should be noted that in as much as food fad is in practice doesn’t make it nutritionally acceptable or sound. Let’s take for instance, fried rice which was very popular some time ago and if you were having a party or ceremony and did not prepare fried rice, people would look down on such an occasion. Thus food fads are practices that tend to boost the social status within the society. People tend to look out for a particular food in an occasion before they can rate such occasion. This was the case of fried rice as stated earlier.

Food Fallacies
Food fallacies are wrong opinions about the role of certain nutrients in the body. The wide-spread fallacies about the role of food nutrients in the body within the country make nutrition education very important. Fallacies about food are contributive to the high rate of malnutrition, especially among children.

Some Common Food Fallacies
1. Fallacy: Consumption of meat by children gives rise to the development of worms in them.
Fact: Children need meat because it is a good source of first class protein which they need for proper growth. They should therefore be encouraged to consume meat.
2. Fallacy: Vegetable oils are less fattening than solid fats.

Fact: Oils and solid fats are equally high in calories, that is each gram of fat from either source furnishes 9Kcal.

3. Fallacy: A diet low in calcium leads to nervousness.
Fact: When the diet is inadequate, calcium is readily withdrawn from the bones to supply the minute amounts needed to regulate the response of the nerves. There is no evidence that a low-calcium diet intake leads to nervousness.

4. Fallacy: Vitamins from food sources are better than those from synthetic Sources.
Fact: Each vitamin has a definite chemical composition. Thus one
milligram of vitamin from a food Source or from a concentrate exactly eliminates the need to spend additional money for vitamin tablets. There are, of course, legitimate uses for vitamin nud tablets in disease conditions. You ask yourself, if this fallacy is true, why do people still patronize malaria drugs, why don’t they stick to chewing leaves of plants?

5. fallacy: Athletes need more protein than non-athetes.

Fact: The protein requirement of the adult depends on the body size and not on the amount of exercise.

Conclusion: From the discussion above, it is very clear that food taboos, food fads and food fallacies contribute greatly to malnourishment as they hinder the consumption of the rightful amount of nutrients. Health practitioners, dieticians, educators should join hands to discourage them in our society.

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Lesson Evaluation / Test

  1. What are food habits?
  2. Mention two types of food habits.
  3. Food Habits can be affected by different factors. Mention them.
  4. Give an illustrative examples of food taboos and food fads.
  5. State some examples of food fallacies in our society.
  6. What can you do to discourage food taboos, fads and fallacies in your locality?

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