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Uncovering the Roots of Eating Habits: A Practical Guide

Have you ever wondered why it’s so difficult to resist certain foods or why your food choices aren’t always the healthiest? Well, you’re not alone. Our eating habits are influenced by a variety of factors, from our emotions and past experiences to our culture and social environment.

Imagine an iceberg floating in the ocean. The visible part above the surface represents our eating behaviours, such as what we eat and when we eat. However, the majority of the iceberg is submerged, representing the hidden factors that drive our eating habits – our emotions, beliefs, family patterns, past traumas, and cultural influences.

To truly understand our eating habits, we need to explore the underlying roots. This is where the iceberg metaphor becomes a valuable tool. By examining the hidden layers of the iceberg, we can uncover the emotional, psychological, and social factors that shape our food choices. This gives us a deeper insight into why we eat what we eat and empowers us to make positive changes to our diet.

So, how can we begin to explore the roots of our eating habits? Here are some simple steps:

For this activity, you’ll create an iceberg diagram similar to the one shown in the image. At the bottom, list all the eating patterns you may have, which could include emotions, beliefs, family patterns, or past traumas. Utilize your self-awareness by taking the time to reflect on your eating habits and recognize any recurring patterns.


  1. Exploring Emotions: Look for emotional patterns in your eating. Do you tend to eat more when you’re stressed, anxious, bored, or sad? Identifying these emotional triggers can help you develop strategies to deal with them more healthily.
  2.  Examining Beliefs and Family Patterns: Reflect on the messages about food you’ve received throughout your life, especially from your family and culture. These beliefs and family patterns can significantly influence your current eating habits.
  3. Acknowledging Past Traumas: Be open to exploring any past trauma that may be impacting your relationship with food. Traumatic experiences, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, can leave a profound mark on our eating habits.

After analysing the roots of your eating habits using the iceberg metaphor, you’ll be ready to start planning positive changes to your diet. Here are some tips to help you do that:

i.Set Realistic Goals: Set specific and achievable goals to improve your eating. Focus on making gradual and sustainable changes over time.

ii. Develop an Action Plan: Create a plan for healthy and balanced meals that includes a variety of nutritious foods. Make a shopping list and prepare your meals in advance to avoid impulsive food decisions.

iii. Stay Mindful: Practice mindful eating by paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Eat slowly and savour each bite, avoiding distractions like television or cell phones during meals.

iv. Seek Support: Engage friends, family, or a healthcare professional in your change process. Having a support system can keep you motivated and accountable for your eating choices.

v. Be Kind to Yourself: Remember that changing eating habits takes time and effort. If you have an occasional slip-up, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, get back on track and keep progressing towards healthier eating.

As we conclude our exploration of the roots of our eating habits, let’s appreciate the power of self-awareness and deliberate change. By delving into the layers of emotions, beliefs, and experiences that influence our relationship with food, we’ve taken a significant step towards a healthier life.

Change isn’t always easy, but it’s achievable. Each insight gained and every small step towards healthier eating is a victory. Let’s embrace this journey with compassion and resilience, knowing that our efforts contribute to our well-being.

As you continue towards healthy eating, stay curious, committed, and connected. Seek support, celebrate successes, and learn from challenges. Remember to be kind to yourself.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. May your newfound understanding lead you to a life of nourishment, vitality, and joy. Here’s to a healthier, happier you!

Explore our website for more valuable insights, practical tips, and delicious recipes to support your journey toward a healthier and happier you!

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Lissy Pinheiro Silva

BSc, MSc ((PHN) , Behavioural therapist coach R.Nutr (Cape Verde) ANutr(AfN, UK)

Hello readers! I am Lissy Pinheiro, a registered nutritionist in Cape Verde and the UK. As a guest contributor to the blog, I will be sharing behavior-change strategies to help readers gain insight into themselves and maintain a healthy relationship with food. My main goal is to assist people in attending to their physical and emotional needs when it comes to food choices, promoting a sustainable lifestyle by developing new habits and coping mechanisms that align with their weight loss goals. I stress the importance of putting knowledge into practice and adapting strategies to fit individual realities for better results.

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