I recall an old book that stated flatly, “You are what you eat.” Clearly, we can all agree that lack of food doesn’t help us enjoy a better quality of life. But here’s some definitive research that connects what we eat to our feelings of well-being … our quality-of-life experience. Comments afterwards.
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New Research Finds Links
Between Food, Higher Wellbeing
BY ANDREW DUGAN
OCTOBER 18, 2023
Nearly nine in 10 people worldwide (87%) say they mostly enjoyed the food they recently ate, according to a new report investigating the relationship between people’s feelings about food and their wellbeing. However, slightly fewer people (82%) describe the food they recently ate as “mostly healthy,” and a significantly smaller share (63%) say they felt they had a lot of choices in the types of food they ate in the past seven days.
These results come from the inaugural Ando Foundation/Nissin Food Products Satisfaction With Food Enjoyment and Variety Survey, which was fielded as part of the 2022 Gallup World Poll. The survey asked people to evaluate three key aspects of the food they ate in the seven days before the interview: whether they “mostly enjoyed” their food, thought it was mostly healthy and felt like they had lots of choices in the types of food they had to eat.
A new report, Recipes for Wellbeing, reviews the major findings from these three survey questions and investigates how people’s feelings about the food they eat are related to their own sense of wellbeing, as measured by Gallup’s Life Evaluation Index.
Food Wellbeing Index Establishes Links to Overall Wellbeing
Recipes for Wellbeing introduces the Food Wellbeing Index, which assesses whether individuals are “completely satisfied” with their diet — meaning they answer yes to all three questions, indicating that they feel their food was enjoyable, healthy and selected from a host of options. Individuals who do not answer yes to all three questions are not considered to be completely satisfied on the Food Wellbeing Index.
Globally, 55% of people are completely satisfied with the food they ate in the past seven days, while 45% are not. However, this varies considerably by region, with more than seven in 10 people classified as completely satisfied in Northern, Southern and Western Europe and in Northern America (75% and 71%, respectively), while less than half of people in the Arab States (46%), Northern Africa (42%) and sub-Saharan Africa (37%) also fall into this category.
The report details a statistically significant relationship between being completely satisfied on the Food Wellbeing Index and rating one’s current and future lives positively enough to be considered “thriving.”
Thirty-four percent of those who are completely satisfied are considered thriving, compared with 19% of people who are not completely satisfied — a difference of 15 percentage points.
Notably, this relationship holds even when accounting for other relevant personal characteristics or attitudes, including gender, household income, age, education and country of residence.
This “thriving gap” between the two states of food wellbeing — being completely satisfied, or not — is essentially just as wide regardless of country income, even if the likelihood of thriving is generally greater in upper-middle-income and high-income countries. Regardless of country income status, those who are completely satisfied on the Food Wellbeing Index are at least 10 points more likely to be thriving than those who are not completely satisfied.
The inaugural Ando Foundation/Nissin Food Products Satisfaction With Food Enjoyment and Variety Survey finds that a towering percentage of people worldwide enjoy the food they eat, while a slightly smaller proportion consider their diet to be mostly healthy. Less common, though, is the feeling of having a variety of choices in the types of food one consumes.
Having a choice in the types of food one eats is important for several reasons, including that maintaining a diverse diet is a critical step toward having a healthy one. Furthermore, having a wider array of food-related choices is a necessary step to being completely satisfied on the Food Wellbeing Index, which is strongly predictive of people’s overall wellbeing.
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I define “Sustainable Living” as living 100% with what Earth provides – which is actually not all that difficult to do, technically – and enjoying a greater quality-of-life experience. I especially valued comments in the report that included “thriving” in their definition. How do we make the most of the lives we have? I was unsure of what else to add, so I turned to D …
“Thriving is a beautiful word. It is our hope that all human beings can thrive. If you have enough food, and food that you enjoy, with variety, it’s the beginning of thriving. Once you have food and shelter, then the question arises …
“When one has the basics, then one can go out and do wonderful things. And what we mean by that is to do things that bring one joy and satisfaction. If each individual can do what brings one joy and satisfaction, the world can become a better place.
“War and turbulence arise from lack. Lack of food. Lack of shelter. Lack of joy. Lack of satisfaction. Lack of a feeling that there’s a positive future. Today’s world needs to begin by understanding each individual’s need for satisfaction.
“We also feel a need to share our belief in meditation … which can simply be walking quietly in nature, gardening, watching water, watching the birds … any activity that quiets the mid and the soul.
“The world has a lot of chaos and tension at the moment … much of which anyone reading this can do nothing about. And yet, if each person reading this can do a form of meditation to calm their soul, it will help bring down the tension … if only the tension within oneself and one’s immediate circle of contacts. The only thing we can control is ourselves. And if you can calm oneself and others around you it actually impacts the world; we are all connected.”