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What Influences Our Food & Beverage Choices?

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND

Because I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), my family and friends often assume I’ll always choose the healthiest menu items when dining at a restaurant. But like most people, my food and beverage choices are based on many factors, including my mood and who I’m eating with that day. What I choose when I’m grabbing a quick bite at an airport is quite different from what I’ll order when my husband and I are out for date night.

Research from Datassential, a Chicago-based market research company, shows there are many different reasons people make certain restaurant and food choices, including how much time or money they want to spend, where they want to eat (e.g., in the car, at the restaurant, at home), whether they need a quick bite or they want to linger over a meal, and how they want to feel after eating (e.g., energized, relaxed, happy).

As a nutrition professional, of course I want people to make the “best” choice, but I also respect the fact that the “best” choice may be based on a number of factors. My goal is to help people feel good about their food and beverage choices, and to help them find balance.

Remember, the key to a healthy diet isn’t what you choose at a specific time or place; it’s based on the overall dietary pattern and lifestyle you create for yourself. On that note, I’m grabbing a diet soda and going for a short walk!


Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, is an award-winning dietitian, farmer’s daughter, public speaker, author, and president of Farmer’s Daughter® Consulting, Inc., an agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm.Amy is also an advisory partner to the Food and Beverage Industry.

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