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10 Non-Nutritional Roles That Food Plays In Your Life

Food can be used as a reward, or as a creative expression. It can also be an expression of comfort, security and belongingness. Here are several other reasons to eat healthy and cultural food at all times.

10 Non-Nutritional Roles That Food Plays In Your Life

Food can be a symbol of one's wealth and status


  1. Food can be used to express your friendliness and hospitality
  2. Food is used as part of social and religous rites
  3. Food can be used as means to relieve tension and boredome

It is well said that "One cannot think well, love well, and sleep well, if one has not dined well". The food that we eat performs various functions, including nutritional or non-nutritional. It provides energy to do work and activities, satisfy our hunger, and of course provide us with all essential nutrients for growth, development and maintenance. Rate of growth of the human body varies in the different phases in life, and hence the food requirements also vary. Nutritional role of food, also called as physiological roles includes body growth and development, repair or maintenance of body tissues, regulation of body processes, protection against infections and promotional of optimal health.

Food has multiple other functions as well. They can majorly be categorised into socio-cultural, Psychological, and Political. 

Here are the different roles that the food plays in your life.

1. Promotion of friendliness / hospitality: Food acts as a reflection of social warmth and build inter personal relationships. Special meals are also prepared by loved ones like mothers to demonstrate their love for their children

2. Gesture of love when given as gift: It is commonly given in form of gifts to relatives and near and dear ones and considered as a good gesture when given on festival and on different occasions like marriages, birthdays etc. It hence strengthens the social bond.

3. Food as means creative expression: Food art, food photography, serving styles and food blogging now a days are a means of demonstration of creativity. Presentation of food in different type of ways are considered classic these days.

4. Food as a symbol of wealth or status: Dried fruits, fruits, chocolates, milk and milk products are considered high value products as they are high in price and symbolise wealth. On the contrary millets, vegetables are considered as neglected foods and have low prestige value.

5. Expression of comfort, security and belongingness: The staple food fosters as a sense of security among people, especially during crises. During war, strife or drought situations, people accept familiar food readily.

6. As a means to relieve tension and boredom: We all agree to this, it is a source of immense enjoyment, many a times we treat our friends or loved ones to special foods if there is any special occasion. Culture of various cafe, bar and restaurants have promoted this concept a lot now a days especially in urban areas.

7. Food as a reward: It is always given as a reward to kids who do well in studies or for being well mannered, chocolates and sweets are mostly offered. Food can also be used as a means of punishment, by withholding the food that is liked the most, or forced feeding the food that is not preferred.

8. As a part of religious and social rites: Food as a Prasad is distributed since ages. Laddo, Halwa, Banana and Coconut are few food items which are distributed widely and considered auspicious. It is also used as a visible offering of sympathy and to honour the dead.

9. Control of food supply and food process as a means of exerting political control: Politics always revolves around food. Instances of rise in Onion and Tomato prices; also involvement in policies related to food industries have been used in political scenario to build or shatter the empire. Food is also used as a method of protest by leaders, like Gandhiji's salt satyagraha, political leaders also consider fast as a method of showing protest.

10. Food type preparation methods and dietary rules as a means of expressing cultural identity: Gujiya during Holi, Cake with Christmas, Sevia (Vermicelli) in Id -ul - Fitr, Pedas with janamashtmi reflect the cultural identity of members of society.

(Vandita Jain is Delhi-based nutritionist and Diabetes educator)

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