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Definitions of leisure have always triggered numerous debates on whether to allow food to form part of it, or not. However, a consensus has often been reached indicating the ways to approach this issue, with most propositions aimed to view leisure as time, as an activity, and as a state of mind (Chen 2009, p. 45). In the modern day lifestyle, the scope of leisure activity has been extended to include food with majority of the people increasingly finding it to be a new form of leisure (Chen 2009, p. 45).
The problem, however, is that this popular leisure activity is often accompanied by unhealthy food traps and eating habits. This phenomenon, according to Chen (2009, p. 46), is brought about by the influx and abundance of contemporary foodstuffs widely viewed to be associated with social class such as chips, nachos, dips, cocktails and even beer.
Most people, who indulge in drinking especially beer, often take various brands in a single encounter. Heavy episodic drinking has been identified as a modern epithet for the consumption of alcoholic beverages entirely for the reason of being intoxicated within the shortest time possible (Carraher, Parnell & Spillan 2009, p. 260). According to Carraher, Parnell and Spillan (2009, p. 264), research indicates that this drinking spree is increasingly becoming popular among the youths, and it sometimes overlaps with social drinking given that it has always been done in groups or among peers. Research has noted that with this kind or drinking, normally, the level of intoxication varies depending on the cultural orientation of the various groups (Edosomwan et al. 2011, p. 75).
Another factor that has influenced food as a popular leisure activity is the media industry, for example, they promote mindless eating, as one remains focused on the screens. Watching such movies often distract viewers such that individuals may not pay attention to the amount of food they consume (Edosomwan et al. 2011, p. 75). Essentially, this can be a big problem considering that large documentaries spanning for durations of three to four hours could, consequently, turn into hours of active eating. In addition, television food advertising has brought a lot of food preferences popular, especially among the children and women.
The logic behind this insinuation is that television viewership has the ability to establish strong bonds of poor eating or feeding habits that put the children on the verge of obesity. At the same time, poor eating makes them more prone to chronic illness associated with overweight and obese, such as diabetes, insomnia as well as heart and blood disorders (Edosomwan et al. 2011, p. 75). Research holds that people who like spending much of their time before the screen are less likely to engage in physical activities that can burn-off the calories to keep them in a healthy condition (Edosomwan et al. 2011, p. 77).
Eating out has greatly impacted on food leisure with majority of the people currently viewing any outing occasion as an eating drive. Inagami et al. (2006, p. 16), for example, argue that barely one mozzarella contains over 200 calories, 22 grams of fat, and other fatty and sugary elements while it is supplied by few nutrients. The modern lifestyle is characterized by eating so often during the day, and most people tend to prefer having a lot of sugary and fatty snacks prior to a happy hour (Turley & Milliman 2000, p. 195). Recreational activities such as sports and ball games, often passes out as occasions of merry-making with many people aiming to have a bite at the cherry. Unfortunately, for most people, this kind of eating disorder turns into a haunting habit that has occasioned the rise of food leisure.
The Beach Experience
A day out at the beach has the likelihood of leaving individuals totally dehydrated and overheated giving most people the feeling to quench their thirst. The beach lifestyle has often driven most people to have the feel for sugary foods such as ice cream. Gordon-Larsen et al. (2003, p. 418) confirm that a single scoop of ice cream contains nearly 300 calories with 32 grams of fat, and normally consumers take more than two scoops. This trend, according to Sorensen et al. (2003, p. 1152), is on the rise, and has been viewed as a major contributor to the increasing rise of health concerns related with the food leisure. The increased wave of globalization has been documented to be having a strong influence in changing the lifestyles, including the feeding habits of populations, especially in much of the developing world (Gordon-Larsen et al. 2003, p. 418).
With the progress in the food production industry, there has been an influx of canned foods, as well as the proliferation of modern type food preservation methods such as refrigeration, packaging and freezing which has necessitated leisure food consumption (Gordon-Larsen et al. 2003, p. 418).
Cooking, reading about food
Naturally, cooking and reading about food has often escalated individuals’ desires about the foods that they cook and read about (Sorensen et al. 2003, p. 1153). According to Turley and Milliman (2000, p. 196), palatability of food has always been researched and found to be proportional to the pleasure that individuals normally experience when cooking or reading about a particular type of food. This observation, according to Sorensen et al. (2003, p. 1154), is dependent upon the sensory factors that accompany the perception of such foods such as taste, texture, smell, appearance, shape and colour. Most often, sweets and fatty foods bring to readers and cooks insatiable sensory appeal (Sorensen et al. 2003, p. 1155). Under these considerations, food could be regarded not only as a source of leisure, but also as a constituent of pleasure, thus making food to be viewed as a leisure activity (Sorensen et al. 2003, p. 1158).
The influence of preferences of partialities on appetite among individuals has been studied in various areas including the influence of books, which have shown to be having great impacts in moulding appetites of individuals (Sorensen et al. 2003, p. 1155). Studies indicate that as the readership of such literary works continues to engulf an individuals’ imagination, and so does the appetite (Sorensen et al. 2003, p. 1155). The increasing food variety among individuals who cook various foods also increases the urge and intake of those foodstuffs, which in the end turn into habits characteristic of leisure activity (Sorensen et al. 2003 p. 1155).
Reflections as a hospitality practitioner
Practitioners in the hospitality industry should be responsible in order to offer advisory counselling to various individuals with different food leisure problems (Paridon & Carraher 2009, p. 23). This means that they should be in a position to offer their clients with an in-depth understanding of various foods that they serve, as well as the amounts that should be taken in a single intake (Paridon & Carraher 2009, p. 23). Hospitality practitioners, according to Paridon and Carraher (2009, p. 23), should be able to understand their clients’ needs in order to offer appropriate advisories, especially on the dangers associated with eating excessively some certain types of foods. Food types that are largely viewed to be associated with leisure by their nature should be priced highly so that their consumption can be limited (Turley & Milliman 2000, p. 196).
Alcoholic drinks such as beer and spirits should be limited to a particular age-group, and minors should be completely apprehended from illicit consumption. As a hospitality practitioner, taking time to influence customers to make healthy eating choices is likely to make most people very conscious of their feeding habits (Paridon & Carraher 2009, p. 24).
The perceived scarcity of time for leisure activities, the desire to attend to many activities than the available time, and the increasing need to plan all the days into a working calendar, have often triggered the idea of food becoming a leisure activity. This is because either much of the things done are undertaken while seated, or on journeys to some functions. The result of this phenomenon has been the unprecedented eating that has characterized the modern day lifestyles. With the increasing inclusion of food as a leisure activity, health practitioners have to come up with solid reasons to convince people to eliminate or control them in the leisure times.
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