NASM CNC Chapter 4: Food Preferences and Influences
NASM CNC Chapter 4: Food Preferences and Influences 5

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Chapter Goals:

  • Explain what nutritional intake effects have on someone’s health.
  • Find the roles of dietary habits in overall health.
  • Find social and environmental influences on dietary patterns.
  • Describe the factors of dietary patterns.
  • Know what dangers and limitations exist in a “one diet fits all” approach.

Defining Health and Disease

The W.H.O. defines health as a state in which you have complete mental, social, and physical wellbeing, and not just the absences of diseases or infirmities. 

Health is not a static condition, instead it is a condition that is always changing. The goal of the body is to keep us in the state of homeostasis, which is a relatively stable equilibrium between the interdependent elements. 


It is generally thought that disease is the exact opposite of the definition of health, but it is too simple when put that way. Disease generally can be put as an abnormal condition where you are negatively affected in your structure or function of some or all of the body. 

Diseases can be one of two types:

  • Non-communicable diseases are one that are a medical condition or disease that has been caused by some infectious agent. This may be a chronic disease lasting for a long time and progressing slowly.
  • Communicable diseases are the other type, and these are infectious diseases that are caused by some micro-organism like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi spread from person to person.


This covers many life components that lead to some better form of health and wellbeing. There are six components of wellness.

Emotional wellness is the inspiration of some inner calm, relaxation, and also inner strength. This practice tells us to stay positive, smile, and learn from our mistakes as we go. Life is full of peaks and valleys and we should know it won’t always be perfect.

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Occupational wellness of course relates to one’s job and career and the many opportunities we have throughout our lifetime. Value, personal enjoyment, and a sense of purpose all are factors leading us to a higher level of occupational wellness.

Physical wellness is one of the simpler ones we understand as coaches. It is a sense of respect and responsibility we have for the care of our own bodies. This promotes a sense of optimal health and physical functioning throughout our life. Maintaining optimum physical wellness leads us to better health.

Social wellness relates to your ability for finding and maintaining relationships with other people. Isolating ourselves will lead to negativity, but robust social living leads us to a more positive outlook.

Intellectual wellness tells people to not stop learning. It also involves being creative and mentally stimulating yourself with certain activities throughout life. 

Spiritual wellness is one of the lesser known or understood components. This is not just being a part of some religion, but it is finding meaning and having personal faith that makes you feel like you belong and are at peace with yourself.

The Role of Diet in Chronic Disease

The association between diet and having disease is well known and studied. Diet is one of the biggest influencers of chronic disease conditions.


Around 40 percent of adults in America were obese in 2016. This is around 93 million people. The conditions that are often related to being obese are things such as stroke, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. These are all preventable diseases that may lead to premature death. 

These are some of the conclusions made in the scientific community regarding diet patterns and the relationship with being overweight:

There is a direct link in diet, obesity, and someone’s BMI.

Studies have shown balanced diets to be associated with significantly lower rates of obesity and being overweight. 

The risks for developing obesity is the highest for people that eat too many saturated fats and total calories.

The higher caloric intakes each day paired with lower expenditures of energy is related directly with being overweight or obese.

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Changes in dietary habits can play a large role in reversing obesity.

Heart Disease

Diet is a modifiable risk factor for CAD. By changing your diet alone, you can significantly change the risk for heart disease. Some of the heart healthy recommendations we have for people are:

  • Watch the size of your portions.
  • Try to take in more fruits and veggies.
  • Take in more whole grains.
  • Put a limit on the amount of unhealthy fats you take in. 
  • Opt for eating more low-fat proteins.
  • Lower your sodium intake below 1,500 mg.
  • Plan your meals in advance.
  • Treat yourself sometimes, but not too often. 


Many years of research have shown the relationship in diet and its influence on cancer risk. These guidelines should be followed:

  • Eating foods that are high in their antioxidants.
  • Taking in foods lower on the glycemic index.
  • Eating more dietary calcium.
  • Keeping your BMI low.


The strongest correlation made is the correlation between diet and diabetes. The biggest risk factor for diabetes is going to be obesity, which is directly related to diet also. 

Food Choices

Choosing your foods is a complex process that occurs over a long time throughout your life. And this is influenced by many variables that we will discuss.

Socio-Cultural Factors

This includes the society we grow up in or exist in, and the culture we are exposed to. The eating, preparation, and serving of food is often times a very complex social and personal experience. 

The culture we are in influences our health, nutrition, and long term risks we may develop. Cultures could have income inequality, a limit to the access to foods, habits for exercise, and some rapid changes in cultural shifts. These all impact our diets and health.


Our habits change throughout our lifetime, so as we age, we change a lot. Our metabolism lessens throughout life, and we expend less energy as a result. Thus, we actually need fewer calories on a day to day basis as we get older. We should adjust our diets to correspond with this, but many people never do.

It is quite common for older people to have really poor diets due to economic factors, or the loss of a spouse. They tend to eat much less than they should late in life, and this is something that restricts abilities to get the proper nutrition, which is still vitally important.

Economic Status

This likely plays the largest role of all of the factors. There is a lot of research done to see how the economic status’ people have changes their consumption of foods. For example, people who live in poverty often have very poor eating habits, simply due to them just trying to survive and make it. So, all in all, there is a direct link to low socioeconomic status and risk for developing chronic diseases.

Geographical and Seasonal Availability

Another obvious limit to the foods we can get would be what is available to us based on the season we are in and our geography. Many stores base there foods obviously on what is available easily and locally first.

Some grocery stores these days actually have apps for home delivery and things, thus reducing the time it takes and making more convenient for the users.  

Biological Influences

Choices and preferences in foods are dependent highly on your own complex structure. Hunger, appetite, and taste are the driving forces for regulating your choices in foods, and they relate to the complexities of yourself biologically, neuro-chemically, and physiologically. 

Sensory Stimuli

Our appetite may be triggered through our thoughts, moods, how close food is to us, the smells, sights, and then through emotions. The sensory experience we get when we are eating adds to the determination of food intake also. 

The location, past experiences, tastes, smells, and texture will determine how much, and how often we consume food.

NASM CNC Chapter 4: Food Preferences and Influences 6
NASM CNC Chapter 4: Food Preferences and Influences 7
NASM CNC Chapter 4: Food Preferences and Influences 8

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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2 thoughts on “NASM CNC Chapter 4: Food Preferences and Influences”

  1. PTPioneer User

    I love your study guides. It would be so nice to have a quiz at the end of each one. I’m trying to enter the field and I thought PT was what I wanted and still do but my heart keeps taking me to the food. Anyway, thanks for your study guides.

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