Eating Habits and Critical Thinking Skills of Grade 12 Stem Students

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Table of Contents

  • Background of the Study
  • Eating Habits
  • Critical Thinking
  • Conceptual Framework

Background of the Study

Poor eating habits concerns mostly students who experiencing stress and lack of time. These factors post a barrier against adoption of healthy behaviours, such as poor eating habits and substance abuse. Although these behaviours are considered temporary, as part of a student’s life; it generally persist in older adult life. Skipping meals, not eating in exact time, eating away from home and snacking are just some common unhealthy eating patterns among young adults. They tend to choose their own food based on cost of food or availability of any fast food. They failed to meet the recommended intake if vegetables and fruits. They had frequent snacking habits and had a higher frequency of fast food consumption they lack knowledge of healthy food choices that may affect their health. The purpose of this study was to review existing literature about past research that highlighted studies concerning eating habits and its relationship to brain function, cognition, learning, and social behaviours. Studies have shown that proper nutrition has a direct effect on student performance and behaviour in school. Much of the studies we reviewed confirmed that nutrition has a direct effect on neurotransmitters which are important in sending messages from the body to the brain. Specific dietary components were shown to have negative effects on this system, many of which are commonplace in school-aged children’s daily eating.

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Food insufficiency has been shown to directly affect children’s cognitive development. Lacking sustenance influences students’ wellbeing and academic victory. Students may have capable information with respect to nutritional requirements. In any case, the move to college life gives them more freedom to select the sort and the amount of nourishment they eat. Most campuses have eating facilities that give a variety of nourishment choices, which can lead to building up either great or terrible eating behaviours. A unused consider appears that more than half of adolescent young ladies and one-third of boys utilized undesirable eating tendency like fasting, skipping dinners, or smoking more cigarettes to control their weight, and many proceeded these tendency through youthful adulthood. Progression in eat less quality between 1990 and 2010 in high-income countries, with modest belittlement of undesirable nourishments and expanded admissions of solid items. Be that as it may, people living in many of the wealthiest regions (eg, the USA and Canada, Western Europe, Australia and Zealand) still have among the poorest quality diets within the world, since they have a few of the most high utilization of undesirable nourishment around the world. In contrast, some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some countries in Asia (eg, China and India) have seen no improvement in their diet quality over the past 20 years.

Eating Habits

Individuals depend on nourishment for vitality and coming up short to day by day dietary request can take off enduring impact. Eating propensities alludes to what nourishment we eat, how we eat it and why we eat it. It is affected by social, cultural, religious, economic and environmental factors.

According to Rodrigues, et al. (2017), meal consumption and diet quality are important for healthy development during adolescence. Skipping meals was associated with a low-quality diet, especially concerning to the low consumption of fruits and vegetables and a high intake of calories from solid fats, added sugars, and alcoholic beverages. Therefore, the adoption of regular meal habits may help adolescents improve their diet quality. As a young adult, healthy eating habits help you conserve a healthy lifestyle. Making healthy food choices is harder than expected, because the majority of our food choices are based on pleasure. In fact, eating is such an enjoyable experience that we choose to eat food that taste good rather than eating food that make us feel good. We also enjoy food so much that we eat more than our bodies actually need that is why eating habits fall under these following categories: Emotional Eating. It is defined as eating in response to negative emotions (Cardi, et al. , 2015). It is the practice of consuming large quantities of food usually “comfort” or junk foods in reaction to sentiments rather than starvation. In addition, emotional eating can have distressing immediate effects by for example leading to feelings of guilt (Macht and Dettmer, 2008). This behaviour in eating is highly common and is significant since it can interfere with maintaining a healthy diet and contribute to obesity. Emotional hunger cannot be filled with food. Eating may feel good at the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And can often feel worse than it did before because of the unnecessary calories a person just consumed. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits a person in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent. Stress eating craves specific comfort foods. When a person is physically hungry, almost everything sounds good including healthy stuff like vegetables.

However, emotional hunger craves junk food or sugary snack that provides an instant rush. In addition, according to Michel et. al (2016) psychological stress can be a health threat by stimulating unhealthier eating behaviours. In the long run, when emotional eating happens frequently or becomes the main way a person deals with their emotions, then their life, health, happiness, and weight can be negatively affected. Lastly, it often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. People turn to food for comfort both consciously and unconsciously because food can be a distraction for someone that is facing problems. However, whatever emotions that drives a person to overeat, the end result will always be the same. Unconscious Eating. It is the act of eating very small amount of food throughout the day. These are so little that most people won’t even acknowledge them as part of their food intake, when in reality, at times; it should be classified as a cheat meal in itself. People think that it is just small that it wouldn’t amount to anything but each of those ‘bites’ could easily account for up to 50-100 calories per time. In addition to this, it’s setting an individual for a very bad habit.

According to Nikki Hart (2008), Unconscious eating is eating without thinking. It is the kind of thing that people do every day. She also stated that a person’s snacking habits start with being aware of the food choices and food consumptions. A reason why some people overeat is because their thoughts are elsewhere. People who dine with social interactions and television shows eat more than those people with no distractions. In addition, unconscious eating can also be classified as eating when a person is bored or eating for something to do. It can also be identified as consumption of food even if the person is not hungry. Numerous people without a doubt have a few dietary propensities. A few are not mindful of the environment when they eat. And others do not know what they are putting into their mouths, due to the increased amount of chemicals on foods going into grocery stores. Lastly, Dr. Brian Wansink, a food psychologist claims that people gain weight not because of the food choices but because of how a person eats.

Moreover, some scientists believed that one of the main reasons why people overeat is because people rely on outside rather than inside cues to decide if they feel hungry or full. Naturally, this can lead a person to eat more. Habitual Eating. According to Mike Barret (2011), habitual eating is caused by the environment. Eating out of pure habit is something many people experience without even realizing it. Someone may unknowingly get into the habit of mindless eating and then wonder where the few extra pounds came from. After a certain pattern is repeated so many times, that pattern becomes fixed in the brain and must be interrupted or at least notice in order for it to be broken. Habits are formed when stimulus-response overlaps the goal of the behaviour (Everitt and Robins, 2016) an example of which is the palatable food. A study showed that when making a change in nutritional habits, often the hardest part is breaking a person’s old habit. Moreover, if the person has a constant eating habit, he/she no longer cares of what will the food tastes like. Critical Eating. It is a trait of individuals developing a pathological obsession and preoccupation with healthy foods and a restrictive and avoidant eating behaviour (Missbach, 2015). Critical eating is the practice of engaging with one’s food throughout the process that brings it to and through one’s body. Critical eating is a process of knowing the food they take where the person is conscious in her/his eating. It means thinking about what you put in your body. Critical eating is a way to be more aware in eating where a person is aware of the food consumption. Critical eating is a quick evaluation and adjustment on any point of eating before, during or after any meal the person takes. The critical eater tends to be either 100 percent committed on its diet or off diet causing an effect in terms of weight loss and weight gain.

According to Margaret Churchill (2016), critical eating is a practice of regular self-observation because it is the great way to improve the person’s conscious eating skills and reduce your risk of self-sabotage. To sum up, critical eating is a case of mindfulness to eating where the person simply observes the food that they consume. It is obviously focusing on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting the person’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Sensual Eating. It is a process of engaging all of our senses which is sight, smell and taste (Gravotta, 2016). It asks us to prepare and present our food so that we can look at it with lust. Sensual eating is anti-rush, anti-quantity, anti-unconsciousness, and anti-food-as-a-replacement-for-love. Sensual eating is a pro-slow, pro-quality, pro-consciousness, pro-food-as-nourishment-for-body-and-mind. Moreover, sensual eating is simple but powerful. Sensual eating can prevent bloated stomach, digestive problems and even binge eating. The more a person starts to engage with eating as a sensual experience the more the person satisfied his or her food that lead to making more healthy choices. It also helps to appreciate the flavours of the food of every individual where flavours are combination of taste and smell. Sensual eating is a process to enhance the feeling of fullness in eating. It is a process where the thought, sight and smell of food stimulates gastric secretions to prepare for the digestion of food even before the individual taken his/her first bite where the pleasure of eating is derived from this anticipation. In addition, sensual eating is important in every individual because it is a process of having awareness and presence in each meal. It shows that the less an individual wants to eat and the less awareness and presence an individual bring to each meal, the more the person needs to eat. Lastly, sensual eating had the ability to change the digestive power or every person. It can decrease nutrient absorption and slowing down person's metabolism. Sensual eating can change the information or perspective of a human person where it craves the full sensual experience of eating.

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking is a practical and scientific method of thinking. This method enables people to evaluate and assess information in a new way, allowing for better and quicker decision making. Critical Thinking is a skill to curb our natural tendency to make assumptions. It also helps to prevent people from accepting new information as truth too quickly and helps people recognise and prevent fallacies in advance. Critical thinking allows both individuals and organisations to demonstrably think in a better and more structured way, and makes it easier to assess and evaluate complex information. It is helpful for strategic thinking, problem solving, making better use of intuition, learning to evaluate better, and recognising the essence of things. It reduces information to a clear and accurate source. Willingham (2008) stated that the goal of schooling is to enable students to think critically. He also added that inn layperson’s terms, critical thinking consists of seeing both sides of an issue, being open to new evidence that disconfirms your ideas, reasoning dispassionately, demanding that claims be backed by evidence, deducing and inferring conclusions from available facts, solving problems, and so forth. Reeder (2011) stated that understanding concepts appears to be more of a point on a continuum rather than the final destination for the students’ overall learning. Connecting to the material and fully grasping the meanings behind the actions of historical figures, the events which transpired for explorers to discover new worlds, the message from an author, or how figures in math are always the same allows the student to have a deeper understanding of the material and a richer experience. Savich (2009) takes it a step further and states that having different viewpoints on the same situation provides valuable critical thinking strategies to students. They are able to use those view points to decipher the plausible from the implausible. Educators have long been aware of the importance of critical thinking skills as an outcome of student learning.

More recently, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills has identified critical thinking as one of several learning and innovation skills necessary to prepare students for their post-secondary education and the workforce. In addition, the newly created Common Core State Standards reflect critical thinking as a cross-disciplinary skill vital for college and employment. Despite widespread recognition of its importance, there is a notable lack of consensus regarding the definition of critical thinking. Inferences. Refers to mental process by which we reach a conclusion based on specific evidence. Schulten (2015) stated that we learn about some things by experiencing them first-hand, but we gain other knowledge by inference — the process of inferring things based on what is already known. She also added that when we make an inference, we’re reading between the lines or just looking carefully at the facts and coming to conclusions. In addition to this, Wallis (2017) stated that inferences take two general forms; some inferences create information previously unavailable to the person (induction), while other inferences make inexplicit information explicit and available for use (deduction). They are also somewhat misunderstood terms. Arguments based on experience or observations are best expressed inductively, while arguments based on laws or rules are best expressed deductively. Most arguments are mainly inductive. In fact, inductive reasoning usually comes much more naturally to us than deductive reasoning. Moreover, Inferences are conclusions every individual come to. It's what the mind does in figuring something out. People make inferences every day (Paul & Elder, 2009). Assumption. Is simply an unstated premise of the argument; that is, an integral component of the argument that the author takes for granted and leaves unsaid. Killoran (2009) stated that Assumption questions are the most difficult type of critical reasoning problem. Because an assumption is an integral component of the author’s argument, pieces that must be true in order for the conclusion to be true, assumptions are necessary for the conclusion.

Hence, the answer you select as correct must contain a statement that the author relies upon and is fully committed to in the argument. People make hundreds of assumptions without knowing it---without thinking about it. Many assumptions are sound and justifiable. Many, however, are not (Paul and Elder, 2018). They also stated that we, as humans, we continually make assumptions about ourselves, our jobs, our mates, our students, our children, and the world in general. We take some things for granted simply because we can’t question everything. Sometimes we take the wrong things for granted. According to Davies (2013), he stated that people are good at quickly connecting the dots; people draw meaning from incomplete information, and move forward based on the interpretation they’ve made. That is how assumptions are formed. People are in a constant state of anticipation, scanning and filling in the missing pieces. In line with this, Ellis (2014) stated that assumptions can be classified into explicit, implicit, and background types. Explicit assumptions are those with accurate information of a given statement or it is directly stated while Implicit Assumptions are not stated, but nevertheless must be true for the conclusion to be true. And lastly is the Background Assumption, the statement has to be correct for the conclusion to be correct, but it doesn’t play a direct role in the reasoning. Rather, it is taken for granted. In addition, Blick (2017) stated that instead of making assumptions, try using this method: asking, even if this means finding out a truth that might be painful to hear. People will manage to release much of their past pain by not activating it constantly. People will also grow a lot from all the information they’ve gathered through asking questions. Arguments. A crucial part of critical thinking is to identify, construct, and evaluate arguments.

In everyday life, people often use "argument" to mean a quarrel between people. But in logic and critical thinking, an argument is a list of statements, one of which is the conclusion and the others are the premises or assumptions of the argument. According to Fall (2010), he stated that the first stage in critical thinking is argument identification. Given that some of what people say and do is not argumentative, one must be able to distinguish the arguments from other types of expression. This reveals the fact that in certain situations, so called argument contexts, every individual can expect an argument, whereas in other situations people might be surprised to find an argument. Knowing the argument contexts puts every individual ahead of the game as a critical thinker. It puts on every individual on their guard, inclining people to take care so as not to be taken in by an argument that is not really compelling. In line with this, the practice of argumentation consists of two dimensions: dialogue and structure.

The dialogue in argumentative discussions focus on specific speech acts and actions done through language (accept, reject and etc. ) that help advance the speaker’s position. The structure of an argument helps distinguish the different perspectives in discussion and highlight positions for which speakers are arguing (Kuhn, et al. , 2014). Hornikx & Hahn (2012) stated that there are stages in argumentation. The psychological process of argumentation that allows one to have it is the produce, analyze and evaluate arguments. The first stage is production, it tells us how one produces reasons for a standpoint, opinion or assertion. The second stage is the analysis; it is assessing the validity of proposed arguments. And lastly, the evaluation, it is exploring the different views of an argument. In addition, Hatcher (2014) stated that argument has also 4 building blocks namely: premise, conclusion, background and counterpoint. Premise supports the author’s conclusion while Conclusion represents the author’s main opinion or claim. Background provides context to help understand the core. And lastly, counterpoint, opposes or goes against the author’s conclusion in some way. Interpreting Information. Interpretation is the process of discovering, determining, or assigning meaning. Interpretation skills can be applied to anything, e. g. written messages, charts, diagrams, maps, graphs, and verbal and non-verbal exchanges. People apply their interpretive skills to behaviours, events, and social interactions when deciding what they think something means in a given context.

According to Meegan (2017), an Interpretation is an inference from a specific point of view. Two people might have the same facts, but with different points of view, they may each come to a different solution to the problem. in line with this, Bao Gang (2014) stated that there are three kinds of memories in human being's information processing system, known as sensory store (perception), short term store (working memory) and long term store (permanent memory) Among these three kinds of memories, working memory plays an important part in our work especially in interpreting, but short memory is severely limited in size, it can only hold approximately seven plus or minus two information units. According to Gile's Effort Model (a Processing Capacity Account), short-term memory is an essential part in the process of interpreting. Interpreting consists of presenting in the target language; the exact meaning of what is uttered in the source language either simultaneously or consecutively, preserving the tone of the speaker. Psychological studies of human memory make a distinction between Short-Term Memory (STM) and Long-Term Memory (LTM). The idea of short-term memory simply means that you are retaining information for a short period of time without creating the neural mechanisms for later recall. Long-Term Memory occurs when you have created neural pathways for storing ideas and information which can then be recalled weeks, months, or even years later.

Conceptual Framework

The Eating habits contained five indicators namely: Emotional Eating which is defined as eating in response to negative emotions (Cardi, et al. , 2015), Unconscious Eating that means eating without thinking (Hart, 2008), Habitual Eating, Critical Eating is a restrictive and avoidant eating behaviour (Missbach, 2015), and Sensual Eating is a process of engaging all of our senses (Gravotta, 2016). The Critical Thinking Skills also contained four indicators namely: Inferences, Assumptions, Interpreting information, Arguments.

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