Hint: It’s not because you’re a bad person
All of these have a part to play, but I think ultimately everything boils down to the same thing.*
THE WALMART GUY I read a story a few weeks ago about a man who lost an incredible amount of weight with only a few small changes. Here’s what he did: He threw out all the junk food and ready-meals he had at home, then he walked to the grocery store before each meal to buy the ingredients and make the meal.
Here’s why it worked so well. There was no food at home. None. If he wanted to eat, he had to go and get it and make it. Where previously by default he’d just open the fridge or freezer and pick out the food that required the least effort, he’d now removed that convenience from his house.
THE NUMBER ONE REASON: As humans we’re driven by convenience. If faced with two options, we’re most likely to use the one that requires the least effort or takes the least time. This makes sense. It’s more efficient after all. The problem is that we default to convenience all the time, even when convenient isn’t better.
Think about it. We know which foods are bad for us. Tons and tons of research has told us that. We’re intelligent enough to know that. But when it comes down to it, we’re far more likely to choose the easier option than the healthier option. For example: If I’m hungry and I go into a grocery store, I pick a chocolate bar instead of strawberries. I know the fruit would be better for me, but the fact that I’d have to check if the strawberries were all good, then wash them, and then find somewhere to dispose of the little leaves makes me weary of doing so. I pick the more straightforward option.
The same thing happens when it comes to the ever-present morning workout struggle. It’s warm in bed, and bed is comfortable, making staying in bed way more convenient than getting out into a cold room, getting dressed and going for a workout. So we pick the more convenient option.
If convenience make you eat poorly, it can help you eat better too.
Our Performance Marketing Manager Clemence always brings boiled eggs to the office, and keeps a pack of almonds on her desk. This means if the 3pm energy dip hits, she by default chooses the nuts or the eggs, because they’re more convenient than her making the 5-minute pilgrimage to the 7eleven to buy something else. She’s made healthy food the most convenient choice.
James Clear puts it like this, ‘When you’re surrounded by better choices, it’s a lot easier to make a good one.’
Want to eat better? Change your environment. Carry fruit in your bag, buy your groceries online so you’re less tempted to buy candy because it’s ‘there’; only buy whole foods. Making sure your default options are healthy ones is the key to eating better.
/Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out
*I realise that this isn’t a solution for deeper issues, but generally speaking, even if our eating is triggered by a disorder, having the right foods around can act as a buffer for eating badly.
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