If we each had a nickel for every time we heard someone say they wanted to eat healthier, we would all be rich. It’s a great idea and is truly necessary to maximize our lives and really, it looks easy – just buy the right things. So why do we fail? Why is eating healthy a constant challenge for some?
As usual there is not just one answer. So let’s take a brief look at a few possible reasons, in hopes you can be gentle on yourself and move forward confidently in whatever direction you choose to take.
First, we are bombarded with images of food – every day, all day. You cannot go anywhere, watch, listen or read anything without food popping up. So it rarely has time to leave your attention with its not so subtle, yet always available messages.
Second, unfortunately a lot of times we are being lied to. All of those adds “sell” us on an experience they tell us we should want to have and will achieve by eating their foods, going to their locations etc., Once we are in the door, we rarely leave without eating.
Third, the vast majority of the foods out there, have some genetic modifications that can either hurt or addict us, or both ! They intentionally put substances or create chemical reactions in food to addict us to them, just like they do with cigarettes. How is that fair? Simply eating that first chip, makes you need the second and so on. Sounds the same as cocaine and other drugs to me. How is this even legal?
Fourth, the food industry has created the diet industry. So they actually own both sides of the market as part of their bigger plan to have more revenue. Don’t just take my word for it there are plenty of articles on how the diet industry was actually started. So it is in their best interests financially to have us gain weight and then want to lose it. Double revenue for them. Even more if they can have us stuck in this cycle of gain and loss.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Making healthy food choices is going to be work in this day and age.
Let’s start with a few honest pieces of knowledge and hopefully a few easy steps.
Our first relationship is all about food – for survival. We are born with the ability to know when we are hungry & when we are full. Try to get a baby to eat when they don’t want to or get them to stop crying when they are hungry !
Somewhere along the lines a timeline changed that “instinct & knowing”, so we could attend school and achieve some sort of maintainable structure and schedule. This isn’t anybody’s fault, it is simply how our society runs – no more, no less. But the point is, that somewhere along the line we may have lost the natural ability to “listen & know” when we are hungry,what for and how much. So instead fall prey to the constant bombardment of external influences that make the decisions for us, tell us when we are hungry, for what and how much it will take to satisfy us. Plain and simple, they took the need for us to think about our eating away.
We need to learn how to get back to that place of thinking about what we eat, how much we eat, when and why. We need to learn to listen to ourselves, without the external influences of addicting substances and suggestions.
Luckily for us, learning about eating /hunger is probably the easiest – as we have a few senses involved – from feeling our stomachs when they are empty to hearing it growl. That natural re-set is probably the easiest place to start and respond to.
Next comes the understanding that our relationship with food is probably one of the longest relationships we will ever have. Growing up, one of our first personal decisions became about what we wanted to eat, what we would say yes and no to. One of our first steps to independence was learning to feed ourselves.
Now the challenging piece – food is and was, the first socially acceptable “substance” we had or were given access to. From being given a cookie to keep quiet as mom was on the phone, to associating good times only come with food i.e.: birthday parties. So when we want to self soothe – we eat. When we want to feel good like we do at a party, we eat. We need to eat to live, but society changes that into we live to eat.
We cannot change society or the food industry, all we can change is ourselves. Understanding a few pieces above, hopefully can help give some insight as to how we are so attached to food and how the food industry is invested in us as a financial resource, not as a healthy individual.
Our addiction to the foods / experiences they promise us – in combination with our own need to soothe, fit in, avoid etc., can all be overcome with knowledge and awareness, and baby steps.
We all know that eating chips, chocolate and cake every day for every meal isn’t a good thing. We aren’t stupid. But we are being manipulated by advertising and media. So our second step is to not believe everything we see, read and hear.
By learning to listen to your body, taking a moment to be mindful and think about what you as a person truly wants – you are on your way to success.
We also need to learn other coping mechanisms for stress instead of eating, but that will come later in another post, as this one is long enough for now. Baby steps…we’re in this for the long haul…