In most countries, civilization has brought enough food that we are not a situation of caloric deficit, like our ancestors were for the most part. When they hunted an animal they had food in high quantity for a while, then until the next capture, they would have to skip the proteins and much of the fats. This lifestyle meant two things. We evolved from intermittent fasting: times of eating a bit more, times of eating a bit less. Also, food came directly from nature. It was not processed.
From knowing to doing
Now compare to today’s common lifestyle: processed foods available and affordable to all, taken on a constant basis. Eating what you want can represent many things. But how many times do we tell ourselves we’ll eat a certain way and end up picking something different instead?
If, after consulting with a specialist, you put together a plan, how to turn this goal into a habit? In this post we take the examples of seeds and nuts, as well as vegetables. They may or may not be the foods we need, we use these for illustration purposes.
Putting your target foods in plain sight and easy access
Let’s make the thought experiment that we’d want to replace highly processed foods with something more wholesome, like nuts.
I was recently passing in front of our kitchen, where we have a storage area with raw nuts and grains: almonds, pecan nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, dry coconut, all visible as you pass by. Some are in a closed container, easy to open, others in their plastic packaging, semi-open.
When we pass through the kitchen, it’s common the kids or I feel hungry at snack times. It can be when we’re back from doing sports, or for other reasons. These nuts are the easiest thing to eat: nothing to open, nowhere to go to get them, nothing to cook. We pick a handful of whichever ones we feel like eating, in whichever reasonable quantity. That’s all.
Now, if instead we had very sugary products, chips or other items, they would be in plain sight as well. Our eyes would come in contact with them. We’d be tempted to eat a few of these, maybe a lot. The proximity factor and ease of access within your home makes a difference. Once you know what you’d like to eat more of, and less of, you can organize for this.
How store purchases influence what we eat
Before re-arranging food shelves, something happens: we go to the grocery store and make the decision to put certain ingredients and products inside the shopping cart. This is central: whether this process occurs in a physical store on online by clicking a few buttons, we’re bringing these foods from far away, to right near us, inside our home.
Let these foods be those you want. How many times do we buy things, then have them at home, and think “they’re here. I have to use these ingredients or products for something before they go bad“. Most people don’t like throwing away what they buy. It’s the rational side of us thinking. But if upstream, we can’t close the knowing-doing (=shopping) gap, we may end up with things we know we should eat less of.
I believe that if you keep foods you don’t want at the grocery, or wherever they are now, and don’t let them take a spot inside your home storage, you won’t be tempted.
Taking greens as an example, vegetables can be kept for a few days and are best used when fresh. They look and taste so much better. You put them in your cart, and now they are in front of you.
Let’s cook something now?