Did you know the average person makes over 200 decisions regarding food and beverages each day? From where to eat, to plating, to the actual meal, the options seem effortlessly endless. With so many possibilities, what actually influences the final food preference? Despite the rooted need to nourish the body, environment has a tremendous role in health decisions. Creating healthy eating habits and a healthy eating environment, wherever you may be, can create a healthier you.
In Your Home
The ultimate environmental control is right at your doorstep. The majority of the time, you decide what food enters the door and what food does not. Supplying the fridge and pantry with nutritious foods helps eliminate unconscious, poor health choices. Unfortunately, sustaining an ideal, healthful environmental oftentimes only occurs in a perfect world. Since the world is not perfect, there are easy ways to create a healthy eating environment despite cookies in the pantry.
First and foremost, eat all meals and snacks at a designated eating table. Eating on the couch with the television on leads to more mindless eating, thus more food and calorie consumption. When contemplating a snack or somehow winding up in the kitchen, truly identify if it is hunger or boredom you are experiencing.
When it comes to meals, try to make it into a family affair. Leave all phones and other electronic devices behind and hone in on quality conversation and the meal. The concept of not wasting food has been ingrained in our minds at an early age. However, eating everything on the plate until clean has some backlash as it can diminish the body to practice hunger and satiety (AKA "I'm full") cues. Filling the plate full of veggies and using smaller plates can decrease the opportunity of overeating and encourage listening to those cues during mealtimes.
Kudos to those coworkers who genuinely care about their work family. To bringing coffee and donuts to the morning meeting to baking cupcakes for an employee's birthday, escaping that boxed-in feeling with the sweet treats can be tough. Although you can certainly enjoy those bakery items every now and then, gravitating towards them each time may keep the pants slightly snug.
Help shift a healthier work environment by replacing the candy dish with fresh fruit. At the next work meeting, bring in a veggie tray with a hummus variety to try. Keeping healthy snacks at your own desk or area is a beneficial practice. Portioned and individualized Greek yogurts, trail mix, and apples and peanut butter are just a few snacks filled with an abundance of nutrients.
Whether traveling to work, to home, or on vacation, food and drink temptations are everywhere. If the appeal of a corner bakery pulls you in each time on the drive home, take a different route. Changing the environment can help dodge and avoid those unhealthy impulses. Vacations are intended to be enjoyed. However, the unfamiliar surroundings and being away from home typically means eating out each meal and getting entirely off the health track.
Luckily, stepping off the pathway is not inevitable. Start by bringing some familiarity on the trip. Pack nutrient-rich snacks and a water bottle to keep hunger tamed and thirst quenched. Ultimately, new foods should be experienced. Try out local restaurants that feature fresh ingredients. If the portions are big, practice the plate rule by halving the meal and saving the other half or splitting with someone else. A vacation can still be enjoyed without sacrificing all the hard work made prior!
Whether at home, work, or traveling, try surrounding yourself in a healthier environment or creating and modeling your own. If areas are out of your control, stay mindful and listen to hunger cues. It is just as important to have a healthy relationship with food as it is to actually nourish your body. With simple adjustments and changes, a healthy eating environment will emerge and maintain itself.