By training your environment, your habits follow.
Research has shown that
Instead of slowly deciding, step by step, our brains quickly process a handful of grab-n-go inputs and pick from a recognizable menu of options. We ignore stuff we don’t like or want to see, and we’re easily compelled by shiny distractions.
Basically, our brains like the thinking version of fast food — go to the place that’s most appealing, speed through the drive-thru, pick the favorite combo from the menu, slam the decision, move on to the next choice.
So we don’t actually much when we think we’re thinking.
We follow patterns, physical cues that bubble beneath our awareness, and what’s around us.
· — no matter how big the portion is. If we’re served a small bag of popcorn, we’ll eat that. If we are served a bucket of popcorn, we’ll eat that. Presumably if we are served a Volkswagen full of popcorn, we’d do our best to finish that off too.
· Ever started snacking while watching TV or playing video games, then found yourself staring at an empty bag or bowl, wondering where it all went? Your attention was elsewhere, so your eating machine just went on autopilot.
· and we’ll regularly overeat. Our great-grandparents (who drank 7-ounce soft drinks and ate 4-ounce hamburgers in the 1950s) would be astounded at the 50-ounce Double Gulps and 12-ounce Monster Thickburgers commonplace in the US. We’ve lost our perspective on how much we should really be eating.
Our environment: The foundation of habit.
It’s the of what you might expect.
All the “expert stuff” — adjusting macronutrients, advanced nutrition strategies, etc. — is a very small part. Think of a pyramid it would be on top. You might not ever even get to it. It’s a “nice to have”.
The base of the pyramid — your foundation — is what surrounds you.
· Your social environment and culture.
· Your kitchen.
· Your grocery habits.
· Your day-to-day routine.
· Your people.
In general, when it comes to engineering healthy eating, here’s the golden rule:
1. Make healthy behaviors convenient.
2. Make other behaviors less convenient.
· Most people eat everything on their plate. Use a smaller plate and you end up eating less naturally.
· Why risk the temptation? Make it less convenient to eat.
· Veggies and fruits on your kitchen table or counter; that’s a good start.
· Those extra steps add up.
· Instead of driving, consider biking.
· Even better, one that will chew up your couch as punishment if you don’t take it for a daily spin around the block.
People often try to “work hard” to change their habits because changing how you think and feel is hard.
But why should everything be so hard, all the time?
There’s no need to white-knuckle the willpower.
Harness your brain’s autopilot for the side of good!