Eating healthily is something everybody should do and something that everybody knows they should BUT sticking to it can sometimes be a problem.
Nobody is perfect, and even the most disciplined of us can fall off the wagon sometimes. However, there are a few things that we can do to develop a healthy eating routine and staying with it.
1.Healthy Eating and Science
Instead of focusing on what we eat, we should be looking at why and how we eat.
Good nutrition is reasonably understandable to some people: Your body needs energy, so you fuel it with food, your overall health progresses, and your efficiency improves. As a result, you can stay a healthy size and avoid a number of health issues.
There are so many benefits related to healthy eating, that it shouldn’t be too difficult. And yet, craving junk food is one of the reasons people lose control.
Why We Crave Junk Food
When we look at junk food, we also need to look at the two things that make junk food addictive.
- The Feeling of the Food – Eating is about using your taste buds and experiencing food through the senses. The sweetness or saltiness, the crunch of a cookie, the smoothness of chocolate or the fizz in a soda are all contributing factors that make you feel a certain way towards food.
- The Nutrients in the Food – Foods are made up of fat, protein and carbs. The junk food industry are experts in finding the perfect blend of all three to find what makes them so addictive to make you buy more.
How Food Scientists Create Cravings
There are a number of tactic experts in the junk food industry use to make food more addictive:
- Textural Differences
Thin of any junk food that has a mixture of textures – subconsciously we find this thrilling. This can be crunch and then the smooth filling of your favourite double-stuffed cookie, or even the crispy crust of a pizza followed by the chewy softness of the mozzarella.
The foods that help you salivate more have a slippery enough texture to help flavours reach all of your taste buds. Your mouth is enjoying the taste of these foods and sends a signal to your brain that you want more.
- Melting foods and vanishing caloric density
Foods that quickly disappear or dissolve in your mouth (such as Cheetos or candy floss) send signals to your brain that you’re not eating as much as you actually are. Despite the fact that you’re eating a lot of calories, your brain doesn’t process it because the volume of the food is no longer there.
- Response to the senses
Your brain enjoys an assortment of flavours. Eating an entire bowl of lettuce which has the same taste might seem difficult for some people – this is because you might feel bored with the monotony of the taste.
However, junk foods are created to avoid this “boredom” AKA this sensory specific response. There’s enough flavour to keep the food interesting and even if you’re eating a whole family sized bar of chocolate, the experience feels new and exciting all the time.
- Density of Calories
Junk foods are sneaky. They tell your brain that you are getting nutrients, but even though your brain knows this, you won’t get full up in the same way you would from other foods. You will begin to crave the food but will rarely feel full from it.
- Memories connected to food
When you eat a particular food, your brain brings back memories of how good it tasted. As a result, we remember all the good feelings that the food brought on and we begin to salivate and want that food again.
- Response to the senses
2. Making Healthy Eating Easier
If you want to change your healthy eating habits, you don’t just need to only look at your motivation, but also your surroundings. The things around you can completely alter your behaviour, especially when it comes to food.
The Importance of Environment for Healthy Eating
A team of researchers conducted a secret study in a hospital cafeteria to test peoples’ habits and their connection to the environment.
The purpose of the study was to test how the arrangement of food and drinks on display in the cafeteria had an effect on peoples’ choices.
The scientists began by changing the way the drinks were displayed in the cafeteria. The 3 fridges in the room were filled with sugary drinks to begin with.
The team of researchers then added water to those fridges and put boxes of water bottles elsewhere in the room. You can see the changes in the image below. The dark boxes show the places where bottled water was available.
Image Source: American Journal of Public Health, April 2012.
The Results of the Experiment
In the following 3 months, there was an 11.4% decrease in sales of soda. And an astounding 25.8% increase in bottled water sales. Similar changes and results were observed with food options. The people that ate and drank in the cafeteria were unaware that they were being monitored. The research team just made changes to the customers’ surroundings and they did what came naturally.
Making choices based on your environment means that you’re most likely to listen to your body and do whatever is easiest. If you’re tired or stressed, working out or cooking a healthy meal probably won’t be at the top of your to-do list. So, you’ll just do whatever is quick and easy. This could be grabbing a chocolate bar from the vending machine, or ordering a takeaway when you get home after a long day.
Try it yourself! Make a few changes to your environment and make your hard choices much easier for yourself.
How to Eat Healthy Without Noticing
There is a lot of research out there that tells us our environment influences the choices that we make. So, here are a few methods we can use to make it easier for us to eat healthily.
- Use smaller plates
You might have heard of this before, but it makes sense doesn’t it? Bigger plates mean bigger portions meaning that you’re more likely to eat more.
Well what if you put a small portion on a big plate?
That’s not going to work. Your brain looks at the small amount of food and instantly makes the connection that you’re not getting enough. Use these circles below as an example – the black circles are exactly the same sized, but in relation to their “plate” surrounding look totally different.
This picture shows how small portion sizes can look filling on a small plate, but scarce on a large plate.
- Cut down on your booze and soda: Use tall, slender glasses instead of short, fat ones
Look at the picture below. Is the horizontal or vertical line longer?
Both lines are in the fact the same length, but our brain can often miscalculate vertical lines. So, taller drinks look bigger to us than shorter, horizontal cups do. Height makes things look larger than width, so you’ll end up drinking20% less fromtaller glasses than you would from short, fat glasses
- Use plates that contrast in colour with your food
Make sure that the colour of your food doesn’t blend into the colour of your plate. Your brain won’t register your portion size and you’ll be more likely to eat more.
- Keep healthy foods in an obvious place
Rather than reaching for a packet of crisps as you run out the door, keep a bowl of fruit or nuts somewhere convenient so that you can grab a healthy choice of snack.
- Wrap unhealthy foods in tin foil. Wrap healthy foods in plastic wrap.
When you wrap your unhealthy foods in foil, you’ll be able to block the image out of what is contained inside. A healthy snack wrapped in see-through packaging is easier to visualise, so you’re going to register having seen it and increase the chances of your eating it.
- Store healthy foods in larger boxes, and unhealthy foods in smaller ones
You can’t miss a big box in your kitchen and being aware of the big box full of healthy foods is half the battle. Remove unhealthy foods from their big packages and place them into smaller containers and you’ll be less likely to see them.
Where do I begin with my Healthy Eating?
There is much more to eating healthy than simply what we eat, and we need to focus more on why we eat certain foods and how we can change our eating habits. However, here are two top tips for eating healthily:
TIP ONE: Eat greens
Veggies fill you up and provide essential nutrients.
TIP TWO: Eat a mixture of foods
Keep things interesting so that you’re not tempted to cheat yourself. Find a variety of healthy meals and snacks and you’ll never be bored!
Two Simple Methods for Healthy Eating
Any good healthy eating plan will set two main principles: eat whole foods, avoid processed foods and eat foods that have lived or were grown outside. It’s all about good, wholesome foods.
It’s easier said than done though! The best thing to do is make sure healthy food is never far away.
- Work out your Supermarket Shopping Method
When you go to the supermarket, avoid the aisles. These contain junk and other processed foods. Instead, walking around the outsides of the market will generally guide you to the healthy sections where meat, fish, fruits, nuts, and vegetables live.
- It’s OK to the have a treat
You need to enjoy your life, and if you want to treat yourself to a burger or a glass of wine, that’s OK. But you should follow this simple rule:
Whenever you eat an unhealthy meal, follow it with a healthy one.
Don’t let a cheat meal turn into a cheat day or cheat week, but also understand that none of us are perfect and we all give in to our cravings once in a while. What’s important is getting back on track afterwards.
3. Sticking to a Healthy Eating Habit
Identify the Cause of your Unhealthy Eating
Stress can lead to overeating. When people get stressed, their brains release chemicals that draw them back to fatty and sugary junk food. Learn how to manage your stress using training, art or yoga, and you’ll be able to avoid those temptations.
Learning to Say “No” to Temptation
Life is full of situations where we need to practice saying “no” and a recent study observed the effects of language choice and our ability to say no.
In the study, 120 students were split into two groups:
One using the phrase “I can’t” and the other “I don’t.”
The first group was told that every time they were up against somethingtempting, they should tell themselves “I can’t do ….” For example, when tempted with pizza, they would say, “I can’t eat pizza.”
When the second group was up against something tempting, they were told to say “I don’t do X… For example, when tempted with pizza, they would say, “I don’t eat pizza.”
They repeated the phrases, answered questions unconnected to the study, and handed in their answer sheets, thinking that the study was finished. However, it was just the start.
As each personleft the room and handed in their answers, they were presentedwith a choice of treats; a chocolate bar or a granola bar.
People who told themselves “I can’t eat …” chose the chocolate bar 61% of the time.
The people who told themselves “I don’t eat …” only chose the chocolate 36% of the time.
This is the amazing power of words.
Why do words make such a big difference?
The One Saying That Will Help You Eat Healthy
The words that you use influence your future behaviors.
By using the phrase “I can’t”, you’re telling your brain that you’re not allowing yourself a particular food which reinforces the idea that you are limited in your choices. It is this restriction that can cause you to fall off the wagon.
However, when you use “I don’t”, you’re telling yourself that you have made this decision and you are in control. You have made the choice not to eat that junk food.
It is important to remember that your use of language can lead to a change in attitude. When you use the phrase “I don’t” you can continue to make important life changes decisions and reach your long-term goals.
Don’t Ruin your Life with Guilt