Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Want to know the key to improving your eating habits?
It’s setting your environment up for success. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as willpower or motivation to make healthy choices. The key is having an environment that works for you, rather than against you. You want your home to be like your partner in crime or a safe haven rather than tempting you at every turn. Most people intend to rely on motivation, which can be temporary or waver throughout the day. Routine habits and an environment that encourages healthy choices will outlive motivation or willpower every time.
Here are some tips to help you set up your environment for success!
Do not hide the healthy food
Research shows you are 3x more likely to choose the first item you see rather than the 5th. Most people put their healthy food in the crisper drawers at the bottom of the refrigerator. I call these the RIP drawers (Rest In Peace) because that is where food goes to die. You forget it is down there and it ends up moldy before it sees the light of day. We want to harness the power of proximity by putting the healthy options at arm’s length. In eyesight. In mouth.
Hide your temptations
Harnessing that same power of proximity, move tempting items out of arms reach and eyesight. Beer, candy, cookies, whatever it is put it at the tippy top of your pantry or in the deep dark corners of your refrigerator.
Prep your produce
Wash and chop everything as soon as you get home from the store so it’s ready to go. If you have to stop and wash/chop your produce vs. simply grabbing a bag of chips, you’re most likely going to choose the easier option. Having your produce prepped removes willpower from the equation and makes a healthy choice the easy choice.
Tip: For salads, this can be a major game changer. Wash and chop up your lettuce as soon as you get home from the grocery store. Line a bowl with a paper towel on bottom, fill with your lettuce, then place another paper towel on top to cover. This will keep your lettuce fresh longer and make it easily accessible for individual salads all week long.
Have healthy grab and go items accessible
Examples include: hard boiled eggs, roasted vegetables, roasted chicken, pre-cut fruits and vegetables. Put them in clear containers so they’re easy to see and you don’t forget about them. The average person throws away $1000.00 PER YEAR in spoiled food! The same goes for the freezer: pre-cooked chicken, riced cauliflower and steamfresh veggies are a game changer.
Pre-portion or buy individual packages of things you tend to over eat
Think nuts, guacamole, peanut butter, cheese, ice cream, potato chips. If you struggle with controlling your portion size or mindlessly eating an entire bag of chips, this tip is for you!
If you are ice cream lover (insert any other food here) but want to reduce your portion size, here is how I recommend you navigate these situations:
Good: Serve your ice cream into a bowl rather than eating directly from the carton.
Better: Rather than buying an entire carton, purchase the small pint size or individually wrapped ice cream bars instead.
Best: Don’t buy it at all. Leave these tempting items as a treat you go out for. If you have to leave the house to enjoy it, you are going to be much less likely to indulge.
Taking these steps reduces or completely eliminates the possibility of having to practice self-control. So if you don’t have any, don’t worry you didn’t need it anyway! :D
Pre-plate your food and put left-overs away before sitting down to enjoy your meal. When eating family style with large servings on the table, you are more likely to go back for extra servings or scoops you aren’t necessarily hungry for. The one exception, always leave a big salad or veggies on the table. If you are still hungry after finishing your plate, you will be more likely to reach for these.
Last, and most importantly, give yourself grace when you end up over eating or making an unhealthy choice. You are human and perfection is unachievable.