Most people understand that to lose weight requires more than just changing your diet. It requires changes in lifestyle, habits, food choices, eating behaviour, relationships, mindset, sleep, and environment.
Your environment matters more than you realise. Let’s look at some external factors which play a role influencing our eating behaviours.
Advertising can be persuasive and can also be inaccurate. Foods are often associated with something we feel positively towards, using a celebrity, sportsperson, or a cute baby, which can influence our food choices.
It might be a catchy sing-a-long jingle that stays in your mind and influences a buying decision. A headline with a sensational “too good to be true” offer that triggers an emotional response in your brain.
Just be aware that the best foods for your body are found in the meat, seafood and vegetable aisles of the supermarket.
Food Packaging & Processing
Food manufacturers know that to sell more product they must have attractive packaging and food that tastes good. This means “enhancing” the foods with a cocktail of additives, flavours and/or chemicals, and mostly with extra sugar and fat, made from highly processed seed oils. None of these are good for your weight or your health.
Impulse buying is responsible for up to 30% of our grocery shopping, so by taking the time to write out your shopping list, and only buying what’s on the list is a great start.
Be aware of health labelling claims that may end up making you eat foods that have little nutritional value with more overall calories. These health claims include organic, gluten free, no fat, low fat, reduced fat, no added sugar, baked not fried, reduced carbs, and vegetarian versions of meat.
Smorgasbords are a recipe for disaster as they offer far too many choices, multiple servings and always loads of desserts. Getting your money’s worth is the mantra. Willpower simply does not work. Choose a la carte restaurants where you can order meat and vegetables or salad options, one meal on one plate.
Fast food outlets offer convenience but promote large portions with poor nutritional value. If you have no other choice then order a burger, eat the insides, and throw away the bun. Never order chips.
Many of us were conditioned to “finish your plate” as children. The size of plates has also increased, thus conditioning us to naturally eat more. Smaller plates are a great way to reduce the amount of food you eat. Shallow bowls can be filled with less food but give you the sense of fullness.
Here’s a secret about nutrition panels you need to know. Often the per serve is based on a claim like “less than 100 calories” or “low in fat” so the manufacturer can make a specific nutrition claim. A packet of chips may contain 2 or 3 serves but you end up eating the whole packet!!!
Socialising with family and friends
Our focus is usually on the company rather than the food, so we find ourselves eating mindlessly. Our hosts often provide far too much food and drink so we find ourselves having more to avoid offending them.
Research indicates that if your friends or family members gain weight, they may influence your food and drink choices. Be aware of any triggers and develop self-awareness so you have control over your choices.
A family with traditional cultural meal patterns will also influence how you eat. Indian families are used to eating curries and rice, so developing recipes that match these traditions but may not include the rice is an option.
The nutritional environment has changed radically since the 1960’s as we have been exposed to foods that are highly processed and high in calories, heavily marketed, using low quality ingredients that have added sugar to produce foods that are highly addictive and very profitable.
These foods have fuelled the obesity epidemic as we have been led to believe that fat was the main reason why we were all putting on weight. People have been misled by false marketing from processed food manufacturers.
It’s time to cut the strings
Monitoring food and drink intake through pre-planning and keeping an accurate record of everything consumed daily is one of the most important tools for re-developing new healthy habits and focus.
Paying attention to the signals your body is giving, is another essential component to re-learning how to tune in to avoiding some of these external environmental factors that can sabotage your weight loss and health outcomes.
If you would like to learn how our programs work and how the extra benefit of weekly coaching adds the additional layer of accountability, fill out the form below and we’ll contact you soon.