There are signs and video and audio messages describing delicious food, telling you where to go to get it, promising it’s worth the trip and a good way to spend your money.
You are hard-wired to want food when you think about food.
You think about food all the time because of the overwhelming number of reminders of food you encounter every day.
You try to resist. You try to do something else to avoid eating as much food as you think you would really like to eat. You try to eat food that doesn’t tastes very good to you because it’s “healthier” and if it’s not so very delicious maybe you can stick with smaller portions and fewer calories.
Your willpower and good intentions fail you.
At some point you stop being “good” and give into the food cues. You promise yourself to make up for it “tomorrow” or on “Monday,” or after the “holidays,” but you never seem to be able to keep the promises you make to yourself.
Meanwhile you sit more because your job requires that you be at your desk all day. You relax by watching TV, going out to eat, or going to the movies – more sitting and more eating.
Your home is filled with modern conveniences. You can get most things done with a push of a button. Many things that require your energy you pay to have somebody else perform those tasks (house cleaning, landscaping, car washing and you might even have a dog walker that takes your dog for walks while you’re at work.
We live in an Obesigenic Environment.
It promotes weight gain and undermines healthy weight management. Some people are more susceptible to becoming obese from living in this environment than others. Some people are victims of their environment. Others are able to overcome the environmental cues allowing them to act independently.
Not everybody is born with the ability to act independently of their environment, but anybody can learn how to do it. You can learn how too!
Becoming aware of how your environment affects your actions is an important step in taking charge of your behaviors independently of obesigenic environmental cues.
2) Changing your environment as much possible to support your goals.
Your environment is wherever you spend your time. Some environments are completely out of your control while others are very much in your control. Your home, for example, is an environment where you have a lot of control. Even if you share your home with your family or roommates you can take charge of your environment without inconveniencing the people who share it with you.
- Keep fruit and vegetables front and center for ease of access.
- Locate exercise equipment in plain sight.
- Relocate (if possible) foods that you don’t want to eat mindlessly.
- Store measuring tools in plain sight as a reminder to practice portion control
- Create “No Eating Zones.” Office, car, living room, TV room/den are examples of places where you can avoid eating by not disassociating these places with food and eating. If you share the space it would be great if you could enforce the No Eating Zone with everybody but you might have to create personal zones if you can’t get cooperation. That’s okay if they don’t agree; don’t use lack of cooperation from others as an excuse.
You will also be in environments over which you have absolutely no control.
Don’t worry, you can escape the influences of your environment. It’s a matter of wanting to act in a way that supports your weight related goals. Although the environments that you can’t control create challenges, think about walking on ice.
Walking on ice is treacherous and if you don’t take care you can fall. It is possible, however, to walk on ice without falling. You walk slower, you take care with each step, and as you gain confidence you begin to find it’s easier to remain upright even when walking on ice.
The best way to be in control of yourself when you’re in an environment you can’t control is to believe you can maintain control over your actions and to develop some behaviors to reinforce your belief in yourself.
- Minimize environmental distractions by keeping your mind and your eyes on your goals.
- Stay strong by concentrating on what you want. “I want to eat and exercise to keep myself strong and to reach and maintain a healthy weight.”
- Look for ways to support your goals in your environment rather than identifying all the ways in which your environment presents threats. They’re there, you just have to train your mind to see them. Example: How can I increase my physical activity in this environment? What is in this environment (other than food) that I can direct my attention? If I am going to eat in this environment, what behaviors will help me keep my food choices and portions within my food plan limits?
3) Seek weight-control friendly environments whenever possible.
- Balance the hazard of spending time in weight-control hostile, AKA obesigenic, environments with weight-control friendly environments. Try joining a weight loss group to reinforce your desire to learn how to act independently in environments that threaten your weight and health-related goals. Surrounding yourself with people with the same goals helps you stay committed and provides you with additional resources you may not discover on your own.