Does environment matter in eating healthy, exercising, and reaching and maintaining a healthy weight?
Absolutely! Creating an environment in your home, workplace, and anywhere else you go that is conducive to eating healthy and being active is a key component to your success.
Is your home stocked weekly with healthy foods?
Do you pack food when going to the office, school, on day trips, vacations or business trips? Do you bring a healthy option when going to a potluck and prepare healthy options when hosting parties or holiday events?
The key is have healthy food stocked at your home and wherever you go. In addition, keeping unhealthy foods out of the house is key. If you live with others who bring less healthy foods in the home, strive to keep those foods out of sight when not being eaten.
Environment matters and the key is to have healthy food with you when needed. Visual cues may stimulate some to eat less healthfully or healthfully depending on what’s in sight. My wife buys some snack foods for my kids that I typically don’t eat. If no one is eating it, I’ll wrap it up and put it away to limit temptation.
Remember, humans are wired for survival and we are rewarded through dopamine release to consume the highest calorie foods in our environment. Would you rather have raw broccoli or chocolate? One provides no dopamine and the other does.
That’s why creating an environment that minimizes unhealthy, processed foods with added sugar, unhealthy fats, white flour, processed meats, and sugar rich beverages is vital to your success. Instead, load your house with whole, nutrient rich foods that keeps you healthy and helps you reach your weight loss goals.
Are you packing food when leaving the house? Packing food is a powerful tool worth utilizing. I created a habit of packing food for the work day and did so for many years until I starting working from my home office more often. A simple habit that took a few weeks to solidify, but packed my meals for the work day and then had dinner at home. I called it the 5 P’s of success. Plan your day of eating, prepare, pack, then practice and persist. The key is to create and then maintain the habit.
When packing food, you are bringing a healthy environment with you wherever you go. Think about going to the gym to workout. You’ve stepped into an environment conducive to moving your body. It’s easier to work out once you step in the gym or a home gym if you have one.
I have also created the habit of packing healthy food anytime I leave the house for 3 hours or more. If traveling by plane, I’ll bring as much food till I land and more if needed. If going on a car trip, I’ll bring enough for the road trip and pack more for the next few days for any meal or snack I can bring.
The point is, environment matters and creating a healthy home and ‘on the road’ environment is vital to increase success wherever you go.
It’s not all or nothing, but building tiny habits over time.
Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist