Always thinking about food? There’s a very good reason for that. Your environment may be throwing food temptation in your path at every opportunity, and it’s no wonder you’re constantly thinking about food. Put simply: the food environment in which many of us live makes it too easy to eat too much.
When you think about your environment—the surroundings in which you live, work and play—you probably don’t think about food. And yet, we all live in a very complex food environment, one in which we’re faced with food and food-related decisions all day long. It’s an environment that makes it really difficult to choose healthy foods—and increasingly easy to choose foods that aren’t very good for us.
Your food environment is made up of all the influences on your food choices and your eating behaviors. There’s food everywhere, it seems—in your neighborhood, your workplace, at school, at home and on television. Along with the pressure to eat it. And the pressure isn’t on us to eat good foods. We’re swayed by the fact that we can satisfy our cravings for fatty, sugary, salty foods quickly, easily and cheaply.
Here’s a question for you: Suppose you’re out running errands in your neighborhood, and as you’re driving around you get a sudden craving for a burger, or a soda, or a piece of pizza. How many places can you think of where you could stop and satisfy those cravings? I thought so… I’ll bet you came up with a pretty good list in no time.
Now, answer this question: Same thing—you’re out driving around and you get a craving for some baby carrots, a carton of yogurt, or a piece of fruit. Now how many places can you think of where you could stop and satisfy those cravings? Go ahead…take your time…I’ll wait…
You face the pressure to eat foods that you neither want nor need all the time. Walking into the supermarket to buy some apples, someone waves a free sausage sample under your nose. You stop at your local discount store to stock up on shampoo, and your senses are assaulted by the sight and smell of pepperoni pizza. And no checkout experience would be complete unless you’ve faced the temptation of a wall of candy and a mini-refrigerator stocked with soda.
Here’s another thing about food temptation that I’ve noticed lately. Movie theaters don’t seem to have box offices any more, you have to buy your tickets at the refreshment stand. As soon as you ask for your ticket, you’re going to have to answer to “Would you like a soda to go with that? Some candy? How about large popcorn?” Imagine what this has done for refreshment sales, not to mention our waistlines.
Consider the two food environments in which you operate. There’s your personal space (primarily your home), and then there’s the food environment of the world at large. Obviously, you have a lot more control over your personal space, which means it’s up to you to make changes to your home food environment. As far as the larger food environment is concerned, the best place to start gaining some control is in how you respond to those everyday pressures to eat in order to resist them.