I believe that your environment is one of the most important factors when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Most of us know which foods are bad for us, yet we still consume them on a regular basis. Even I am guilty of this, especially if the food is easily accessible. I will be honest, I don't have the highest amount of willpower when it comes to saying no to food. However, I am aware of the importance of your environment and how it plays a huge role in my decision making. The easiest way to avoid these tough decisions is to not put yourself there in the first place. I truly believe that if you set your environment up for success and can avoid those difficult decisions then you will succeed.
Speaking of success, evolution was pretty damn successful, but it didn't happen overnight; it took a really long time. But in the last 100 years we have experienced drastic changes in our environment. However, our DNA and our innate desires have not evolved as fast. For example, I guarantee you if I offered a caveman a piece of cake, he would jump on it in a second and eat the whole cake. He certainly would not stare at it and ask,
"Is it gluten free?"
I think it is important to realize that our bodies are wired to crave food and pleasure. This design has not changed over the thousands of years. We are designed to want sweet, salty and fatty food. This is due to the scarcity of food that promoted a feast and famine lifestyle. Most likely our ancestors gorged for days at a time then went on long fasts when food was scarce. After all, we evolved to hold onto fat for reason, without our fat storage system, the human race would have never made it. So not only do we crave all types of food, but we also store fat remarkably well. And here is the kicker, nowadays food is rarely scarce and feasting occurs daily. Personally, I believe the only way to beat this is by setting your environment for success.
Let us be honest, if you come home from a long day of work and see chips or candy on the table you are going to eat them. Granted, you might be extremely disciplined and be able to say no to it, but most people won't be able to, I know I couldn't. In that moment, you and I would be craving something sweet and our natural instinct would take over and want quick burst of energy. Nevertheless, you can avoid this situation by not buying junk food and instead having fruit out as a snack.
We are stuck in a sticky situation because we are still the same animal from thousands of year ago, but our environment is not. The advent of technology has drastically altered our environment and has made it very challenging to sustain a healthy lifestyle. When you think about how humans are programmed and how our environment is setup, you start to realize how hard it is to be healthy. If you were hungry at 10pm, 50 years ago, most likely you didn't have a way to satisfy that need if you didn't have any food in the house. But nowadays you can get delivery from any restaurant you want. There are even services out there that will pick up your groceries for you. The technology in the world is designed to make us lazy and overweight. And if it was around 50 years ago, America would have experienced the same obesity epidemic from today.
Nevertheless, it is not too late to make a change. We are now in the time of the internet and information is at your fingertips. You now control how you look and feel. Change is never comfortable nor is it always pleasant, but it is needed. The easiest way for change to occur is by changing your environment. When you go to the grocery store, stay on the outside and do not put yourself in a situation where you have to make a bad decision. Make sure you make a plan before you go food shopping. You should know exactly what foods you need and which foods you don't.
Remember, the first step in setting yourself up for success is buying the right foods. When you only have healthy food choices in the house then you are taking the decision making out of the picture. You will no longer have to suffer from arguments in your head if you should have the cookie or not. If you ever get a sugar craving you will grab the fruit or piece of dark chocolate instead of the junk food because your only options will fruit or dark chocolate and if you are really craving sweets or a snack, then go out and buy it. Overtime, this will develop a habit and eventually you will become less likely to snack. Most people snack out of impulse or boredom. When you delay that impulse and make them think for a second, people make a much better decision.
The take home message is simple. Set your environment up for success and you will succeed in becoming healthier. Don't put yourself in a situation where you have to make tough decisions. Take the time to develop a goal and set up an environment that allows you to accomplish that goal with the least amount of decision making possible.