The Influence of Environment Part 2 of 2: Trigger Foods vs. Treats
As we learned in Part 1, our environment is a major influence on our behaviour. So if you want to change your nutrition, you must change your environment, including who you spend time with.
The Food we Keep in our Homes
Skittles vs. Wine Gums
Once in a while, my girlfriend and I will hit up Bulk Barn for some psyllium husk, flax, and turmeric (nerd alert!). Because of the huge amount of candy there, I have a hard time not buying candy. I hesitate to send clients to Bulk Barn for this reason.
In Part 1 I said I never keep junk food in the house. That’s mostly true. The specific truth is I never keep trigger foods in the house. I can keep junk food in the house if I don’t love it. I can out-will Skittles, but wine gums are a trigger food.
I vividly remember as a child wishing I had a bed that was one huge wine gum so I’d have an unlimited amount to eat. Now, at $5 a bag, I can afford a lot of wine gums. But I only eat them a few times a year.
I have never felt satisfied by them, no matter how many I eat. In fact, the more I eat, the more I crave them. Part of this is biological as our taste buds become desensitized.
Recently, I ate about 500 mL or more (about 1-2 lbs). That’s a lot, even for me. The next morning, I got out of bed, walked past the kitchen, and ate a wine gum. They were sitting on the counter. My girlfriend gasped out of dismay and horror! And then laughed at me.
To save me from myself, when she left for work, she took the wine gums. I felt relieved.
Skittles, however, meh. I can eat a few, and put them away. We had a bag in the cupboard which lasted six weeks.
My advice to you is this:
Know the difference between treats and trigger foods
Act according to your goals. Control your environment.
Also note that the healthier you eat, the less you will crave junk food. There are biological and psychological reasons for this.
Fancy Liquor Displays
I don’t keep alcohol in plain sight because it makes me drink more frequently than my preferred cadence of 0-2 x a week.
The fancy bottles tempt me and I start thinking about Frank Sinatra and how cool it was for the Rat Pack to be drinking all the time. Why do you think bars and restaurants spend thousands of dollars on the décor?
For me, it’s the sophistication, the manliness, the feeling of reward, or feels like I’m having a little party in my apartment. Luck be a lady, tonight!
But wait! I snap out of it! It’s not OK Frank! It’s Tuesday! You’re a bad influence!
I first learned the power of environment long before I was this expert in human motivation. In 2001 I was a recruiter and all the guys in the office drank a lot. My room mate and I wanted to drink less. So on a hunch, we put the booze below the bar (out of sight), instead of on top of it (plain sight).
Boom. Instant habit compliance (we drank less). Notice the teamwork as well.
Now a days, I keep my impressive stash of premier libations in a closed cabinet. And when it’s time to drink, I set it out and we drink. To fulfil my romantic notions I have a legit retro cocktail shaker, fancy glasses, imported vermouth, and the big ice cubes that don’t dilute the Manhattans.
- No human can withstand the influence of the environment forever
- Know your trigger foods and avoid exposure to them
- If you’re not sure what your influences are, do a food journal with a note on each entry about why you made that choice
- Changing environment = change nutrition and fitness behaviour
Be sure to contact me if you want a free assessment. I’m sure I can help you achieve your health and fitness goals.