When we think of reasons why people fail to maintain a healthy diet, many possible reasons come into our minds ...lack of motivation (or bluntly laziness), greed, sabotaging partners/friends, "it was just there", etc. .. Hello COM-B Model?!
I am going to present you with something you probably have never heard of. I have sometimes read about it and when I think about making an unhealthy vs healthy choice I do have to admit it does play a role to some extent sometimes. And it is on a much deeper level than we see it. What we often don't realise is that our choice of food is related to how we feel about ourselves - our self-worth.
You may now object: "Why on earth should what I have on my plate be influenced by how good or bad I feel about myself? I just cook what is healthy or what I feel like having, and that's it."
Well, unfortunately it is a little more complex than that and often we are influenced by many different thought processes where we take different aspects into account. Of course our hunger and appetite is a major driving force here since it ensures that we keep eating according to our body's needs.
But do you always really eat 100% in agreement with what your body REALLY craves? And how do you know?
To make this a little more clear, let's take a look at one example:
Imagine you are coming home after a long stressful day at work and you don't really want to spend a long time on planning and preparing your dinner (quite a common scenario, if you ask me).
Unfortuantely (or fortunately) due to our evolutionary remainders when deprived of engery, our bodies naturally tend to peeper highly calorific and sugary food for maximum and quick calorie replention, although you know at the same time that all you really want is a balanced, wholesome meal with lots of nutrients and vitamins (typically unprocessed ingredients such as vegetables , grains and proteins). You also probably know you will feel much better afterwards than after eating 1 bar of chocolate.
Then you actually picture yourself preparing the healthy meal, which includes knowing the appropriate recipe , buying the required ingredients at the supermarket, cutting and preparing the food, waiting and then washing up lots of dishes.
At the same time, you imagine how you would simply stop at the takeaway on your way home picking up the appetisingly looking pizza overflowing with melted cheese, that you can eat right now and don't have to worry about whipping anything up and cleaning the mess after.
You weigh the pros and cons, most likely subconsciously. Even if you have good intentions and a general motivation to eat healthy, this can be tricky. Thoughts occur such as "It's just going to be me, so what's the occasion for a "special" meal?, "I'd better use the wasted time to study/ do household chores", "I still have this half loaf of toast I have to finish, or it goes out of date." or "The carton with leftover pizza from sunday will do as well".
In my experience the easiest way out for it is PREPARATION, PREPARATION, PREPARATION!
If you already have a foolproof plan, which means you know what recipes you are going to cook throughout the week with the purchased required ingredients, you will be less likely to fall for temptation because you simply don't leave your dinner for chance. And why would you do this with something so substantial as what you put into your body? It deserves to be spoiled with fresh, delicious and nutritious food - believe me if you do some research you will come across many indulgent tasting meals that are actually healthy- such as in Eat. Nourish. Glow or Delisciously Ella.
It may just be your lack of self-worth that's holding you back and tells you that nourishing your body and mind is not worth the effort and extra time.
I can tell you, how you feel after eating three slices of purchased cream pie compared to a carefully prepared wholesome comfort dish is miles apart in terms of how good I feel about myself. It's all like a vicious spiral that will intensify over time. Don't bring yourself down by treating your body like a rubbish bin!