Health Magazine

Avoiding Temptation When Temptation is Everywhere

By Staceycurcio @staceymccosker

Our food choices are influenced by many things - our home environment, how far we live from food stores/markets, the workplace, our emotional state, food marketing and advertising, our social networks, finances, our knowledge base, culture, the way food was grown, ethics and physical health are some factors which contribute. Our 'food environment' also influences how and what we eat, in a big way!

In my experience, the challenge many people face is not a lack of knowledge and understanding around what to eat. A bigger challenge for many is how to consistently eat well in the face of so much temptation and so many unhealthy options.

Our obesogenic environment is hugely concerning. The post office is no longer somewhere you go to simply post mail, it's also a place you can buy a jumbo pack of lollies ( and some choc chip biscuits... and some novelty chocolates!). The newsagent, the supermarket, the corner store, services stations, cafes, restaurants and schools are all doing the same thing.

I'm not going to get into the food politics of it all, but rather share a few tips to help you stay on track when you're out and about, and surrounded by temptation;

    Think before you buy - Research shows that when people are instructed to think about the 'health rating' of a food, they are less likely to eat unhealthy food (even if they considered it tasty).
    Eat before you leave home - If you're hungry when you're racing about town, you're far more likely to cave in and eat something you really didn't want to! We've all been there. Keep your body nourished and temptation for unhealthy foods all but disappears.
    Keep healthy snacks with you - I always have something healthy on hand, just in case I get the munchies or I'm in town for longer than I thought I would be. It's amazing how often I've had to eat my 'emergency' snack.
    Stay hydrated - Always have water with you and drink often. This is really important.
    Use the right language - Instead of thinking "I can't eat chiko rolls"; think "I don't eat chiko rolls". Using 'don't' instead of 'can't' significantly improves the odds that we will make a healthier choice.
    Stay focused - If you're going to the Servo to get fuel for your car, do just that. Don't get distracted by the environment or eat with your eyes. Stay mindful and remember exactly why you went there in the first place.
    Plan your day - If you know that you're going to be out and about all day, plan somewhere nice and healthy to sit down and enjoy lunch. Try not to skip lunch; it will only result in fatigue, hunger and cravings later in the day.
    Visualise the consequences - Although that Iced Coffee might look tempting when you're hot, thirsty and bothered; visualise how you'll feel later. Fatigued, still hungry, still bothered and bloated are all highly likely!
    Know where the healthy choices are - Your local chemist might have a health food section, your supermarket will stock fresh produce or healthy snacks, or your local service station might stock fresh fruit or healthy options. Although it might not feel like it, you almost always have a choice.

Bottom Line

Over time, your habits will change and you will be less tempted by what is around you. Unfortunately our food environment is unlikely to change in the immediate future, so it's up to us to take action as individuals. In saying this, I'm really optimistic that if enough people vote with their dollars, we will see much needed systemic change to make the food environment a more pleasant one for us all.

Until next time,


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