Are you struggling keeping to the changes made of eating more healthier? Remember like millions who embark on a lifestyle change, you're not alone. In a world where food (especially the unhealthy and highly processed kind) is so readily available and cheap, it can be tough to change your unhealthy eating habit.
Since injuring my knee (twice), I have struggled to maintain my healthy lifestyle. Time out, recovering meant that I went from being very active to being sedentary over night, which had a domino effect on the way I started to think. It was crazy to think, but whilst being chauffeured around, I would see people cycling, jogging etc and get jealous, which led me feeling sorry for myself and emotional, which resulted to making bad choices with food. I would was talk myself into thinking that whilst I was unable to be active I would enjoy food without restraint and make it up when I was fully fit.
After the first knee surgery, I was on course to regain my fitness and body aesthetics until I overdid it and injured the knee again. The second knee surgery was harder to come to terms with and with help from physiotherapy I am starting to get back on track. As someone who used to weigh a lot more than I do today, I can tell you first hand that eating healthy is not always easy, and there are always triggers to tempt you to fail and fall off track on a daily basis.
So what really makes eating healthy SO hard?
There is no simple answer to the question because there are over 100 variables that directly or indirectly influence us in a “complex web of societal and biological factors that have, in recent decades, exposed our inherent human vulnerability to weight loss and weight gain”.
he Foresight map has been divided into 7 themes that influence us
Amongst the above factors, science tells us that it's not entirely our fault.
Our taste buds have been genetically engineered to crave high-calorie, high-fat foods (that we can use for quick and immediate energy release), and the fact that we've created food that tastes even better than nature's, which makes lettuce a hard sell when compared to a juicy burger.
Processed and fast foods can truly be addicting. A 2010 study found that when rats were regularly fed fast food, their brain chemistry changed—and not for the better. The rats became obese and lost the ability to determine when they were hungry (they would eat fatty foods even when administered electric shocks). They actually refused to eat when put on a healthy diet.
Other research shows that food can be as additive as drugs and as pleasurable as sex because of the pleasure sensation we receive once we have received it. Some foods such as fast food, high sugar/fatty foods trigger the same zone of the brain where we feel pleasure and satisfied. If it no longer becomes freely available, we crave the food because we remember the pleasure sensation we received, which supports the issues with emotional eating as a pleasure sensation makes us feel better. The down side, however is the fact that, unfortunately our brains don't crave the good stuff.
The good news: This "addiction" goes both ways, and you can slowly start to change your tastes and become "addicted" to healthier foods if you start eating them enough.
Research from psychologists, found that test subjects who were fed a low-fat, vanilla-flavoured drink every day for two weeks started to crave the drink, despite its 'chalky' taste. This supports the claim that taste buds constantly change as do cravings. Remember that your taste buds can be changed so that even if vegetables taste terrible to you now, the more you eat them, the more you'll start to enjoy them and you start a cycle of good habits.
Creating new habits (both good and bad) takes time, you did not put on weight over night. It's safe to assume that if you go from regularly eating chocolate, biscuits and takeaways to salads, vegetables and fruit in one day you'll find it hugely difficult to stick to a healthy diet.
So what can we do to help?
Be mindful that we will be tested no matter what. You can list the things that you may come across that will genuinely challenge you such as a stressful day at work, a friends party, a night out with the girls/boys, the packet of biscuits in the cupboard. Once you have compiled a list, determine solutions to overcome them such as plan your week, meals and activity including events and stick to it, follow a shopping list but don't go shopping hungry (I have to go by the out of sight, out of mind principle with junk food, otherwise I will binge, therefore I don't buy it).
By instilling small, realistic changes instead of an all-or-nothing approach, you'll be more likely to break the binge-diet cycle for good. It's perfectly fine to enjoy a little pizza or chocolate now and then, but you may find that eating healthy most of the time is not only possible, it's enjoyable!
Healthy Hearts 4 All Staff
Healthy Hearts 4 All specialise in Fitness, Nutrition, Weight Management and Health improvement. We deliver fitness, exercise, nutrition, weight management and health improvement programmes and advise for people who want to achieve and/or maintain a healthy lifestyle.