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Why Eating Healthy is Harder than you Think

Posted Aug 08 2011 7:51am

perfect cupcakes

Salad vs. Pizza

Carrots vs. French Fries

Broccoli vs. Cupcake

I have a sneaking suspicion which ones might win if you had both options in front of you. Actually, let me rephrase that – I know which ones I would choose if they were in front of me.


Not to say I would always choose the unhealthy option (I love me some hearty salads ), but there are more times than I care to admit that I would pick the calorie-laden entrée. But why do this even though I’m well aware of the negative impact of these foods?

Turns out I’m not the only American who struggles to eat “healthy” 100% of the time. An article in Psychology Today , “Fruit Loopiness,” shared the disappointing statistics that Americans are eating about the same or worse than we were in 2009. This stands in stark contrast to the infinite number of resources we have available to us. For instance:

  • Googling “healthy recipes” you get an overwhelming 43.3 million hits
  • If you’re looking for a diet book, Barnes & Noble has over 74,000 for you to choose from
  • 1.2 million people are members of Weight Watchers
  • Roughly 1 in 3 women are on some sort of “diet” each year, but less than 10% can keep the weight off

Hmmm, something just doesn’t fit with this picture. Does this mean we’re getting dumber? Are we just not listening?

Well, it might just come down to emotions. Damn you feelings for always making things wayyy more complicated! Whether we like it or not we’ve associated our favorite foods with emotions. Don’t believe me? Try this:

Think of your favorite food. Got it? Ok now imagine it’s sitting right in front of you. Now think of your surroundings. Who’s with you? Where are you? Some place warm? Somewhere cozy and romantic? What’s the conversation like? Now stop. How do you feel this very moment?

Is there a smile across your face? Were you instantly taken back to a favorite memory? Could you literally smell the food and hear the good conversation whispering in your ear?

For me, I imagined warm apple pie a la mode. I was sitting in a restaurant with my husband and family. Twinkling lights flicker in the background, a warm summer breeze skims through the air. We were all just laughing about something, who knows what it was but the energy is contagious. I take a bite and silently nod acknowledging, “ummm this is amazing.” At that moment I think to myself, Life is good.

It took me less than 1 minute to concoct that memory and it all started with apple pie. Comfort food is very powerful my friends.

So does this mean Americans will continue to skyrocket on the scale? Are we doomed to be controlled by comfort foods?

No, not necessarily. First off, embrace the memories you’ve made around food. Continue to make wonderful memories around the table. But instead of focusing the memory on the food, think of what made you happy in that environment. Was it the people with you? Maybe you were on vacation in your favorite beach? Perhaps it was the great conversation?

The truth is these memories can be made with healthy food too. Conversation can be equally good while eating smoked salmon, grilled asparagus, and fruit salad. The even better part of this scenario is that you’ll end the night feeling really good and not complaining like you’re going pop because how much you ate.

So instead of obsessing over how good that brownie is going to taste, think about how lucky you are to be surrounded by wonderful people at the dinner table. They will fill you up far longer than one sugary indulgence.

Agree or Disagree with my strategy? Do you always listen to the healthy eating tips? Make bad food choices in spite of knowing better?

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