IN Australia we live in an “obesogenic society”. The structure of our food systems and lifestyles make it very easy to gain weight and very difficult to lose weight.
For example, modern work environments require you to sit down at a computer for most of the day and our major forms of entertainment are sedentary (watching TV and being on devices). Add to that, a high volume and availability of calorie-dense foods such as takeaways, chips, chocolate and soft drink just to name a few.
Stepping back and seeing all these structural elements of life it becomes clear how easy it is to make a poor food choice or not move. Willpower alone is not enough to eat healthily and manage weight. The New Year is a great opportunity to reflect on our food environments and how we can make healthier choices easier for ourselves in 2019.
Think about how you store and consume food; are there tempting treats in the pantry that you keep snacking on after dinner? Are there unhealthy kids’ snacks sitting there whenever you open the fridge? If you find you are grazing at home, try these strategies to reduce the temptation:
- Throw out any food that you don’t want to be eating (harsh but effective).
- Put unhealthy snacks in a non-clear container on the very top or very bottom shelf of the pantry/ fridge.
- Pre-chop fruits and vegetables and store them at eye level.
- Experiment with using side plates for meals.
- Keep mineral or still water chilled in the fridge rather than juice, beer, wine or soft drink
- Store soft drink in the pantry. If it’s not cold you are less likely to drink it.
- Have a household rule of only eating at the table (even snacks) or no screens while eating.
- Shop online a week ahead. You avoid impulse buys and make good decisions for your future self.
Morning teas, social-club treats, vending machine and charity chocolates are all there at work to try and make the workplace feel more free and fun. But, if you are feel frustrated that you keep eating chocolate at 3pm every day, I guarantee there are others in your office who feel the same way. Ask your colleagues about making some changes to make life a little easier for all.
- Put the charity or social-club treats in a cupboard.
- Run challenges to raise money, e.g. a swear (or other unwanted habit) jar.
- Reduce the frequency of morning teas (e.g. one a month for all the people’s birthdays within that month).
- Leave your wallet or credit card at home.
- Have a meeting outside or while walking instead of at a café.
- Pack your lunch and snacks and keep them on your desk.
Food is at the centre of most of our social interactions and we are often out of the house when many poor food choices are made. Changing patterns with these strategies can have a big impact over time:
- Catch up with friends for a walk or activity instead of a meal or snack.
- Invite friends around for dinner rather than going out. Make it a potluck so you aren’t doing all the work.
- Pack snacks for shopping trips and when going out for coffee.
- Have a meal before you go out shopping to avoid the tempting food courts.