“The solution to mindless eating is not mindful eating—our lives are just too crazy and our willpower too wimpy.”
– Dr. Brian Wansink, food researcher and director of the Cornell food and brand lab.
It is common sense. If a smoker wants to quit smoking, one of the best things he can do to avoid backsliding is to stop hanging out with people who smoke. To do this, he may need to get new friends. If a person wants to quit an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, he must redesign his environment to support his abstinence. When the environment is too difficult to redesign to support his decision to quit the addiction, then it is often best to change the environment by moving to a new place and starting over again. Of course, he must always way the costs and benefits before making the move.
We are products of our environments. Often, we become one way because our environment allowed us to do. If you are addicted to anything, chances are high that your environment has been working to enable you to become addicted. And it is possible to change the environment.
In the sciences, we talk of the nature vs. nurture principle. A lot of diseases (including obesity) are caused by contributions that come from both our genes (nature) and our environment (nurture). Many times, you can have the genes that increase your chances of having a particular condition but not end up having it because your environment was designed in a way that it didn’t work together with the genes for the disease to occur.
Changing our environment helps us to remove the temptation to revert back to the same behaviors that caused our addiction or disease in the first place. Our willpower is not strong enough and depending on it will lead us to fail.
Related article: How to use your willpower to set yourself up for success
A young man who is doing drugs in a community and wants to quit may have to move to another city and start life afresh, away from negative influences to be able to succeed.
A person who wants to lose weight and get healthy will accelerate his weight loss if he changes his environment to support him instead of work against him. And weight loss may be impossible or suboptimal at best if we don’t make our environments conducive for weight loss.
We are creatures of habit. We don’t think before we do many of the things we do. We just do them. That’s why developing new habits and changing our environment is so crucial.
How can you change your own environment to support healthy eating habits?
That’s a question I want you to attempt to answer. Write down some ideas on how to change your environment to support your healthy eating habits. I have some suggestions to make and will share them in a different article. The key is changing your unique environment. For that, the ideas that are most important will be your ideas.