In a world where instant gratification is king, eating healthily can seem like an impossible task. Supermodel Kate Moss was famously quoted saying “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. Clearly, this is not the case for everyone. Obesity rates in the Uk are at an all time high. And it is unlikely that the problem is due to a lack of education. The majority of people can differentiate between healthy and unhealthy foods, yet we still consistently make “bad” food choices (Anderson, Winett, Wojcik, Winett, & Bowden, 2001).
If you are anything like me, the long-term side effects of eating unhealthily can often seem too distant to scare me. Thinking about them doesn’t usually inspire me to make better food choices in that moment. For example, will that pizza taste good when I eat it? Hell yes! Could I gain weight if I continue to make these choices? Probably, but not for a long while yet (I like to think that metabolism can process most of what I throw at it!). And am I more likely to be at risk of health problems? Maybe, but in the future. Even then there is no guarantee that I will get one.
When the negative impact of your actions are uncertain and will only occur later in time, you are likely to continue to do the behaviour that provides instant gratification (see the PIC/NIC Analysis created by Dr. Aubrey Daniels and research by Porritt, M. 2008 for more information). It is understandable then, that we want to overcome this “instant pleasure now, worry about the consequences later” mentality. But can I stop myself from reaching for the biscuit tin?
Writing a food diary, keeping unhealthy foods out of the house and setting yourself small and achievable goals. These are all popular weight loss tactics. But you will have probably heard them all before. You may have tried these methods and they just haven’t worked for you. Or maybe they were just too impractical for you to follow through with. Not everyone has enough time to record everything that they eat!
Behavioural science has the answer. (Or at least, some very good suggestions! Clearly, the path to healthy eating is not a “one size fits all” approach. Otherwise, we would all be our ideal weight.)
If you are looking for a simple, effective and different way to eat more healthily, then read on!