What did you choose to do today? Did you opt for soup or a salad today over a slice of pizza? Did you say ‘no’ to those biscuits and instead have a protein bar? Did you manage to fit in some exercise, or will you do some tomorrow? It’s the accumulation of these seemingly small, insignificant choices that determine how successful we are in weight loss.
These opportunities to choose well (or poorly) arise many times throughout our day. Becoming more aware of this allows us to stop, take a moment (about ten seconds is ideal) and then make a choice that brings us closer to our goal. It’s then that we get to ask ourselves practical questions such as, ‘Is this choice bringing me closer or further away from my goals?’
What we’re up Against: the Global Giants
The food industry wields immense political power globally through political campaign contributions and other means. They spend a considerable amount of money in trying to steer us (and our children) towards processed foods that are cheap to produce, but that contribute to obesity.
One clear example of this is the positioning of sweets and sugary drinks near cash registers, or the reluctance of many manufacturers to list ingredients on their label, or to not print misleading claims such as ‘healthy’. We simply cannot leave it up to them to make the right choices for us and our families, nor can we put all our trust in our government to protect us – we need to educate the public and take back control in a bid to become much more conscious of health behaviours.
The same goes for the mobile phone industry. Are we gong to trust the phone manufacturers and app developers to keep our children safe and to help monitor our own phone addiction when devices are designed to be addictive? Similar to food, if we don’t exercise discipline and rules around them, we are at the hand of huge industries who are making money off our ill-health. It’s time we tried to outsmart the global food companies.
Have a look at this interesting video on ‘food architecture’ which is how the way food is presented to us influences our choices in both positive and negative ways.
The Barriers to Good Choice
Besides the obesogenic environment that we live in, where it is easier to be overweight and obese than a healthy weight, there are also economic and practical factors (this is by no means an exhaustive list but points to some of the barriers we all experience).
1) The cost of food is an important factor influencing food choice, especially for low-income consumers. There is ofen the misconsception that a healthy diet must be an expensive not, but this is a myth and need not be the case at all. The potential for food wastage leads to a reluctance to try ‘new’ healthy foods for fear the family will reject them. In addition, a lack of knowledge and the loss of cooking skills can also inhibit buying and preparing meals from basic ingredients. This is where education is key. Our weight loss advisors know how consumers can increase, for instance, their vegetable consumption, and to learn to switch over to unprocessed carbs, but in an affordable way.
2) A change in our food culture is needed. Efforts of governments and public health authorities to promote healthy foods as value for money could also make a positive contribution to dietary change and it is something we as an organisation encourage, but all too often our government falls short. Download our report, An Unhealthy Healthy Ireland.
3) Time constraints are frequently mentioned by individuals and families for not following nutritional advice. This has been reflected in the past decade by the shift in the fruit and vegetables market from loose to prepacked, prepared and ready-to-cook products (which, as we all know, is contributing massively to our plasticd dilemma). These products are also often more expensive than loose products but people seem to prioritise the convenience they bring.
Changing Behaviour for Better Outcomes
Dietary change is not easy, particularly when dealing with habits that have been built up over a lifetime. We know that as we work in this area every day. However, the good news is that it’s entirely possible, with the right conditions. One of those is having the motivation to change. That’s where our weight loss advisors can help you, as they can help bring out the trigger points that make you want to change.
At Motivation, we use a range of behaviour change techniques that help our clients to be succesful in achieving a healthy weight in the long term.