Your Food Environment.

Something you maybe haven’t been thinking about on your wellness journey is your food environment.

As a Dietitian everyone expects me to have a quick and easy simple fix for their health problem, whether it be weight or diabetes or something else. People often expect me to hand them a strict meal plan to follow or to promote Canada’s Food Guide to the point of extreme, but that’s not true at all. I work with my clients on building their relationship with food, on building their own meal plans, and reflecting on what habits they need to change to help them reach their goals. 

One area that from my experience that is often overlooked when it comes to wellness is the food environment. Food environment includes your house, your community (the food available in your community, how many fast food restaurants you pass on your way home, etc.) and your work food environment. 

We tend to rely heavily on a magical ‘willpower’ & I am here to tell you – most people can’t rely on their willpower, myself included.

You see, our food environment influences the foods we choose, how much we eat, what we crave and so much more. Have you ever watched a commercial for a food & suddenly gotten a craving for it? That’s your food environment (external influence) influencing your choice for food. 

Sometimes it is more than just willpower. 

Did you know you serve yourself more food on a larger plate? Think about our grandparents or parents fine china – those dishes seem so small compared to our current day dishware. If I served you 1 scoop of ice cream in a small bowl vs. a large bowl – they look like different amounts even though they are the same amount. This is also a component of our food environment. 

In my opinion, to rely on ‘willpower’ alone is just cruel. YOU ARE A HUMAN! I usually encourage my clients to take a strong reflection on their food environment and make note of how their food environment may inhibit their ability to reach their goals. 

Here are some things you can look at in your home food environment:

  • Plate, Bowl & Cup sizes.
    • For plates and bowls, it is best to choose smaller sizes – you are likely to serve yourself less. 
    • For cups, choose a nice wide cup for your water and a really skinny cup that looks like it holds more than it does for any calorie containing beverage (pop & juice). 
  • Indulgence foods or treats.
    • Don’t buy them or make them an inconvenience.
    •  I like to put a few barriers between Ice Cream & I (it’s my weakness), so I will only have it when I truly crave it enough to leave the house to go get it. You see, that makes me reevaluate how much I want it (is it worth putting a bra on for?) and if I do go get it, I enjoy it in a mindful way (savouring every bite) without guilt. 
  • Have healthier options ready to grab and go. 
    • Think: FRUIT! Cleaned, washed & ready to eat.
  • Take a look at your counters.
    • Is there something on there that you walk buy and snack on all the time? If so, replace it with something healthier. 

So remember, there is a lot more to wellness and healthy eating than simply ‘relying on willpower’. I am happy to work with you to dive deeper in to your food environment and help you structure it to improve your health – set up a free 15 minute meet & greet with me today.

Photo by Neha Deshmukh on Unsplash

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