How does the environment influence your thinking in regards to your eating habits?
What is your method for setting your environment and the influences you have over it?
If you have grown up in the United States, you probably had been influenced by television commercials and ads telling you why you should eat certain foods or purchase specific products for enhancing your lifestyle. If, for some reason, you don’t believe me try to picture this. A family gathered around the breakfast table with plates piled high of eggs, bacon sausage, and a stack of pancakes made from a box and a bottle of maple-flavored syrup with a tub of margarine in the center of the table. A large glass of orange juice or whole milk with a Mom smiling telling her family to finish the “nutritious” breakfast she made because “it’s the most important meal of the day.” Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with the visual but, one must wonder how Americans understood that pancakes and processed meat for breakfast qualified as a healthy meal.
Without us knowing, many factors can influence our eating habits from our cultural, social, religious, economic, individual, and even political beliefs. Likewise, our daily lives will be affected by exposure to our environment without even thinking about it. In addition, all of that influence can be changed again without our thinking in just a matter of minutes. So I ask you as I often make a daily effort in asking myself, “how aware are you?” I believe paying attention to our environment and becoming more aware can affect our appetite and help us form better eating habits, encouraging us to live healthier lifestyles and more meaningful life.
Here are some of my suggestions to start forming more awareness in your environment and how it can influence your eating.
- Pay attention and monitor the company you keep. Either being alone or with someone can impact your eating habits more than you think.
- Pay attention to the way you think. How do you think about food and how you are eating. For example, if you are trying to eat more nutritious foods, make sure they are available and visible; otherwise, you may be thinking about dessert first.
- Pay attention to what you see. What are you looking at in your social media feed or on TV? If you are one of those people looking for information from the phone or the internet, make sure you are aware before you look so you don’t suddenly want to make a random recipe or try a new restaurant out.
- Pay attention to what colors you like. For example, notice the color of the plates that you are eating off. Yes, that is correct; the color can stimulate eating more or less, and some research has suggested that when putting a contrasting color against the color of the food you eat, people have eaten less.
- Pay attention to what you hear and how it makes you feel, along with the unnoticed sounds around you. Lighting and noise, again the research indicates that you may eat less of the environment you are eating in is dimmed lighting along with quitter music vs. the loud music and bright lights.
- Last but certainly not least, consider the temperature outside if it is hot or cold. Most of us tend to eat more when it is cold vs. the heat, so be aware of how much you consume during those colder months.