I’ve made a couple of observations about my dietary habits over the past month or so, and I thought I’d share them with you.
The first is that the easier it is to eat, the more likely I am to eat it.
When you’re hungry, your willpower is diminished, and so it’s easier to grab something you can eat immediately than it is to prepare something healthy. Of course, unhealthy foods — like cookies, chips, and other snacks — require the least preparation. When you’re really hungry, it’s hard to spend five or ten minutes making scrambled eggs when you could be eating a cookie in five seconds.
Because the easiest foods get eaten first, I’ve decided not to keep any in the house. Even reasonably healthy things, like apples. If I have eggs, salad, chicken, vegetables, and apples, the apples are the easiest to eat. Everything else requires preparation. When I’m feeling particularly hungry and/or lazy, I’m much more likely to just eat five apples instead of making something else. So, easy foods are out.
Which leads me to my second observation, which is the notion of gateway foods. Gateway foods can actually be pretty good for you, except for the fact that they lead to much more unhealthy foods. I’ll give you an example.
Over the weekend I stopped over my dad’s house to pick up some mail. I wasn’t in the door for more than a few minutes before I was indulging in a heaping bowl of fruit salad (already made, and thus an “easy” food). But fruit is good for you, so no big deal, right? That first bowl lead to two more bowls. And since I had already had so much fruit, I thought I might as well enjoy some nuts while I was there (another easy food). And what goes great with fruit and nuts? Cheese. Obviously.
Within an hour I had enjoyed much more fruit, nuts, and cheese than I had intended. So by the time my dad pulled out the dark chocolate covered popcorn, I figured, “might as well”. And then came the latest sickeningly sweet variation of Oreo.
Fruit, nuts, and even cheese aren’t inherently unhealthy foods, but because they’re so easy to consume and require virtually no preparation, it’s easy to overeat them. Once you’ve binged on that stuff, it’s harder to rationalize not having some chocolate, dessert, or whatever.
So there you have it. Be wary of easy foods. Be wary of gateway foods. The best way to eat healthy is to have no other choice.