Convenience foods may not always be the smart answer to health. Here’s why
Why do most people who try to lose fat or move towards a healthy lifestyle succeed briefly only to fail eventually? Why is it so hard for you to give up something you’re technically not addicted to? Why do you resolve to not eat junk food only to find yourself giving into that temptation within a week or two?
The answer is — “It’s all too convenient.”
We live in a world where convenience trumps pretty much everything else. Be it the wheel, computers, pizza cutters, washing machines or the Google Glass everything invented is meant to make life easier for us. And slowly we’ve now reached a point where we would pay more for convenience than we would for quality.
And, as far as health is concerned, convenience is in the wrong places. In addition to being engineered to taste great and marketed beautifully, it is junk food that is inexpensive and convenient to procure and store. But anything with respect to wholesome real food spells hard and difficult. They are pricey, hard to procure, easily perishable, demand prep time and taste depending on cooking skill.
Let’s say you decide to start eating more vegetables for the sake of health. If there was a choice between picking up high quality organic vegetables twice a week from a location that is 45 minutes away and having regular pesticide-filled vegetables cut, packaged and home delivered, most of you will choose the later. If a third option of buying cooked, ready to eat vegetables exist, you would pick option three over two in spite of the bad oil and preservatives used. And slowly, you forget why you decided to eat more vegetables in the first place.
With junk food so conveniently and easily available, it doesn’t matter how many times you resolve to eat well or how amazing your nutrition plan is, you will eventually fail. Why? Because willpower is limited. Realise that your battle is against junk food that is continuously being improved, food manufacturing companies that are trying to make a profit at the cost of your health and marketing geniuses who don’t hesitate to twist truth to trick you into buying products that are in no way healthful. Against these forces, willpower stands no chance in the long term.
So how do you fight this fight then? Optimise convenience. That is, make the right things convenient and the wrong things hard to come by.
Don’t store junk food in the house. If you want an ice cream, drive, buy, enjoy, finish and come home empty handed. In other words, clean your pantry. There should be nothing in your pantry that is unhealthy.
Make healthy foods easily available and consumable. Find an organic store that will home deliver. One day a week, chop and portion all vegetables and fruits and have them ready to cook or eat.
Find restaurants around your area that serve good healthful good and identify “go to foods” on the menu. This way you don’t find yourself starving and inside a food chain restaurant.
Make some basic rules that will save you the trouble of making decisions on the spot especially when temptations are high.
Always have fruit for dessert. Without thinking, say no to junk food irrespective of who offers it or when it is offered.
In short, make life easier for yourself by making it harder to spoil your health. And remember, convenience is a trump card. Play it smart. Use it wisely.
(The writer is a fitness and nutrition expert.)