That is correct. I am going to give you one single thing you can do that will improve your diet more than anything else.
A couple of months ago I had to get the brakes fixed on my truck because while I am knowledgeable about how to care for the human body I am apparently a dumbass when it comes to vehicle maintenance. The awesome local shop fit me in last minute so I didn’t miss the end of trout fishing season! That, however, is a story for another day.
I dropped the truck for an inspection to assess the problem and sat down in the waiting area with my laptop intending to write a blog. I was mostly successful in that endeavour. Mostly successful because I was fascinated by a conversation between two of the staff behind the counter that highlighted one of the biggest problems with everyone’s nutrition.
What could this be?
The conversation was between a woman and a man and the only conversation happening in the place so it wasn’t like I was going out of my way to overhear. What follows is a completely NONE accurate recounting of the discussion from my memory. I figured actually recording it was way too far lol. The gist of it I was able to recall.
This conversation occurred at 8am on a Wednesday.
Woman: I see a Hershey bar that is going to get eaten this morning.
[Referring to very large box of chocolate bars on the counter in front of her work station that was serving its purpose as a fundraiser for some school or sports team, because yes, we can only fundraise for children’s activities by selling various types of garbage pseudo-food.]
Man: Oh yeah?
Woman: I am going to try and hold off until 9am! At least until this coffee buzz wears off!
Man: That is probably a good idea.
Woman: It is definitely going to happen though.
That is all I can now remember about the conversation but it captures all of the vital details! I vaguely recall that this topic was discussed for at least ten minutes, which while fascinating to me, greatly setback my writing that day.
How does this relate to you and to your diet? What the fuck are you talking about Coach Taylor.
This is literally the greatest secret tip to improve your health I can give you. Period. If you do this ONE thing you will improve your healthy eating and nutrition habits INSTANTLY.
Here we go. I am going to drop a gigantic truth bomb on you right now.
It is so seemingly simple and you’ve heard it so many times you are probably going to stop reading and quickly unsubscribe from my blog and podcast (because you ARE subscribed to my blog and podcast, right?!) for wasting your valuable time with an idea that OBVIOUSLY everyone already knows.
Truth bomb time.
If it is there, you will eat it.
I guess I didn’t really phrase that properly. I promised a useful tip that you can enact right now and not some meme-worthy slogan to add to your pinterest board in the hopes that another motivational quip will be the proverbial straw that breaks your poor nutrition habits once and for all…
In order to acquiesce that expectation, which to be fair was how I set things up, I will rephrase that statement into an actual actionable piece of health and nutrition advice.
Do not buy or stock in your house anything that isn’t real food, especially those items that you know are unhealthy and that you have a hard time resisting.
That’s better, now you can screenshot that, pin it, post, and be well on your way to a NEW YOU!!!! (The current you is just fine, I merely like to slam the fitness industries infinitely stupid catch phrases at every opportunity).
The conversation I transcribed in masterful detail above is a beautiful example of the largest serious issue facing our diets today: access. If it is there you are going to eat it. Period.
If that box of chocolate bars hadn’t been sitting on that counter on that Wednesday morning at eight o’clock it is highly probable that the person in question would probably not eat a nutrient devoid package of fat and sugar for no reason at all. The idea that it was a pick-me-up from the caffeine stimulation is also kind of silly because we all know that the half-life of caffeine is around 5 hours so you wouldn’t be coming down off your high at 9am when you are still drinking your coffee at 8 am.
No. No the reason this person was going to stuff their gullet with non-nutritive calories on a random weekday morning is simple.
It was there.
Access. Convenience. Proximity. Addiction.
It was there.
Think about your own eating habits. If you have a bag of chips in the pantry how often do you grab a few passing by? Or as a ‘little treat’ while binging Netflix in the evening? Now imagine that bag of chips wasn’t there? Would you jump in the car and pop over to the convenience store at 9pm to grab a bag of chips so you could eat a handful while the finale of Stranger Things patiently waits on pause for your return?
You might. And if you do we need to have an entirely different conversation about your health and habits! More likely, however, you would not eat any potato chips if they weren’t conveniently awaiting your attention on the second shelf of the pantry, right beside that half eaten chocolate bar that you bought to support your neighbours kids sports team yesterday…. Might as well grab a couple squares of that too because it’s dark chocolate and that is good for your health! Plus don’t you feel good supporting that kids sports team?!
I’ve doled out this advice thousands of times to thousands of clients over the years and very rarely does it ever create meaningful change. There is always a list of excuses. A constant justification process for why the cookies, chips, chocolate, crackers, candy, etc. is there in the pantry.
“I have to have it there for the big game this weekend”
“It’s there for the kids”
“You have to indulge sometimes!”
“My partner buys it, I would never buy it!”
“It was a gift from friends congratulating me on a whole week on my new diet!”
“How did that even get in there?”
“I support ALL of the kids sports teams!”
Fine. Do what you want. It IS YOUR life. However you want to live does not affect me. I am merely attempting to tell you the number one reason you are overfat, pre-diabetic, chronically tired, and feel like shit most of the time.
You eat shitty ‘food.’ And most likely you eat shitty food because you have access to the food. Because it is right there. Because you can just reach out and touch it….
You’re addicted. You can’t say no. It isn’t an accident. The ‘food’ companies have done this to you on purpose. They have a term for it actuality. Craveability. They create all of these foods in labs with researchers to maximize the chances of making you want to consume them. [Read this book: Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Industry Hooked Us ].
There is one thing you can do: don’t have it around you.
A lot of arenas in your life you may not have control over. The co-worker who is constantly brining in baked goods. The stupid gym you pay $10 a month for that keeps tootsie rolls on their counter to tide you over between pizza days. The in-laws who insist on having Costco sized bags of candy on hand ‘for the kids.’ You cannot control these areas of your life and will only be able to rely on your personal decision making skills.
But you can control a huge area of your life. Arguably the most important one.
It is so simple.
Don’t have it in the house. Period. Ever. For any reason.
No chips, cookies, crackers, donuts, premade pizza, candy, chocolate, sugar syrups, or pop. [Note: that was NOT a complete list of the shitty non-food you probably have in your house right now]
If it is not there you are far less likely to eat it.
Stock your house with real food and eat it whenever you want and eat as much of it as you want! No one is overfat or feeling like crap from eating too many vegetables and home cooked food. No one.
I know, you’ve heard this advice before.
So why is your home still stocked with processed crap, or as Michael Pollen says, food-like substances?
For the kids? Why are you feeding that garbage to your kids?
Because someone brought it over? The garbage can is right over there.
Because you want to support kids sports teams? Just give them the whole $3 instead of buying the chocolate bar.
You want to live a healthier life. You want to eat well. You want to feel better. Yet you constantly set yourself up for failure.
An alcoholic doesn’t stock their house with spirits and wine just so they are there when a friend comes over. They can’t. They would never successfully curb their addiction.
This pseudo-food is an addiction. It has been crafted to addict us and huge segments of our modern culture have been crafted to drive us towards it. There is only one way to truly make a change.
Get rid of it. Don’t have it around. Don’t buy it.
If it is there you are going to eat it.
It really is just that simple.