Researchers at Cornell University determined that we make more than 200 food-related decisions per day. How many times can you choose to go the healthier route when faced with these many decisions? Let's say a co-worker brings in a box of doughnuts to the office. You think to yourself, "I'm going to reject those doughnuts and walk away." Great, a victory for you. Ten minutes later, you discover there are still a few remaining and you again make the decision to deny yourself the benefit of tasting one of the greatest sweet treats man has ever produced. Two hours later, there is one left and before you can blink, it's resting comfortably in your stomach. It is amazing we get anything accomplished with all this brain power dedicated to food decisions. Because of the many times we think about food each day, the key to success is keeping your environment healthy enough to allow yourself to make easier decisions.
If you still don't think you make 200 choices per day related to food, here are just a few sample decisions you may make each day: What am I going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Should I take another bite? Should I stop home for food or whip something up in my kitchen? Is that cookie really necessary? I'm thirsty, should I stop at Circle K? Does my meal require more salt? Do I have enough milk for breakfast in the morning?
The more quickly and easily you can answer these questions, the easier your day will be and the more likely you will be to eat healthier. Let's face it, most of us would eat better if we had someone who made all our meals for us and tracked our calories eaten each day. Start making meal and snack planning a priority. All you need is a few hours on an off day to do it. Also, see if you can add up how many food-related decisions you make in one day. This may give you some insight into your own subconscious eating behaviors.
Michael Murphy is a registered dietitian living in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at (480) 415-8803 or visit www.nutritiontoyou.com.