I’m generally a very optimistic person, but I’m also realistic and shy away from misleading people into thinking something is going to be easier than it is. Why? Because making long-term, sustainable health behavior change takes, well, a lot of change. And work. Preparing people for this work helps them overcome the barriers that will no doubt arise. Too often I see/hear those who have spent years thinking about eating well, good nutrition, veganism, exercise, etc as saying these things are easy to do. You just need to want it! Just be disciplined! They forget what it was like to not know what they know now. Think about that for a minute- what was it like before you had the knowledge you have now? Are you even able to?
When I broke my dominant arm last year I had to write with my other hand. It’s incredibly hard. Why? Because I’ve had a lifetime of developing the habits and muscles memory to use a specific hand. Switching over just doesn’t make sense to my brain. What is this we are trying to do?? That’s an extreme example though clear in how we learn our behaviors over a lifetime to a point where we don’t think about them. We interpret this as being ‘easy.’
Our world today is not just full of unhealthy food, but cheap, heavily advertised food served in large portions. When we look at individuals’ diet/nutrition from this perspective- the influential environment- it’s no wonder we are in a health crisis with rampant chronic disease.
The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that a young person in the US sees 3000 advertisements a day.
Three thousand! If those advertisements weren’t influential it wouldn’t be a billion dollar industry. It’s as if our environment has been engineered to make eating healthy as difficult as possible.
I’ve been thinking about this because this Wednesday night is my 3rd lecture of four at the Digital Gym (put on with Cycling Camp San Diego who are also hosting the epic Dirty Devil this Saturday!). I’ll be talking about this topic- why is it so hard to eat healthy? What are the factors working against us? It’s an important lecture if you’ve had trouble turning knowledge into action. You are not alone! The fourth lecture, on Wednesday April 1st, will cover the ‘how to’ of eating plant-based and healthy. You can sign up for both here for a discount!