Have you ever watched an inspiring documentary like Forks Over Knives or read a motivating book like Eat to Live and then, feeling all puffed up and committed, determined that those Birkenstock-wearin’, granola-eatin’ health nuts were right all along, and now you’re joining them? For days (or maybe even weeks) you gifted said media to everybody and their brother with the assurance that it would change their lives as it had yours.
And then, gradually, as the life-changing film’s memory faded into the background of deadlines, soccer games, and Seinfeld reruns, so did your new healthy eating habits. Before you knew it, you were right back where you started.
“But I know the diet and the benefits,” many backsliding clients have insisted when I ask what healthy eating inspiration they’ve exposed themselves to lately.
“Yes,” I remind them, “but ‘knowing’ the benefits of unrefined plant foods and actively reading or watching inspirational material doesn’t have the same effect on your behavior.”
We are constantly barraged with environmental cues to eat bad food. From Arby’s to McDonald’s (and all their cousins in between) to grocery stores filled with packaged processed food, to glossy, star-studded “Got Milk?” billboards, and giant cookie-pizza commercials—you can’t get away from Madison Avenue’s efforts to influence your every dietary decision.
Please don’t allow yourself to depend on some vague, abstract “knowing” in the back of your mind to protect you against this constant onslaught. You have to fight back. One way is to limit your exposure to culinary enticements—cooking programs, cooking magazines, TV commercials, dessert display cases—just say no to the stimuli you can control. But my favorite technique for protecting myself against constant exposure to standard American diet (SAD) propaganda is to regularly educate myself with high-nutrient information through videos, books, podcasts, etc.
Remember how jazzed and hopeful you felt after Forks Over Knives? Well, you can maintain at least some of that drive by watching another similar video. Also, there are quite a few nutrient-rich websites out there with lots of information and resources. Perusing these sites frequently will bring previous learning to the forefront of your mind where it can help you make better food choices. Keeping this important information in the back of your mind just makes you mildly uncomfortable at mealtimes but does little to influence what enters your pie hole.
What to do Now
Your body requires regular exercise to stay fit, right? I mean, you can’t just exercise for six weeks and then be done with it (regrettably). Similarly, your brain needs regular stimulation to stay motivated. By choosing your stimulation in the form of accurate nutritional information (like this website, for instance), you can keep yourself enthused for the long haul. So right now, before life takes over again, decide on your next motivation workout—what will you read or watch, and when? Schedule at least one nutrient-rich media session per week.
Need suggestions? Here’s a list of books and websites to get you started.
Eat to Live, Joel Fuhrman, M.D. (and any of his numerous books)
The Pleasure Trap, Doug Lisle and Alan Goldhammer