Once you’ve determined your health vision and set some goals around it, it’s time to set yourself up for success.
Yesterday’s step focused on creating a healthy-living “echo chamber” to help keep our minds focused on healthy habits.
Next step: Pay attention to how our home and work spaces serve us.
I’ve found that we must prep our environment so that it supports our efforts.
So what’s in your pantry and refrigerator? Do you need to toss old items lurking in the back, as well as unhealthy foods bought on an impulse or before you decided to shift your habits? Does your desk drawer or purse contain a stash of processed, sugary snacks that really don’t support your goals, but they are there “in case?”
What’s lurking, ready to trip you up?
Why It’s Important to Prep Your Environment
It’s important to prep your environment because when the going gets tough, we go into default mode.
Old habits show up again. And if our pantry includes unhealthy foods, we reach for them. That’s one reason I no longer buy certain foods. I know if I have them in the house, I will be tempted. But I do want some snack foods around, and so I’ve made different choices. More on that later.
But first we have to get rid of the bad to make room for the good.
This is a time to be bold.
Toss in the trash (or donate if it’s unopened and shelf-stable) anything that doesn’t support your goals. So this could mean candy, chips, soda, sugar-laden juices and cereals, sugar-filled condiments, and anything high in sodium, artificial coloring and preservatives. My general rule of thumb is to avoid highly processed foods.
So if it comes in a bag, box, or can, I question whether I need it or if I can find a healthier substitute.
What’s left!? I knew you’d give me some push-back on that. And really, you can keep a treat around, if you can maintain control over it.
It’s hard to maintain control if it’s in the house
I’ll give you a personal example of how difficult this can be. A few years ago, I started following a gluten-free diet. And I discovered some delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. However, I couldn’t control myself once the bag was open, and more than once I ate the entire bag – 10 or 12 cookies about the size of my palm – while I sat at my desk working. Now, I know I cannot allow them to jump in my shopping cart any more. So when I see them in the store I simply have to wish them well and walk away.
Instead, I find some healthier options to keep on hand. I buy dark chocolate and allow myself a piece or two. (It’s amazing when I recognized my sugar addiction and worked to change it how much better I felt and how many other benefits I saw.) Nuts and seeds give me my salt fix instead of potato chips. But I do have to watch portion sizes on the nuts, too, because those calories can add up quickly.
But before we can add those healthier foods, we do need to make room for them. And so back to prepping your environment by cleaning out your refrigerator, freezer, pantry, and even your desk drawer and other places you stash food.
It’s a big step to rid your home of these items, especially if you live with others who haven’t exactly bought in to your new-found eating habits. In that case, eliminate all that you can, and segregate what’s left on a special shelf for everyone else. You may be surprised how they really don’t miss some things that you thought they would.
Where do you need to step out and start prepping your environment? Your refrigerator? Your pantry? What’s your biggest challenge?
This article appeared as Step 3 in the “31 Steps to a Healthier You” series, part of #Write31Days 2017. You can read all about the series and check out other articles from it here. If you’d like to stay connected, subscribe to get my weekly Well Check delivered to your inbox.