Why Do We Eat Unhealthy Foods & What Compels Us to Do It?
I have been following a “diet” for 20 weeks and joined slimming world recently. I have lost 3 stones 4 lbs so far with 2 stone 10lbs to go to target …and still one question I have continues to allude me with an answer. I still cannot work out why I eat naughty things, if I understood that bit I may be able to address some of the issues I have for the longer term…
Is it an emotional thing? Is it just pure greed? What compels us to eat things we know are bad for us and why do we still do it? Is it that we simply we just want to eat things which taste nice and temptation is too much?
I operate in a number of weight related Facebook groups which are amazingly helpful and really help me keep on track so I asked some of the participants a while back to help me answer these questions from their point of view and got some fabulous responses and loads of comments which really make sense to me. These are all anonymous contributions but I think they really sum up quite well how a lot of us feel about our weight issues and food…..
“I think it’s temptation that gets me!! We all want the bad things never the good”
“I’m an emotional eater, when I’m down I eat because I don’t care”
“Very good question”
“When we were young we didn’t know it was bad for us…. we just ate it…. our minds need to be trained now that it is bad….. Moderation is not something you think about when you are an active child … in my house you ate what you were given… I think that is probably the same for most people… we are now becoming more educated as our lifestyles are probably not as active as they should or could be…. learning through mistakes… failed diets…health problems……”
“Would be great if we could all eat whatever bad food we wanted and never gain weight that would be perfect for me”
“I think I just like food. Watching Supersize V Super Skinny and realising that some people forget to eat or consider it a chore was a revelation to me”
“I’ve been off my diet for a week as I fell poorly but went straight back to how I used to eat. It’s shocked me more than anything as I gave into my emotions and know I’ve gained weight as it is really worried me as soon as I stop the weight will pile back on”
“I eat them because I like them”
“Because naughty foods taste so much better”
“I think it depends on the item… some of it is an emotional link. As you enjoy things like chocolate, or unhealthy foods, we link it to happiness so when we are sad we tend to reach for these to better our mood…. also things like chocolate, have ingredients that are addictive and also release the same endorphin’s as when you have sex, so this means that the more you have them, the more your body wants them. But also – I think we do it because we want to – and we never really consider what it is doing to us, until it is too late”
“For me this easy, it is because it tastes nice & I get into the habit of nibbling. I don’t have an emotional attachment to food, because whenever I am under stress or ill or upset I go off food. I eat because I like it & I am naturally greedy”
“Because it’s a yummy temptation”
“I think they taste nice – or at least the thought of them is nice, often nicer than the taste (in regards to fast food). I also think there is a lot of chemicals/ingredients which are addictive, so although there’s tastier more nutritious food out there”
“I just bought several books on amazon with low GI low carb recipes to help me maintain after finishing CWP. Got to be prepared and it fall back into old habits. I survived this far not eating @rap and it has been relatively easy I can do it”
“I am an emotional eater for sure. I also eat when bored but this is helping me control my eating”
“I am still trying to figure it out”
“Emotional eating is my problem and boredom. If I’m happy I eat (not as much, if sad I gorge myself and tend to feel worse”
“I think if you can come to terms with it being a long term option to help in the future …some of us just cannot eat and get away with it…. I’m looking at it long term and have realised that I cannot eat what I want and that’s it. It sounds sad and a pity because I LOVE food and cooking but this is the frame of mind I have now accepted and it is working for me…. It is about balance. Exercise when you have the bad stuff…… plan your bad meals … keep positive about it”
A few words really stood out for me were MODERATION, PORTION SIZE & LONG TERM BENEFITS, before I began the plan I thought nothing of eating a 200g bar of chocolate all to myself in one helping, serious binge eating was one of my downfalls and I thought nothing of it at the time. I would also think nothing of eating a takeaway or a high fat meal every night of the week I just didn’t care at all and I think I can say hand on heart I will never do things like that again but I think healthy eating is a long process of re-education, it certainly is for me anyway.
This is one of the reasons I run this website adding recipes and tips and really thinking about food in a different way and hoping to inspire others too. I am definitely going to purchase the low carb books I have suggested above from Amazon as I really think that although I have learned a lot in 16 weeks this is a life changing thing for me and there is no way I am going to go back to my old eating habits EVER…. so I will soak up as much information as I can about healthy eating and making good choices so I never make the same mistakes again.
But Who Is To Blame?
When I think about things and I consider a pack of 4 Mars Bars on an offer price is £1 for four and then I look at a bag of apples which are in most supermarkets more than a £1 (if you want decent produce) I do wonder if some responsibility for people’s bad eating habits is down to the Government, Supermarkets & the Fast Food Industry???
Or is it TV shows like Man V Food which influence us, I personally love watching the show although it’s a US show its always on Sky channels J but often the sheer volumes of food consumed makes me feel quite sick too.
Or is it convenience because our lives are so busy and cooking a proper meal is too much hassle and it is easier to bung a pie in the oven or a burger on the grill and through this behavior what are we teaching our children?
I always remember my mum making most meals from scratch when I was young so I don’t think I can use that as an excuse (and I am not that old either) – has our thinking of food changed over time, does cost come into it? I am not a snob but would rather eat good quality food than cheap @hit burgers and super market budget brands but people are on a budget of course especially if you’re a family with maybe one parent working so money has to come into it somewhere right or it is just laziness in all truth???
I don’t know the answers and it certainly opens up an interesting debate but….I think the answer is sometimes pretty clear I am responsible for my own choices so long as I have the right information and education on food right??
But without slimming clubs and weight loss plans could people like me really do it alone??