Most of us say that we want to be healthy, but life keeps getting in the way.  We work long hours, our “to-do” lists are long, we don’t get enough sleep or we worry too much.  How in the world are we supposed to exercise and eat healthy foods?

The term “food environment” is used in much of the scientific literature on obesity.  As humans, we can create a “healthy food environment” or a “toxic food environment” for ourselves.  

Dr. Anthony Sclafani has done some interesting research on obesity using rats.  For his research assistants to be able to run experiments on fat rats, they had to get them to gain weight rapidly.  Those first experiments used a ‘control’ group of rats which were fed regular rat food.  The second group was fed the rat food plus human ‘junk’ food.  The researchers found that the rats eating the chips, salami, Fruit Loops, pizza, peanut butter, cookies, etc. not only gained weight much faster than the rats fed a regular rat diet, but they ignored their regular food.

According to Dr. Stephan Guyenet, a neurobiologist who studies obesity, humans are hard wired to look for calorie density, fat, sugar, salt and carbohydrates.  Those foods cause excess dopamine to be released from the brain giving us a good feeling, much like a reward for eating the junk.  People also get excessive dopamine release with crack cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin.

It appears that many people are getting addicted to our modern foods including ice cream, pizza, candy, sodas, beer, cheese and chocolate.  Most of us, even if we are not addicted, will still feel compelled to eat these foods even though we know they are not good for us.

How can we avoid these temptations?

By setting up a health environment in advance so that good choices are easy and poor choices are more difficult.  If you can create a situation like that, you minimize your need for will power and you create a situation where the path of least resistance is one of health.

What are some ideas for setting up a health environment?  

Avoid restaurants as you don’t realize exactly what you’re eating.
Cook for yourself by making foods from simple single ingredients.
Avoid processed foods.
Eliminate junk foods from your house so that good choices are easier.
Plan a daily time for exercise.
Quit smoking by not buying cigarettes.
Don’t reward yourself with junk food. Find other ways.

Isn’t it time to take back your health by setting up your health environment?

Add any other good suggestions you might have in the comment section.

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