Why? The Most Powerful Word.

I truly believe that it is not due to ignorance that people choose to eat badly. Gone are the days where we can say, ‘I didn’t know…’.  Gone are the days where we can justify fast food for lunch due to lack of options. Gone are the days where we shake the Aromat bottle and truly believe it is good for our bodies.

Body_whyWhy? Healthy eating has become a media trend. Every magazine now seems to have a recipe section. Television adverts promote people eating colourful foods and sipping on water, oh so glamorously. Daily social media posts contain dietary trends or eating plan advice – both receiving tons of likes and shares. Public figures are now even known for the way they choose to feed their bodies. I won’t mention any names but we have multiple South African public figures putting their names behind diets, fitness programs, supplements and dietary guidelines – I am one of them! Healthy eating is just everywhere, so why then do people still not choose to eat healthy, nourishing food?

As I have said before in many a blog post, eating is linked to much more than just the ‘feeding our cells’ element that it fulfills. Eating is an incredibly emotionally charged behavior. And if it isn’t lack of food knowledge then it must be emotions that make us choose foods that we know aren’t healthy or necessary for our bodies. It is difficult to understand this concept without actually living in the moment and observing your actions. A tool that is helpful is asking the question, Why am I eating this right now? Watch yourself the next time you reach for a ready-made meal at the 24 hour – garage shop on the way home from work. Ask yourself, why, in trying to improve our eating behavior.

WHY am I eating this?
Here are some of the possible answers:

  • You haven’t shopped in weeks, your fridge is bare and you are starving
  • You are too lazy to cook tonight, its been a long day
  • You are absolutely staving as you forgot to eat lunch, so this meal will literally save your life
  • You love the taste of this dish, and you really don’t care what it is that makes it so delicious, it is just the taste that matters!

If we ask why (again) after each of the above statements, we will see that an emotional reason is at the root of each point. Here are some of my, answers to ‘why’, for the choices above choices I made:

  • You haven’t shopped in weeks, your fridge is bare and you are starving. Laziness is the reason I have not shopped, I know that if I have healthy food at home I will be more likely to eat well and look after myself
  • You are too lazy to cook tonight, its been a long day. I allow myself to justify eating badly due to stress and time constraints at work. I know that time management and being organized is imperative to eating well.
  • You are absolutely staving as you forgot to eat lunch, so this meal will literally save your life. I didn’t make my nutrition a priority by missing lunch and this has caused me to make a bad food decision.  Again planning and effort within the food space would have helped me nourish my body.
  • You love the taste of this dish, and you really don’t care what it is that makes it so delicious, it is just the taste that matters! You are ignoring the fact that your health is an important part of your life. Pretending that you don’t care is silly, because when you get sick you will wish you had cared a little more. I call this the ‘ostrich move’ – as we all do it sometimes!

Now if we had just asked WHY before we had done the deed, we may have been able to avoid a poor decision that we will inevitably feel guilty about. This is not to say that you should never make a poor food choice ever again. But, if one understands why we are making this decision, we are more likely to make the right choice -the right choice for your health.

I have started asking why before everything I eat or drink – healthy or unhealthy. This powerful little word has really helped me to understand the emotions that I have attached to my food choices. This makes me feel powerful and equipped to work at my healthy body, every single day!

Kelly Lynch
Registered Dietician