Why don’t we eat better?

No doubt you’ve heard all the good advice about eating healthier, about losing weight, about getting exercise and so on. In fact, you’ve probably heard those things so many times you can recite them by heart. And you’ve probably heard people say they know they should do better but… [insert excuse of the day here].

Good intentions just won’t get the job done. We all know we need to eat better, be more active and take on the battle for the waistline of America. We even know what we need to do to accomplish those goals. And yet, we don’t do it. Why?

We at The Bachelor’s Kitchen have been asking that question for a long time. Why, if we know more about food and nutrition and what you need to do to be healthier and thinner, don’t we do it? Why don’t we put our money where our mouth is? (That works on so many levels.)

For one thing, changing our habits is hard. It means stepping out of your comfort zone and changing lots of little things. In other words, it’s a mental game. You have to start by asking why you want to make these changes. Believe it or not, there are some not-very-good reasons for wanting to make dietary and lifestyle changes. These changes take commitment. If you just want to be able to fit into that outfit for the college reunion, that’s not good enough. Motivation becomes key. You have to make changes you can sustain.

That’s why so many diets don’t work. They offer temporary improvements and can even cause long-term harm. Any changes you make should be something you can actually accomplish and live with for the rest of your life.

You also have to consider your lifestyle. No one wants to spend hours over a stove after a long day of work. You might have a greater opportunity to eat a full meal at lunchtime rather than dinner.

Next you have to look at what kind of changes you’d like to make. Big, sweeping changes will most likely fail. That doesn’t mean you can’t make dramatic changes. It just means you have to break them down into manageable bites. For example, say you decide to cut out all carbohydrates because you’ve heard about dramatic weight loss of people who’ve followed diets like Atkin’s. But if you do it all at once, those carbs are going to be something you will crave ceaselessly. Before long, you will undoubtedly give in and reach for some sort of high-carb comfort food. Start with a campaign of small goals. Resolve to cook and eat dinner at home one more night each week than you do currently. Have a big, healthy salad for lunch at least one day a week. Commit to a day of meatless meals. Just don’t try to do this all at once. Perhaps you could make a list of little things you can do and plan to cross one and only one off the list each week for the next several months.

One thing I hear all the time is: “I don’t have time to… [insert good habit here].” “I don’t have time to cook. I don’t want to cook when I get home from work. I have better things to do on the weekend. I like meat. I need comfort foods.” Okay, let’s run with that. These excuses are just that – excuses. No one says you can never eat out again. No one wants to spend a lot of time cooking after a hard day of work. You don’t have to give up eating meat, just eat less. In other words, you don’t have to completely change your life all at once. A small investment in time can make a huge difference.

What it seems to come down to is that we don’t do what we know is good for us out of bad habit and lack of motivation. We’ve seen people do some marvelous things when they have a really good reason to make a change. We in The Bachelor’s Kitchen have done it and we know it isn’t easy. We also understand how hard it can be to sustain that. But if you do make the commitment, the world will thank you, your body will thank you, your friends and family will thank you. Care about yourself, as well as for yourself. You’re worth it.