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May 14, 2021
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Behaviour

Does your environment support the behaviour change you want to make?

We can’t always control the food environment around us, but our home environment is one that we can modify more than others. Creating a home environment that supports the behaviour change you want to make can make it easier to sustain that new healthy habit!

Changing our behaviour isn’t an easy task! What can make it more difficult is our environment not supporting our behaviour changes. For example, if you’re hoping to cut down on processed snacks, but find yourself in line at the grocery store next to a very appealing display of half-priced treats, it can be really difficult to say no! In Wendy Wood’s book ‘Good Habits, Bad Habits’, she discusses how context (eg. the proximity of the treats to where you are), can have a big impact on our behaviour. If the half-priced treats were tucked away in a hidden corner of the store, it’s likely you wouldn’t notice them and buy them. 

Unfortunately, our environment doesn’t always support us making the best food choices for ourselves. In fact, often our environment makes the better food choice that much harder! 

Whether that’s the foods that are offered in a workplace cafeteria, or the snacks purchased by family members and left out on the kitchen counter. 

We can’t always control every environment, but one of the easier ones we can control (and the one we’ve all been spending a lot of time in recently), is our home environment. 

Here are some tips on how to change your home environment to make it more supportive of the behaviour changes you want to make:

  1. When you walk into the kitchen, what is the first thing you notice? Consider putting fruits on display in a bowl on the kitchen counter, and nourishing snacks such as pre-cut veggies and hummus on the middle shelf in the refrigerator. If these types of foods are within your eye line, they are much more likely to be consumed as the first option.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind: If there are foods in your home that you are hoping to decrease the consumption of, consider placing them in hard to reach areas and hidden from view. Creating this sort of ‘friction’ by making the foods not easily noticeable and accessible, could decrease the chance they’re the first thing you reach for when you are ready to eat. 
  3. Do you want to have this around? Your home is your own sacred space, and you have control over what is in it, and what isn’t. If you are hoping to decrease the consumption of certain foods, consider not bringing them into your home in the first place. Again, if it’s not easily accessible, the chance of consuming it decreases.
  4. Home environment and your family: Discuss with your household members the food environment you want to create. Some of the above options may be difficult if other household members don’t have the same behaviour change goals as you. Would it be helpful to discuss with them why creating a more supportive home environment is important to you? Having the support of your loved ones can make sustaining behaviour change that much easier!
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