Spring Clean Your Diet

Are there are few things in your diet that need a little attention?  Are there are few nasty habits that have reseeded and started to sprout into your healthy eating plan?  Has the evening square of chocolate become ½ the bar, the morning Americano and muffin top become a mocha with whip and the full muffin?  Did your 10 km run become a 2 km stroll?  What New Years resolutions do you have stored on your Good Intention shelf? 


It’s time to look at what stimuli you have in your environment that led to positive and negative behaviours.  The stimulus or cue can be subtle like a TV commercial about food or more obvious like the smell of baked muffins.  Either cue can make you forget about your commitment to healthy eating and regular activity.  Alternatively, a bowl of berries in the fridge, or fruit on the countertop are more likely to remind you of your healthy eating plan. 


There are negative cues or stimuli in the environment that affect your activity goals too.  For example, a rainy Monday morning will make you not want to get out of bed or a suggestion of Friday evening cocktails on a patio will make you not want to go to the gym after work.  These negative stimuli can be so strongly linked with learned behaviour that you unconsciously respond without even realizing it.  You can break these bad habits and regain control of your behaviours.

First you need to identify the negative stimuli, then clean up the negative cues and eliminate or replace them with more positive ones.


Step 1:  Identify – walk around your house or office and look for all the subtle negative signals you may not have realized were present.

  • Candies on the reception desk
  • Nuts on the counter
  • Snack drawer in the kitchen
  • TV in the living room

Now associate the negative behaviour that occurs with those cues – taking a candy every time you walk past the reception desk, eating nuts while you cook, looking for sugar snacks when you enter the kitchen or wanting to eat when you sit in the living room to watch TV. 


Step 2: Clean up – negative cues

The kitchen is usually the worst room for negative cues.  Spring clean your kitchen by getting all those negative cues out of sight and out of mind.  Check the countertops.  Put tempting foods in opaque storage containers instead of clear ones.  Put food away don’t leave it out.  Don’t just put them away in the snack drawer, consider moving the drawer or getting rid of it all together.  Next time you open the drawer it might have been converted to a table linens drawer or if you got rid of it, maybe you replaced it with healthy items you consider to be part of your plan but that require more than just grab and eat such as a bread drawer or cereal.


Next check the family room or living room.  What are your typical habits in this room?  Do you sit on a specific chair to watch TV and eat?  Make a conscious effort to sit at a different chair or move the furniture around.  Put exercise equipment in its place. 


In the bedroom what are your normal routines?  Do you press snooze instead of getting out of bed to workout?  Move your clock so you must get out.


Step 3: Remove and replace- negative cues with positive cues in each room of the house or office.

  • In the kitchen restock the refrigerator with cut fruit and vegetables, yogurt, milk and healthy leftovers.
  • Place a bowl of fruit on the counter or reception desk.
  • Keep workout videos beside the TV.
  • Keep healthy cooking or fitness magazines out in plain view in the kitchen or living room.
  • In the bedroom keep your workout bag packed and ready to go for the next morning’s workout.


The Bottom Line:  Do a clean sweep of your environment and get rid of old unhealthy cues that lead to unhealthy behaviours



Spring Clean Your Diet Spring Clean Your Diet Spring Clean Your Diet Spring Clean Your Diet