This morning I woke up at 4:00am because I heard / sensed my 4 year old son was awake and had turned the light on.
When I went in to his room, he was sitting on his bed eating cookies. He had found the packet of cookies the day before and strategically stashed them in his room.
It was a bit of a surprise for me, but I wasn't mad.
To be honest, I was impressed that he had planned ahead and hid them in his room the day before.
Cookies are hard to resist
And cookies are pretty hard to resist, especially when you're 4. Self control is something that develops as you get older. But as an adult, I still struggle with self control, especially when it comes to cookies!
I came across this little comic strip called SuperNormal Stimuli – which does a fantastic job explaining why cookies (and other processed food) are so hard to resist.
Will Power falls short
But the solution presented is will power – which I think is part of the solution but falls short.
It's easier if you remove the cookies
If you don't want to eat cookies, it’s way easier when you don’t have cookies in your kitchen – so you don’t have rely on willpower every time you pass the plate of cookies. Instead, you only need to use willpower once, when you don’t put the cookies in your shopping trolley.
Easy way to eat more fruit and vegetables
This is also useful when you're trying to eat more fruit and vegetables. If you have a garden full of fresh fruit and vegetables, then you will eat more of them without even thinking about it.
If you take away the tempting cooking and replace them with a garden full of fresh fruit and vegetables, then you are onto a winning combination.
Whole Food Island
To take this idea further, if you lived on a tropical island that only had ‘whole food’ grown in a local garden, and where cookies (and other refined food) were simply not available – then you would never eat cookies and only eat whole food.
Obviously this is not something we can do in practice, but we can use this principle to improve our habits and our lives with a lot less effort.
If you want to delve into this idea of environment optimisation further, checkout this article (where I took the idea from).