Why Do We Find It So Hard To Eat Our Five-a-Day?

We all lead different lives and so the reasons why we struggle to hit our quota will vary from person to person.

Some of us are just too busy.

Some of us just aren’t culinary masters.

Some of us don’t like the taste of certain foods.

And some of us just run out of willpower.

In any one day, we can think of our capacity for decision making as a glass. We hopefully start the day with a full glass of decision making ability. 

We may choose a healthful breakfast choice like eggs, spinach, and mushrooms.  Then for a mid-morning snack, we grab a banana and a handful of nuts.  For lunch, we tuck into the salad that we prepped just before the kids started their day. Then as the day goes on, we’ve made decisions about work tasks:

We’ve placated that difficult customer.

We’ve planned who is picking who and what up after work.

We’ve glanced at the biscuit tin and persuaded ourselves that we’re just bored and not in fact hungry.

At each decision, our decision making glass is getting emptier and emptier and to add insult to injury, will power needs sugar!  Well, that’s a little dramatic, but it got your attention didn’t it?

Past research suggests that self-control relies on stable blood glucose, so in a nutshell, when your blood sugar levels are low, you’re more likely to run out of self-control.  Whilst anecdotal, if anyone has experienced the feeling of being “hangry” you may agree with this?

By the time we get home from work, our decision making glass is pretty much empty, there may be a few drops left if we look closely, but when we have a convenient meal facing us in the fridge, it’s just so much easier to grab it, and so we do.  In the process, convenience foods are generally higher in processed carbs so we get a nice little sugar boost too! 

As we’re eating, we notice it’s lacking in any vegetables, but vow we’ll do better tomorrow.

Tomorrow comes, and we do much the same again.

For many, they will say life gets in the way of eating well, so maybe the reason we don’t hit our 5-a-day is more complex than we thought.

So maybe, we need to think outside of the box. 

Top Tips:

-          Try to maintain a balanced nutrient intake throughout the day – always opt for protein, fat and carbohydrates at every meal – carbs aren’t inherently bad, it’s the type that you choose!

-          If you need to snack, prep them in advance so you don’t even have to make the decision to avoid the biscuit tin,

-          Ensure you are sleeping well if you want to restore your decision-making cup that is,

-          Start small – rather than removing anything from your diet, see what you can include – can you get one portion of fruit or veg at every meal? Can you do it for a week? A fortnight?

-          If you’re eating out – ALWAYS order a side of veg or salad.