June 11


What Impacts Your Food Choices?

By Sue Ingebretson

June 11, 2013

candy, Cravings, fibromyalgia, food choices, impulse, influence, pseudo food, sugar, surroundings, TV


Reach for the Sky!

Reach for the sky … you’re surrounded!

If you grew up watching westerns like I did, that’ll sound familiar. If you didn’t, then just imagine being surrounded by the “bad” guys. And … you’re in a tight spot.

Do you feel surrounded by bad guys? When you are, your options are limited. You pretty much have to do what you’re coerced to do. It’s not about making up your own mind; it’s about following the pack either by force or by influence.

You may not think about it much, but what surrounds you every day has a HUGE impact on the choices you make. What kind of movies do you watch? What TV shows? What kind of books do you read?

Here’s an example of something I’ve noticed. I don’t happen to be a person who swears. I didn’t grow up around swearing, and I’ve never spent much time around people who do. It sounds coarse and “wrong” to my ear. In fact, to me, it’s not just annoying, it feels offensive and abusive.

You may or may not relate to my example, but stick with me here.

When I read books, I tend to like various authors, and then read everything they write. I remember reading a series of books written about life on the back streets of urban Ireland. The plots were good, the stories were very compelling, and the lead character was a woman that I’d want to see succeed – all good things in a book.

However, this protagonist happened to spend a lot of time with people who had very colorful – let’s say – language. She was surrounded by others who didn’t speak like she did. It seemed that there was a little of it in the first book, and more in the second, and the third had even more. By that time, I noticed that some of this more “coarse” language was seeping into my thoughts. It’s not like it changed what I said, but the fact that I even thought about it at some random subconscious level was weird. Once I noticed it, I made a conscious choice to stop reading that author.

The logical experimenter in me finds this concept very interesting. It’s clear that:

We are profoundly influenced by everything that surrounds us.

What we see, listen to, and participate in becomes part of who we are and how we act.

What surrounds you, and are they “good guys” or “bad guys?” Movies, friends, TV, books, etc. can either be great influences on our behavior or not-so-great influences. Some can be downright damaging influences.

What “bad” guys surround you each and every day when it comes to influencing your food choices?

I don’t happen to watch much TV. It’s just not my thing. Last fall, I watched a multi-part series on TV that I found enjoyable. However, soon enough, I found myself craving or having thoughts about foods that I haven’t even considered in ages. For the most part, I fast forwarded through the commercials, but sometimes they played while I washed a few dishes or got up to do something. You could say that they somehow soaked in through osmosis.

It took a few weeks before I noticed that I had thoughts or impulses about fake foods that I normally wouldn’t even think about. Suddenly it occurred to me, “If I feel like I want to grab a KitKat bar right now, what would happen if I actually had one in my house? Would I be eating it by now?”

The likely answer is, yes.

So, of course it’s a good idea to not have crappy – a-hem – I mean not-so-good foods in the house in the first place, but that’s beside the point. What about the long-term impact of my surrounding influences? What if I watched TV more often? My subconscious mind would be flooded with images of packaged meals, processed drinks, grab and go food bars, etc. – in other words: sugar, sugar, and more sugar ….

Sugar and Fibromyalgia

And, that’s just the influence from TV. It does make a difference what you watch, listen to, and surround yourself with.

Make the choice to hang out with others who are interested in building themselves up with nutrition rather than tearing themselves down with low quality pseudo-foods. Subscribe to natural healthy eating magazines. Review blogs and websites that promote “eating clean.”

I’m often asked what can be done about family and close co-workers who are not supportive of a healthy lifestyle. While you can’t change what they say or do, you CAN change how you act as a result. Do their comments make you want to stick your head into a bucket of Ben & Jerry’s? Oftentimes, unhelpful or unsupportive comments (from family members, especially), come from ignorance or their own fears. Some may include jealousies or competitions, but realize that none of these situations are really about you. At their core, they’re a reflection of the person who said them.

Choose to ignore the comment, or say, “Thanks for the input,” and move on. Make healthy choices based on your own goals and plans and not anyone else’s.

Now you get to have a say. Have you ever noticed reaching for an unhealthy food choice because of a subconscious (or even conscious) influence? What did you do about it?

Share below! Your helpful hints and comments posted here, enrich this entire community.

  1. Way to cut off tons of art that contains “improper language”, from Shakespeare and other geniuses. Do you put fig leaves on naked statues and paintings, too?

    What is the point of telling people to just immediately quit reading books that contain such language because it’s different from how they speak or because they might think about it? What’s wrong with thinking? How are people supposed to learn about the world and art if they only read things that are exactly like their life or that are only positive? Should someone not watch “Sophie’s Choice” because it’s a sad movie with some bad language? It’s a work of art.

    This is bad advice.


    1. Charlie — whether you agree or disagree with my post, I appreciate that you took the time to read it.

  2. Great advice! I think we can all benefit from becoming more aware of how externalities can have a huge impact on our mental and physical well being and how we can choose to respond to those external issues in a positive way. People will have different responses to different issues but the key is to recognize what YOUR triggers are and do what you need to in order to minimize the negative consequences in your own life. I do praise you for practicing what you preach in response to this blog post 😉

    1. Thanks for your input, and I’m glad you’re able to discern for yourself the intent of the post. Your input is valuable and I like how you said it’s not only important to be aware of our external influences, but it’s up to us to recognize how they effect us and choose to view them in a positive manner.

  3. I believe the kind of supermarket/food stores you shop in has considerable bearing on this and also the kind of magazines you read.

    Look at the trolleys of the people in the better class of outlet – better food, and less of it. Shop in smaller family retailers such as fishmongers, butchers and greengrocers, and you’ll avoid much of the processed rubbish on sale in the aisles of the major stores.

    I love magazines and subscribe to the monthly Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home type magazines – full of healthy recipes/food adverts, as opposed to everything less healthy screaming at us from the pages of the weekly trashy mags.

    1. Judi – that’s a great example! In my book, I refer to “perimeter shopping” where we shop from the perimeter of stores where the fresh foods usually are found. The inner parts of the stores have the processed, packaged, and less healthy options. Even better, as you suggest – farmer’s markets and places where you can find foods that are locally grown and as fresh as possible. And I love your hint about magazines. That’s a perfect example. Thanks for your comment!

  4. I am lucky to have friends that are relatively health conscience and also have ‘liked’ healthy food pages etc on Facebook so I am getting fed positive messages subconsciously. For example a recipe popped up yesterday that I made this morning for breakfast and it was great! Simply grated cauliflower and beaten egg fried (in a nonstick pan of course) as a pattie with avocado and poached egg. Simple. Healthy. Delicious. And the idea came from the positive environment I have put myself in 🙂

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