The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want

Why is it so hard to eat healthy and exercise for 365 days a year? Are we really that weak?







We all know those periods where we just let it all go, eat unhealthy food and ignore the gym for a few weeks. Followed by self- punishing thoughts that we should be stricter on ourselves, should eat healthier and should go to the gym every day. Why we don’t succeed in being healthy for 365 days a year has two major explanations.

The first explanation is that not one single diet is effective in the long run. British research among 10,000 adults with obesity who tried to lose weight, showed that after ten years only 1% of them had managed to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. How can that be?

A diet is by definition temporary: it has a beginning and an end. When it’s finished, we usually fall back into our old habits and therefor in our old weight. In addition, a diet often is difficult to sustain. Each diet is based on the exclusion of certain products. What remains to eat is not so delicious that you will eat a lot of it. Weight loss may occur in the short term, but not in the long term.

The second explanation for not being able to keep up the healthy habits 365 days a year is that all the mechanisms in our bodies are evolutionary and genetic geared up to get as many calories as possible and to exercise as little as possible. In the ancient past, it was necessary to save as much energy as possible in order to survive in times of scarcity, when we still had to hunt for our food and there wasn’t always an animal or a plant available.

That is also the reason why only 20 minutes after a meal, our brain sends us the signal that we ate enough. And that the sugar receptors on our tongue are connected to the pleasure- parts in our brain. Sugar is in high calorie products that contain lots of energy.

Our old mechanism are in the way now. Because instead of running around all day looking for an animal or plan to eat, we are now spending our days sitting in offices, with food available anytime anywhere. Our genes and our brain are not adapted to our ‘ new ‘ living conditions. Unconsciously our body still tends to get as much and as calorie rich food as possible and to move as little as possible.

Nevertheless, no reason to give up. Although you cannot change your evolutionary and genetic ‘ unconscious ‘ side, you actually can consciously choose to act as healthy as possible as often as possible. If you try to make that choice as often as possible, you’ll find yourself in the bigger picture of a whole year, getting healthier, despite some occasional slacking here and there.

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” (Mark Twain)

(source: Leyden Academy of Vitality and Ageing)