Barriers to Healthy Eating

There are some common barriers to healthy eating that are often stated by people.

comfort foodComfort / Emotional Eating

These can be things like high stress situations, arguments, being lonely or bored.  It is important to note that food is not the solution.  Unhealthy, emotional eating leads to weight gain which adds to your unhappiness.  You have to identify and understand what triggers your emotional eating.  Try keeping a journal and record not only what you eat but how you feel when you eat it.  Then deal with your emotions without food.  It may be possible that you need to get deeper help with your issues around food and eating from a therapist or eating psychologist but it is important to resolve the trigger.

To break the destructive cycle – before you eat anything ask yourself questions:

Are you hungry?  Are you experiencing any physical conditions that are signalling to you that you are hungry?  Is your stomach growling?  Do you feel weak or tired?  Has it been longer than three or four hours since you last ate?

If you concentrate on answering these questions it will be very easy to determine whether you are genuinely, physically hungry or whether you are eating for a different reason.  If you’ve determined that you are hungry, then it’s time to eat.  If not, it’s time for the next questions.

Are you depressed/anxious/unhappy?  Did you just get into a fight?  Are you anxious about a work-related deadline?

Whatever it might be, write down what you’re feeling and why you think you’re feeling it.  Getting in touch with your emotions here is critical.  If you can’t, you’re going to have an incredibly difficult time reaching your weight loss goals.  Dig deep and get it in writing.

Can you find an appropriate way to address whatever emotions you’ve uncovered instead of suppressing them with food?

Using food as an anaesthetic is easy in the short term but extremely detrimental in the long term. Looking problems in the eye is difficult, but once you begin to probe beneath your behaviour and analyze your feelings, it gets easier and easier.

It’s important to have an arsenal of recovery behaviours to manage emotions in healthy ways. Try engaging in a hobby you enjoy, reaching out to a loved one for support, or experimenting with incompatible behaviour, which is behaviour that steers you away from the self-destructive behaviour. For example: Exercise, take a hot bath, or get your nails done. Doing things that make you feel beautiful make you less inclined to binge.

Easy Access to Less Healthy Food

The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.

~ Ann Wigmore


fast food

Fast food is contributing to obesity.  Fast food is highly available and cheap.  Go down any street, strip mall and shopping centre and there is a fast food outlet everywhere you turn.  These options seem attractive to people wanting to save time and money.  But ultimately, they slow you down because they are full of empty calories and unhealthy ingredients that affect your health and weight.  They have no nutritional benefit – but they are consumed every day by one-third of all American kids.  CBS issued a report called “Fast Food Linked to Child Obesity” where they reported that 15% of teens and 33% of adults are obese.

This has contributed to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and malnutrition. When essential nutrients are gone from your diet and replaced by empty calories, your health suffers.  Malnutrition in our developed first world country is hard to imagine and yet many people are malnourished – they eat a lot of food, a lot of calories, but take in no proper nutrition.

Fast food contains too much sugar, sodium and chemicals.  And too many calories – all these extra calories cause weight gain.  The simplest way to overindulge in calories is to eat fast food every day. If you eat fast food at all, be aware of how high in calories certain entrees and sides have become. As listed by “The 272 Fast Food Items Highest in Calories,” McDonald’s Deluxe Breakfast (with large biscuit) has 1,140 calories–nearly a full day’s worth of calories for a sedentary adult female–and that’s not counting the added-on breakfast syrup and margarine.


If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food.

~ Errick McAdams


PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.  Set aside the time to plan the week’s meals and create a grocery list that you stick to.  This is the only way to keep within your budget.  Also set aside time to do bulk cooking for freezing.  Consider going meatless a couple of nights a week and using cheaper alternative proteins like beans.  For meat, choose dishes that allow you to stretch the meat further – stews that are slow cooked to make tougher cuts of meat tender.  Or if you choose a more expensive cut of meat eat less of it, meat should be a condiment, not the main feature of a meal.



timeTime Constraints

Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body.

Are these really time constraints or perceived time constraints.  What activities are tying up time in your day – tv, internet, chatting on ‘phone, email.

Again, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.  Meal planning is a time saver – it allows you to plan healthier eating with fewer trips to the drive-thru and more meals at home (higher in nutrients, less expensive).

Can you combine fresh and convenience foods together to make the meal faster.  Would frozen vegetables or canned tomatoes/beans make the meal easier.

Keep staples in your pantry that allow you create quick meals – bread, pasta, rice, beans, tomatoes.

By planning the week’s meals you can look ahead for extra-busy days so you can plan something quick and easy for those days.

During the week make your meals simple – one-pot cooking, Croc pots, steamed veggies, salad, fresh fruit for dessert.  Save multi-step for complicated meals for non-work days.

If you’re cooking chicken breasts cook extra and cut them up for another meal such as stir fry with vegetables and brown rice.  Or for lunch boxes.

Cook extra rice, put it into a container, and refrigerate or freeze. On a busy night, microwave it, stirring occasionally, until heated through, and then use as you would fresh.

Chop a whole onion, even if you only need part of it right now. Store the rest for another meal.

Grate extra cheese and store it in a zippered plastic bag in the freezer.

Breakfast: Snack-sized containers of organic, low-fat Greek or low-fat plain yogurt, a hardboiled egg with a piece of fruit, oatmeal with 1/4 cup of crushed walnuts or almonds, a slice of whole-grain toast with a light spread of almond butter, or high-fibre cereal (such as Nature’s Path) with So Delicious® coconut milk (or organic skim milk). Each of these ideas will take less than three minutes of your time.   Oats can be put in milk to soak overnight and don’t even need to be cooked in the morning.

Lunch: Ideally, you would take some time the night before or on the weekends to prepare healthy foods to pack and carry, but if that just isn’t realistic for you, try the following options. Buy prepared salads at your supermarket. I like to get Greek salad, tuna niçoise. Another thought is a sandwich — make sure the bread is whole grain and the meat is organic and not processed (look for fresh, low-sodium deli meat). Avoid high-fat condiments like mayo; choose mustard (it’s naturally low in fat) instead.

Snacks: Try nuts, fruit, low-fat cheeses, whole-grain crackers, organic low-fat yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs.

Your health is worth the time and money.

You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.

~ Jennifer J Freeman