I’m getting a new knee!
Therefore, I recently found myself sitting across the desk from Amy, the pre pre-admissions dignitary at my local hospital.
After reciting my full name and date of birth (and not for the first time—or last), I submitted to a round of questions from Amy and her pleasant disposition. Did I still live at ……? Did I have an advance directive? Had my phone number changed (since two days ago when I set up this appointment)????
Meanwhile, I noticed an orange jacket emblazoned with the hospital logo along with other branded orange paraphernalia scattered about her small office.
Appetite and the color orange
“That’s the same orange we use on the packaging for our snack bars,” I told her as an opening to propagate some WellBean.
But she didn’t take the bait.
“It’s supposed to be the color of intelligence.” She explained, turning briefly from her computer monitor.
Undeterred, I responded, “Orange also has the unfortunate effect of increasing appetite.”
“Oh, don’t tell me that,” she moaned and rolled her eyes. “It seems to be working!”
In fact, Amy couldn’t have been much over 30, but her career in health care had already endowed her with a fair number of unnecessary pounds.
“If only I wouldn’t eat so many of the wrong foods,” she went on, shaking her head.
Well, if I couldn’t turn her on to the WellBean, I’d at least educate her a bit on eating psychology.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” I cautioned. “Today’s food, especially refined carbohydrates and oils, are addictive—they effect your brain chemistry just like some drugs do. Specifically, they overstimulate the dopaminergic pathways in the brain, creating mild pleasure sensations.”
She continued typing and nodded her head in agreement. “I believe it.”
“Yes, and there are things in our environment that can increase the urge to eat—like the color orange. Of course, getting rid of your orange dinner plates won’t cure you of overeating, but it is one change (among many) you can make. You see, it turns out that the biggest predictor of behavior is the environment.”
How your environs effect what you eat
Well, my time with Amy had come to a close, so a pair of staffers lead me down a convoluted series of passageways to Sara, the final pre-admissions person, whose smiling shiny face bulged generously with the fringe benefits of the health care industry workspace.
Sara and I were too busy discussing chlorhexidine showers and general anesthesia versus epidural (I took the general) to discuss snack bars made only from beans, fruit, and nuts or how to eat healthy when you work in a hospital. But if I’d had the time (and their interest), I would’ve explained further to Amy and Sara the last part—about the environment being the largest influencer of behavior.
By “environment”, I don’t mean the air you breathe or whether you recycle or not—I mean your immediate surroundings.
Your immediate surroundings—not discipline or willpower—determines what you eat. Sure,
willpower can come in handy in a pinch (like when there’s only one piece of red velvet cake left at your great aunt’s birthday party), but there’s not enough self-discipline in the world to help you resist bad food in your vicinity hour after hour every day.
(And if there’s one place you can be sure to find bad food, it’s at the hospital. Alas, that is the topic for a future post.)
When you walk into the office kitchenette, what’s the first thing you see? A big bowl of fresh fruit? Or a home made plate of triple fudge brownies?
Your answer to that question largely determines what you’re gonna eat that day.
How to eat healthy
One of us here at WellBean (Patty) happens to work in an office, and the break room—where one can find a different delectable every day—has been the source of many a dietary breach.
I first suggested to her that she get the staff together to talk about what kinds of foods are ok to leave in the break room. Maybe they could band together to support each other in healthy eating.
Not surprisingly, she didn’t want to do that. Instead, she opted for my second suggestion—keep healthy treats on hand. So now when she finds herself vis-a-vis to that plate of brownies, she can reach into her secret stash for an Almond Fudge Brownie WellBean. Or when a coworker offers her a fresh-baked peanut butter cookie, she can turn to a Peanut Butter Crunch WellBean.
Fill yourself with WellBean. :-)