I’m currently reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, a book dedicated to helping us master our habits. In the book, she offers suggestions and ideas as to why we have certain habits, as well as how to form good habits, based on our particular characteristics.
Within the book, Gretchen brought up a point which really struck me as I was reading through it the other night. She talked about convenience, and how we often base our habits around what is easy and convenient. I found this fascinating, as it applies directly to my life, as well as the message that I preach about real food.
I’ll be the first to admit that I often rely on convenience in regards to certain aspects of my life. For instance, I hate going out of my way while driving, walking, or running errands. I like to follow a path that makes sense and saves me time and mileage. Last week, my mom texted me and asked me to stop at Walmart in Norfolk on my way from Lincoln to Norfolk. At first, I scoffed at the idea, as it would be well out of my way to stop at the Walmart in Norfolk. But after I thought about the logistics of the errand for a few minutes, I decided to stop on my way out of town in Lincoln, in order to avoid the inconvenience.
On the other hand, what others may view as inconvenient, I find enjoyable, such as prepping food for several days at a time. I do not mind cutting up a large batch of vegetables, bulk cooking them, and storing them away for the rest of the week. I almost always refuse to buy the precut vegetables, even though they are convenient, as the cost is often significantly higher.
The convenience-factor is often why people shy away from purchasing fresh vegetables and real food in general: the prep time and amount of work involved is perceived to be much greater than processed, packaged food. Yes, I will admit that the prepacked ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese are convenient, but are they convenient for your health?
In the short term, no.
These packaged foods leaving us feeling poor, as they spike our blood sugar and leave us feeling bloated, tired, or simply yucky!
In the long term, these foods are also not convenient for our health. They will eventually lead to increased medical costs and doctor visits, as well as a lowered quality of living.
In addition, the increase in the popularity of “healthy” convenience foods has become overwhelming. These packaged foods boast loudly on their packaging that they are healthy, low-fat, low-calorie, etc. However, are they really any better? Often times, they aren’t! What replaces the fat? Sugar! What makes them low-calorie? Chemicals and unsatiating carbs!
Does this make sense? Just because a food is convenient, does not mean that it is healthier. When we seek out food and form habits solely on convenience alone, we can fall into an unhealthy trap.
On the other hand, can we use convenience to form healthy habits in our lives? Of course! Maybe you are willing to pay more for precut vegetables and fruit. If this is what it takes for you to start eating real food (NOT “healthy” packaged food, I’m talking about real produce here, like cut up broccoli and cauliflower) then by all means, go for it!
Here’s another example: if you struggle finding the time or motivation to go your local gym, rearrange your daily route so that you pass by the gym during your commute. That way, you have no excuse not to stop! Or, rent a monthly locker at the gym and keep a change of clothes and shoes there at all times, giving you the ability to drop in at any time. I do this at the campus rec center. It is so nice to always have my shoe and a change of clothes on hand.
Habits are often based on the concept of convenience, which can be positive or negative. Examine your daily habits – are they based on convenience? Is there a way that you could change your habits to reflect the positive aspects of convenience, rather than the negative?
If you are interested in this topic and want to explore more about your daily habits, or even if you just need a new book to read, I highly recommend Better Than Before as your next read!
Find more from Gretchen here: https://gretchenrubin.com/
Buy the book here: Better Than Before