3 reasons why it is harder for some people to change the way they eat than others

Apr 12, 2022

The truth is, some people are not as tempted by food as others. They decline dessert, they stop when they are full, they don’t use food for comfort when they are down. And many people feel like it’s just not fair.


And it’s not. This feeling of unfairness shows how important this is to you. The fact that your weight / health / the way you look is a concern, shows it is a part of your identity that you value. I’m not jealous of others ability to sing because it’s not something I value.


Yes it’d be nice, but I put zero time, effort, focus and investment into this skill, which shows its true importance to me.


The very fact you have gotten this far into this blog shows how much you care, (at least to some degree).


But why is it harder for you?

It’s unlikely there is one single reason, and therefore one single solution as to why this is harder for you. But by looking into the reasons we can then uncover solutions and ways to move forward.


Some people will read this blog looking for a justification. A reason as to why it’s impossible for them and why they shouldn’t try.


You will not find this here. YES, it is harder for some people to change their habits and achieve their goals but that is just life. Everyone has different skills and talents, the choice is then YOURS as to whether you apply time, effort and investment into changing this.


I am a big believer in the idea of a growth mindset. That is, that we all have the capacity to change and the skills we have are not determined from birth. We all have the ability to grow and improve at whatever we turn our hand to. There are genetic ceilings of course, but we can all improve if we try.


1 - Your genetics

It is likely that if you are reading this you are more sensitive to the allure of high calorie food. That is, high calorie food gives you a bigger high than it does to those who can manage their food more easily. Every instagram picture, cake in a shop window and half chocolate hobnob on the Tesco floor (don’t lie, we’ve all been there) is more appealing to you than it is to others.


This can be worsened as the more we consume, the more we then need to reach the same high. These pathways that release pleasure become more ingrained the more they are practiced, and so for many, we are looking down the barrel of decades of destructive habits.


Your level of self awareness plays a huge role here and will initially be set by your genetics. According to Tasha Eurich, self awareness researcher, when questioned 90% of people believe they are self aware. According to Eurich, the figure is closer to 10%. As such many of us believe we have a deep level of insight and understanding but the reality is far from that.


2 - Upbringing

Were your parents overweight? Did they emotionally eat? As in, when they were sad/angry/bored/lonely? Did they use food as a reward for you? 


The aim here is not to partition blame. Your parents, and you, like everyone else, do the best they can, with the skills they have, in each set of circumstances. 


And it will likely sting if you have children because there is the underlying realisation that your actions will be being picked up by your children. 


We don’t learn to walk through verbal cues. We act on what we see. We pick up subtle non verbal signals. Even if you secret eat, the absence of healthy processing of emotions and the struggle is still evident and impactful.


Again, this isn’t to make you feel crap, but to create awareness of the reality of the situation (or at least my opinion of it) and encourage you to take action.


We are all products of our environment to some degree, and this will go part way to explaining why you act the way you do.


3 - The world around us

Culture plays an important part in our desire for certain foods. There are companies worth 100’s of billions of pounds who make their money by selling products to you. Their single purpose is to make these products as attractive as possible. Billions is then spent in enticing you to consume these products and finding the exact triggers that make this the most likely to happen.


TV, internet, magazines, billboards, product placement in films, celebrity endorsements, the list goes on and on. All expertly linked by the best in their field to get YOU to eat.


The more of this media you consume, the less aware of the impact of this, the harder it will be for you to break free.


The self awareness stat is key here as we can create more awareness and become more resilient to the world around. We can create more resilience to these messages.


And what can you do about this?

We can’t control our genetics but we can make ourselves more or less likely to be impacted by this. We can increase the amount of pleasurable hormones in our system or make ourselves less susceptible to triggers and cravings through exercise, sleep, meditation, mindfulness, healthy food, water, meaningful connection with others and activities we find enjoyable or stimulating.


We can create more self awareness through journaling, food logging and reflection and taking time to understand our actions, thought processes, triggers and emotions. 


Lastly we can make ourselves more resilient by consuming less triggering content. Less time being in front of adverts or changing the people you follow on social media. Having fewer trigger foods in the house and making decisions ahead of time about what we will eat can also help too.