The route to a healthier, fitter and more vital version of yourself is not much more than the sum of all the lifestyle choices you make along the way. But here lies the rub: making choices and sticking with them is what most people find quite challenging. We like to think that we determine what we do, as well as how we do it and how much of it we do but there are quite a few factors that we typically neglect to think about. Recognizing these factors, including the temptations you are continually exposed to, can help a good deal!
Our health is partly determined by the environment in which we live, at least to the extent that the environment plays a role in influencing the choices we make in our daily lives. To explain this, I have developed a theoretical model that assumes that our behaviour is (roughly speaking) influenced on three different environmental levels ranging from the lowest (micro)
level which is your immediate personal context, through medium (meso) scale factors such as your wider social network or friendship group to the highest (macro) level which is the
larger society in which you live (Figure 1).
The higher the level, the less you can influence the environment in your favour and
the greater the impact of the environment on your choices. In order to make good decisions and get a better grip on your health, it is important to switch off your “autopilot” and see
yourself in the wider context - that is, recognizing how each environmental level impacts on you, directly or indirectly!
The higher the level, the less you can influence the environment in your favour
Micro environment: immediate and personal
The micro environment, as I call it, is your personal context,- the environment most immediate to you and which you can therefore modulate the most. The micro environment is your situation at home. In principle, you can decide which drinks are in the fridge and what will be on the table for supper. There are a few other relevant factors, as you will see, but you (and
your family members) mainly determine the composition of your daily menus in terms of what you buy and how you store it at home.
An example I like to give my clients describes a hot summer’s day. Imagine it: it is 25 degrees Celsius, a lovely sunshiny day. You have been working in the garden or you may
have gone for a walk or a run in the park. As soon as you enter the house, without thinking you walk to the refrigerator, which you personally filled after shopping. The choices you made in he days before this moment partly determine whether you cool down by drinking a hydrating coke - with the undesirable addition of so much sugar that you would have to jog for another half hour or walk for an hour to get rid of the extra calories - or an equally refreshing glass of water, perhaps with some mint, lemon, and ice cubes.
Let me be clear: if there is a six-pack of Cokes in your fridge, there is no doubt that a number of cans will be downed by you on autopilot simply because in the heat of the moment you will
grab them to quench a thirst. But even tap water would serve the same purpose. If there is no six-pack available, you cannot drink Coke and you will have to look for suitable alternatives.
Keep in mind that the time you spend shopping for groceries is crucially important. It will determine your behavior in the days to come. Your micro environment can be significantly modified but it is important to realize that, within your home, almost all the responsibility is yours!
In my next post, I'll be discussing the meso and macro level of the environmental model, so keep an eye on your mail, or make sure to subscribe!
Dr. Ludidi (PhD) is a nutrition scientist, and bestselling author of ‘The Dr Ludidi Method of Intermittent Fasting’., who motivates and inspires people to understand their bodies and how great food can positively change their lives. He is a top nutritionist, who works with elite athletes, artists, performers and business executives from all over the world, in his special Private+ Coaching Program. Dr. Ludidi offers help via nutrition programming and lifestyle coaching for sports performance, general health & wellbeing and more.
"Because science shouldn’t be just for the scientists."