The most important part of The Sleekgeek Food List is that you use it to shape your environment for the better and set yourself up for success.
Because your environment plays a much bigger role in your success than things like motivation, or willpower, or talent, or genetics, or luck.
Those things do matter, especially in key moments throughout life… But it is your environment that affects you every minute of every day, for better or for worse.
If you don’t put any attention into what kind of environment you design around yourself then you make achieving your goals so much harder than it needs to be.
(I spoke at great length on this topic at the Sleekgeek Dinner in June 2017. You can watch a YouTube recording of it here.)
Who do you think is more likely to become a smoker?
A kid who grows up in a house full of smokers, or a kid who grows up in a house where no one smokes?
Sure, there are exceptions, but research suggests that kids who have parents that smoke are at least 2 times more likely to become smokers themselves, and I’m sure you can understand why.
This is not about willpower. Those kids aren’t weak. It’s because smoking for them is hard to avoid. It’s part of their daily norm. It’s accessible and in their face 24/7.
(Image Source: Bransch.net)
Design Your Environment
At Sleekgeek, we have found that the foods you choose to keep around you and your loved ones at home, at work, at school, and at social events are one of the biggest environmental factors that are within your control when it comes to your health and fitness.
Simply put, you are more likely to eat whatever food is around you. Good or bad.
- If you choose to keep lots of junk food around… You are more likely to eat it.
- If you choose to keep lots of healthy food around… You are more likely to eat it.
Again, this is not about how much willpower you have, whether you feel motivated or not, or what kind of genetics you have. It’s environment design, and whether you are setting yourself up for success or failure by default.
Designing your kitchen environment:
Here are some essential basics on how to design your kitchen environment:
- Put healthier foods at eye level. Make them noticeable.
- Put healthier foods in transparent containers. Make them visible.
- Put healthier foods at the front and within easy reach. Make them accessible.
- Do the opposite for less healthy foods. Either get rid of them, or make them less noticeable, visible, and accessible.
Above all of this, it is essential you have healthy foods that are convenient, portable, and you can eat right away.
Some ideas from the Sleekgeek Food List that I use personally on just about a daily basis include:
- Protein: Tins of tuna, hard-boiled eggs, protein powder, biltong, and left-overs.
- Veg: Carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, baby tomatoes, sugar snap peas, pickles, and left-overs.
- Carbs: Fruit, rolled oats (microwave for 4 mins), left-overs like potatoes, rice, or quinoa, etc.
- Fats: Nuts, nut butters, avocado, coconut, olive oil, etc.
With this list of protein, veg, carbs, and fats, I can put together a healthy meal or a work lunch box in less than 3 minutes.
Stocking up on healthy food like this, while reducing or eliminating junk food ensures that your environment works with you rather than against you.
Clean House Policy
One of the best things you can do to get started and make it easier to stay on track is to maintain a Clean House Policy.
Two key steps in this process are:
- Stock Up: Keep more healthy and nutritious foods around (such as those on The Sleekgeek Food List). Make sure they are visible, easily accessible, and convenient to eat at all times.
- Clean Out: Keep less (or none) unhealthy and highly processed foods around. Make sure they are less visible, harder to access, and less convenient to eat.
Learn from past failures by identifying which situations you “gave in” to unhealthy food or “went off plan” because you did not have healthy food on hand.
Plan ahead for upcoming challenges that you might face (meetings, travelling, short on time, etc) and stock up or prep accordingly.
The end goal is to have a supporting environment that steps in to take care of you, even on your worst days. Those days when you lack time, lack energy, or lack willpower.
Traffic Light System
One of the easiest ways to do a stock up and clean out kitchen makeover is to use this Traffic Light System to help you figure out which foods to keep around and which to get rid of.
This is useful because sometimes it isn’t as simple as keeping healthy food around and keeping unhealthy food not around. We can still overeat and put on weight from healthy foods if left unchecked.
The way this strategy works is you divide the foods that you keep at home into Green Light Foods List, Yellow Light Foods List, and Red Light Foods List:
- Green Light Foods: Green means “go for it!” Foods that make you feel good mentally and physically, and that you can eat normally, slowly, without feeling stuffed or overfull. These are usually things like fruits and vegetables, lean protein, legumes, etc.
- Yellow Light Foods: Yellow means “slow down” or “approach with caution“. Foods that are sometimes OK, sometimes not. Maybe you can eat a little bit without feeling ill, or you can eat them sanely at a restaurant with others but not at home alone. Maybe you can only eat these foods once in a while as an occasional treat, but not every day. They could be healthy, or unhealthy. It’s more about how they fit into your lifestyle and goals. If you do keep these foods around, consider only keeping small portions so that you cannot overeat.
- Red Light Foods: Red means “stop” or “no go“. Foods that are just bad news for you. Maybe they make you feel sick, or they trigger you to eat too much, or you find yourself impulsively eating and craving them frequently. This also includes foods that you know are just flat out unhealthy choices. Ideally, don’t keep any of these foods in your house – if you do, make them less visible, inaccessible, and less convenient to eat. Only keep in small portions so that you cannot overeat.
Keep in mind that these foods can be different for different people.
Here at Sleekgeek, I (Eric) have nuts on my Red Light Foods List because they are so calorie-dense and I find them too easy to overeat, Elan has certain veggies on his Red Light Foods List because some of them give him digestive issues, and Meg has many different types of meat on her Red Light Foods List because she was vegan until recently and too much meat makes her feel unwell.
Similarly, I find that I’m OK keeping protein bars and even some chocolate at home because I do not find them super appealing and won’t overeat them too easily. They are on my Yellow Light Foods List. In fact, I even have 80-90% dark chocolate on my Green Light Foods List because I find I can’t eat more than 1-2 small blocks at a time but they are a great source of healthy fats and useful micronutrients.
This list is 100% personal to you. This is where you LEARN more about yourself and what works for YOU rather than simply following what everyone else is telling you to do.
What to do now?
Now it’s time to put this all into practice.
- Step 1) Download the Sleekgeek Food List.
You can read more about the food list here or go straight to the download here.
- Step 2) Think about how you can play with how noticeable, visible, and accessible foods are in your home.
Make healthier foods easier and more convenient to eat, while making less healthy foods harder and less convenient to eat.
- Step 3) Use the Traffic Light System to do a stock up and clean out of your house.
Divide the foods that you keep at home into Green Light foods, Yellow Light foods, and Red Light foods. It’s OK if this list isn’t perfect, you can edit and update it over time. Then, yep you guessed it, put the lists into action! It’s time to Stock Up and Clean Out 🙂
- Step 4) Share with the Sleekgeek Community.
We would love to hear from you how you’ve used the Sleekgeek Kitchen Makeover in our Sleekgeek Facebook Group.
What’s up next?
Up next is the Sleekgeek Shopping List and Supermarket Survival Guide.
This is where we will show you how the Sleekgeek Food List easily doubles up as a convenient shopping list to help you stock up on more healthy and nutritious foods.
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the Sleekgeek Health Revolution Newsletter so we can keep you up to date.