You Know You Should Eat Better But…

You Know You Should Eat Better But…


It is impossible to count the number of times someone has told me they know they should and that they want to eat better directly followed by the word “but.” Then there is a list of reasons why they have failed, why it doesn’t work for them, why they are frustrated. Eventually they often trail off into the idea that they are weak, bad or lack willpower.

None of that is what is actually going on. Your body is doing exactly what millions of years of evolution has taught it to do, eating as much as possible of what it believes is the highest quality calories to make sure you survive the next famine.

Of course, our food source has been taken hostage by an industry that only cares about the money causing our taste buds to no longer recognize real food. But there is hope. With a little knowledge and some awareness, you can wrestle back control. You body and your mind will thank you.

You Know You Should Eat Better But… No Time/Too Busy

This was a common excuse prior to the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020. With everyone home now, I’m hearing less of this excuse. However, I’m going to assume that it will come back once the world opens back up, so let’s go ahead and be preemptive in addressing it.

We have to get over the mindset that feeding ourselves is an inconvenience (a story made up and pushed on us by the food industry). Moving past that barrier is pretty straightforward once you understand the lies we've been told by those trying to profit from what we eat.

Feeding a family used to be seen as “women’s work” and not nearly as important as other types of work. When women entered the workforce, they were still expected to do the fulltime job of running the home. Big Food happily took advantage of the mainstream idea that “women’s work” was an annoyance and that food should be “convenient.”

With the convenience they offered, shelf life became important and nutrition became unimportant. You know how this story ends so I won’t belabor it.

Bottom line – you have to change the idea in your mind that feeding yourself and your family is inconvenient busy work. What you eat is one of the most important decisions you make every day. Make a point to make it a priority by ignoring the marketing pushed in your face when you are too busy to think about it.

Our Addiction to Distraction

With the ability to pull entertainment out of our pocket at any moment, few of us spend any time allowing our brain to just wander. It is thought of as a waste of time. If you’re feeling you are too overwhelmed to spend even a moment thinking about what you are eating, it could be caused by the never-ending stream of incoming information into your brain. The radio, the TV, your computer, your phone, Zoom meetings, books, papers, social media. It is all a constant barrage of incoming information.

And your brain gets addicted to it and wants more. If you’re like most people you have information coming in right up until you fall asleep and it starts again the moment you wake up. Do you eat scrolling through your phone or while on your computer? How do you expect to be able to “hear” your body tell you you’re full? You can’t. You’ll just eat until your plate is empty. And if it’s loaded with standard fare, you’ll have eaten entirely too much fat, sugar and salt and not nearly enough nutrients.

What if you curbed your addiction to distraction and took a moment to think about eating? Are you actually hungry? How hungry? Hungry for what? Is what you are about to eat nutritious fuel that will give you the energy you need AND increase your health and longevity? Or is it just junk to stuff in your mouth without thinking?

If you don’t stop to think about it there is no way you can make a choice, you’re too distracted.

Decision Exhaustion

You likely know that some of the most successful people in the world make an effort to limit the number of decisions they have to make every day. Some even going so far as wearing the same thing on a daily basis just to avoid thinking about clothing choices. Even for those of us who aren’t so important as be able to get away with wearing the same outfit day in and day out, we are still making upwards of 30,000 decisions a day. Assuming you sleep at least six hours, that means you are making 28 decisions a minute (how is that even possible?). While that seems unlikely, a Cornell study found we make about 225 decisions a day about food alone. Talk about exhausting!

When your brain gets tired of making decisions, you’re going to fall back on what is easy, quick, convenient and doesn’t require any thought. Which could be one of the reasons your healthy eating plan works great for breakfast and lunch but then completely falls apart by dinnertime.

Instead of trying to figure out what’s for dinner every night, make a big batch of one thing you can eat all week. You’d be surprised how you can make a different flavor every night with a single batch of beans and quinoa.

Emotional Eating

Negative emotions like sadness, stress, unhappiness and anxiety aren’t fun. Since eating releases pleasure chemicals in our brains, it’s easy to drown our sorrows under fat, sugar and salt. Eating ice cream and drinking alcohol is considered so normal after a break up, there are memes about it. And with everyone locked in their homes due to Covid-19, day drinking has become so normal it’s not even questioned anymore (that’s a little scary).

But what is really curious is we also eat when we are happy. Celebrations and holidays are associated with food: birthday cakes, fancy dinners, wedding receptions. When was the last time you got together with anyone and there wasn’t food involved? Any and all emotion, good, bad or indifferent, is a reason to put food, most likely processed sugar and fat, into our bodies.

There are A LOT of tips and tricks you can use to overcome emotional eating. Too many for me to do justice here. I am currently working on a short workshop called, “Stop Emotional Eating Without Giving Up Your Favorite Snacks” that will be of great help to you if you struggle with emotional eating. Make sure you are signed up to get our newsletter and you will be among the first to receive it when it becomes available.

The bottom line

There is one thing you can do now this is going to help you overcome all of these excuses. Start getting more nutrition in your body. The easiest way to do that is by incorporating more plants into your meals and reducing/eliminating empty calorie junk-foods.

People just like you are making that happen by being members of the Whole Food Muscle Club. Join today. You body is BEGGING to be healthy and we can help you do it.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at

Stress Eating – Avoiding the Quarantine 15

Stress Eating – Avoiding the Quarantine 15

There have been a few memes going around about people gaining fifteen pounds while we are under a shelter-in-place order. They are funny, except that for a lot of people it is a real risk. This week I was asked to talk about how to manage stress eating in a Facebook group (video below). This article is based on my notes for that talk, with a few things added in that I have thought of since then.

What is Stress?

Stress is feeling responsible for something but not having the control to do anything about it. When this becomes overwhelming in a work environment we call it “burnout.” Right now many of us feel responsible for keeping ourselves and our family members safe while also feeling like we have to protect strangers from ourselves in case we have somehow been infected and don’t know it. It feels like we are fighting an invisible enemy but there is no actual battle going on.

What is Stress-Eating

Stress eating, also called emotional eating, is an unhealthy coping mechanism many of us use to self-sooth. This behavior often taught early in childhood. When a baby cries, we put a pacifier in its mouth. When a toddler is teething, we give them a teething ring to chew on. Children are often rewarded with sweet treats for good behavior.

Is it any wonder that as adults we want to put things in our mouths when we feel bad?

In addition, the rush of “happy” chemicals that flood our brain when we eat that perfect combination of salt, sugar and fat pushes the stress away for a few moments.

This combination of nature (how the brain works) and nurture (that we are taught to sooth emotions by putting things in our mouths) is the perfect set up for stress eating to become a habit.

What does stress do to our body?

Our caveman brain thinks we are going to be eaten by a lion. Cortisol (stress hormone) goes up. Digestion slows or even stops (who cares about digesting lunch if you are going to BE lunch) and your body starts to crave fast, easy energy to be burned to avoid the crisis. If the crisis is not short-term and the calories aren’t burned right away, they are stored for later use.

It’s a good system if you have to avoid being eaten. It doesn’t work as well when the crisis isn’t something you can run away from and is ongoing.

How to manage stress without using food

Move your body – do it with your kids

  • Laugh
  • Exercise
  • Dance
  • Walk
  • Tia chi/qigong
  • Shake – toddlers throw a tantrum. You don’t have to have a meltdown like that. Just bouncing your body while shaking your arms can burn stress away

Talk it out – clue your logical brain into what is going on

  • Out loud to yourself
  • To a friend – requires reciprocation and you might feel judged
  • To a professional – sometimes a stranger is easier to talk to than someone you know
  • Some pros are offering pay what you can phone, zoom, skype (I am currently offering pay-what-you can individual sessions to non-clients. Use the contact page to set up time to talk)
  • Small children can talk to their favorite stuffed animal

Write – have your kids write a story

  • Journal
  • Scrap paper that you can throw away
  • Shred or tear it up if you’re worried about someone else reading it
  • Just get it out


  • You can’t do it “wrong”
  • Online guided meditation
  • Z technique/Ziva technique

Get enough sleep, 

Good sleep hygiene

  • Bedtime alarm
  • Bedtime pattern
  • Dark room
  • Nothing but sleep, snuggling and sex in bed
  • People with a TV in the bedroom are less intimate
  • Continue to get up at the same time

Get a weighted blanket

If possible, have physical contact (only with the people who live in your house!)

  • Hug your kids
  • Hold hands
  • Snuggle on the couch
  • Have sex

Why we choose to eat junk

Our bodies are looking for quick energy. Processed junk food is the perfect source. A lot of the digestion work has already been done. The fiber is gone and the energy has been ground in to tiny pieces (think about the difference between a wheat berry and white flour), making it really easy for your body to get it from your GI tract and into your bloodstream quickly.

However, the fat, sugar and salt we crave for quick energy has almost no nutrition. Your body is going to keep saying you’re hungry because it’s looking for vitamins and minerals, not just empty energy. If you keep eating fat, sugar and salt, you can end up with a stomach that feels full (because it is) and still “feel” hungry.

How to avoid stress eating

  • Notice when you do it. You are most likely to stress eat in the evenings after you have used up all your willpower not yelling at your kids, remembering not to roll your eyes while on a video conference call and trying to figure out common core math.
  • Use your circadian rhythm to your advantage. Eat the bulk of your calories and nutrition for breakfast. When your body feels like your nutrition needs have been met, it is less likely to have you rummaging through the pantry at 8:30 at night.
  • Eat real food. Unprocessed plant-based foods are your friend. Beans, whole grains, root veggies (like sweet potatoes and carrots), greens, bulbs (garlic/onions), cruciferous veggies (broccoli/cauliflower), ginger, turmeric and fruits of all kinds.
  • Realize that snack foods are not a must. I know it feels like you need to have chips, cookies and whatever other snacks you like in the house. But you don’t. Like Chef AJ says, “In your house. In your mouth.” Don’t bring them in and you won’t eat them. Yes, this is even true if you have kids. They don’t need snacks either.
  • “I like crunchy food.” Eat a carrot. Don’t want to eat a carrot? It’s not the crunch you’re after. It’s the salt, sugar and fat. Be honest with yourself and adjust accordingly.

Reducing your stress is the best way to avoid stress eating. But, with all the uncertainly in the world right now, stress is a reality. So feed yourself well, make smart choices, and mitigate your stress with a few of the tips above.

We will get through this. Life will be different on the other side. But humans are nothing if not adaptable.

Stay healthy and be in touch if we can support you in anyway.


No other program gives you unlimited video coaching, complete library access and full-scale support for all things food, fasting, and fitness. Whether you need information, inspiration, or motivation we are here all the time, every time to help you improve in any way you need.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at