I once spent a weekend as part of a wedding party with a bunch of PhDs from Carnegie Mellon University. Super academics are like the rest of us—except they like to talk about the subject at hand at least three times longer than you do. They tend to have a lot of super academic ideas that are well researched, incredibly theoretical and when applied practically will damn near kill you. One conversation from that weekend has really stuck with me. It’s the idea of “food of least effort” which was shortened to FLE.
Your FLE is what you reach for when you are hungry, and you will do it without thinking. Yeah, we’re calling food fleas, they are academics, not marketing people. Stick with me. Ok, so we all have a FLE we go for — for me it used to be turkey sandwiches with mayo on wheat bread. It’s the thing you always have stocked and is almost automatically put on the table when it’s time to eat. You are hungry, you go for your FLE. My husband’s FLE is chips and salsa. I’m sure you have one, take a minute to think about what it is.
The idea that was floated about on this wedding weekend was that you can change your FLE and drastically alter your diet without having to work too hard to maintain the new diet. This is an interesting concept—making changes to what you eat is hard, but what if you were a robot that always made good choices? One of the guys (the groom in fact) had recently change to eating vegan. He found if he always had a pot of beans ready to eat in the fridge, his FLE, that he would go for them automatically. After a run, when he’d had a long day, whenever those moments that come up that bash through his willpower he had his FLE ready to go and could make healthy choices.
Willpower [momentum] is a cruel mistress (not my words, they were in a video my gym shared which has had some play all over the internet). Willpower is finite and will break down on you — so the key is to create good options when you are full of willpower that will make it easy to stick to those choices when you are low on willpower.
Replace your FLE, make sure you always have that option on hand. I did. My FLE is party pooper chicken. I make a bunch every week and it’s always there. It’s important for me to have cooked chicken on hand. If it’s cooked you can do a bunch of things with it in a hurry. You can even grab a handful and head out the door and eat it cold.
- Healthier Ramen
- Rice Bowl — chicken, 1 egg, cilantro, 1/2c rice (brown rice is another FLE I try to keep on hand, cooked and ready).
- Burrito — chicken, 1 Tbsp cheese, 1 Tbsp Xylitol BBQ Sauce and a wheat tortilla.
- Wrap — chicken, 2 tsp mustard, green salad in a wheat tortilla.
- Spicy Wrap — chicken, 2 tsp homemade (no sugar) sriracha in a wheat tortilla.
- Chicken & Sweet Potato Chips — the chips are labor intensive, easier if the chicken is cooked and ready.
- Salad — chicken, salad, avocado.
- Chicken & Veggies — broccoli, squash, asparagus, it all goes well with chicken.
- Chicken Tortilla Soup — minus the tortillas.
- Just Chicken — out of time and hangry? 4-5 oz of chicken will solve that in 30 seconds.
How could having a better default—a robotic FLE improve your nutrition choices? What are you reaching for now? What can you change that to?