Another important thing to be mindful of is that in-the-moment willpower is rarely, if ever, enough. Trying to choose brown rice over peanut M&Ms is especially challenging if you've always got an open bag of peanut M&Ms in your pocket—and for many of us, an app-loaded smartphone is just that. Rather than try to overcome the evolutionary mismatch in the moment, it's better to anticipate it and avoid putting your brain in the position to consume the equivalent of candy all day. The more you can design your environment to favor brown-rice-and-potato activities, the better. (This is precisely why I have no social media apps or internet on my phone. This simple change—though quite hard at first—has had an enormous impact on my life.)
Unfortunately, choosing brown rice and potatoes over candy is made even harder because evolution also programmed us to experience fear of missing out (FOMO), especially in social situations. Thousands of years ago, FOMO worked to our advantage, ensuring we'd always be in the know and never miss an opportunity to share a meal with our tribe or hear about lurking predators or a warring faction nearby. Now, however, FOMO keeps us glued to our screens, addicted to news, relevance, retweets, and likes—all of which, when consumed heavily, have little (if any) marginal benefit and cause anxiety and restlessness. Fortunately, the brain is good at learning. Once we start to shift more of our time and energy toward brown-rice-and-potato activities, especially if we can make it through the first month or so, we start to feel pretty good. This effect is compounded if we undertake the journey with others, perhaps by agreeing as a group to limit social media consumption or by organizing a group hike. This is a big part of why groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are so effective. The mix of gradually feeling good and socially supported—which counters FOMO—makes it easier to overcome the evolutionary mismatches that are all around us. Just as doing shallow and superficial activities can create a vicious cycle, doing deep and meaningful activities can create a virtuous one.