Willpower Doesn’t Work!

            We live in a world where unhealthy foods such as sugary snacks and drinks are readily kept in most households.  They are quick and often what we crave when we don’t have time to fix a healthier option. When trying to eat healthier and change our diets, we often have the mentality that we can use our willpower to avoid those unhealthy options by replacing them with a healthier one that we also have in the house. Unfortunately, this doesn’t usually work!  When we buy unhealthy foods, we end up eating it no matter how hard we try. Luckily for us, there are things we can do besides using willpower to avoid these unhealthy choices. Here are some tips that don’t involve willpower to help you make those healthier choices.

  1. Focus on your Environment- Setting up a positive environment that works in your favor will make your life much easier. The best way to do this is to simply not buy unhealthy foods.  If you don’t keep them in the house, then you won’t eat them. Making such a simple change will have a greater effect than you might realize.  If others in the home choose to have unhealthy foods, designate areas for your items and ask them to keep their items in a less accessible area.  At least you will have to work harder to get the food!
  2. Focus on the Positive- When you are thinking about what your diet, think of what you can eat and not what you can’t. Instead of thinking about how you can’t have the cookies and ice cream that you want, think about how you can have the delicious fruits and vegetables.
  3. Be Prepared- Meal prepping allows you to have healthy foods more readily available.  It also takes away the stress of fighting the urge to eat something unhealthy because the healthy option is right there. If you know that there is going to be an opportunity where you might be tempted with an unhealthy option such as cookies at work, plan to eat some strawberries or a banana during that time instead.
  4. Remember your Why!  Go back to our first topic and think about all the reasons you WANT to be healthy.  Take up journaling. It is a great way to get out of the kitchen and focus on more positive things and may also help you change a habit.  Oftentimes, we are eating out of habit alone.

Trying to use willpower to keep yourself from doing something can cause a large amount of stress. If you falter and eat cookies several nights after dinner or eat some ice cream, you might  blame yourself and think negatively of your abilities because your willpower didn’t hold up. All of this can create more stress which can cause a hormone imbalance as we have previously learned. Hormone imbalance can cause even more overeating and the eating of unhealthy foods to make us feel better. This keeps us in the never-ending cycle of an unhealthy diet.

To reiterate, willpower doesn’t work, and there are easier and less stressful ways to go about creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Following one or all of these tips will change the way your journey goes.  Try starting with the environment. As Brian Wansink stated at the APA’s annual meeting, “The secret is to change your environment so it works for you rather than against you.”.  Keeping this in mind while making these changes, will ultimately help you reach your healthy lifestyle goals.

For information on protein foods check out plant-based omega-3 foods.

Other articles to read on this subject are With Protein Foods Variety is Key and Eat Seafood Twice a Week.

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