Don’t Blame Your Willpower

Don’t Blame Your Willpower

Emotional eating is a problem for many people. Our environment influences our relationship with food, and increasingly challenges our willpower.

Use positive self-talk to your advantage.

Certain strategies can keep us motivated to reach our goals.

“I blame myself for my unhealthy eating habits. I feel as if I have no willpower.”

Many factors in our environment make us feel as if we have no control over our eating behaviour. In fact, we live in an “obesogenic environment”, which contributes to many of today’s health problems. Two of the biggest influences of our food choices are: convenience and availability. We tend to make most of our decisions based on what is accessible to us, at home, at work, or in our environment.

Environmental factors may influence our decisions:

  1. Marketing and advertising

    Menu planning, using recipes, and creating a shopping list, lowers temptation in the grocery store. The less chips, candy, cookies and ice cream you have in your home the less available these choices will be. Be aware of the marketing of unhealthy foods: watching television, listening to the radio, and billboards you see driving down the road.

  2. Purchase less in terms of quantity and variety

    When purchasing food in bulk, divide the food into smaller packages as soon as you arrive home. If you are purchasing chips or crackers, purchase only one flavour. Our brain loves variety. This will minimize the risk of overconsumption.

  3. Question the value of a deal

    Marketing strategies are created to prompt you to purchase and consume more than you intended. Do you need 3 packages of strawberries, even if you buy two and get one free? Should you eat three plates of food when you are at the all-you-can-eat buffet?

  4. Reduce your temptation

    Store less healthy snacks in the back of the cupboards. Use smaller vessels when serving food and beverages. When eating away from home be aware of YOUR serving size. At restaurants don’t feel obliged to eat all the fries heaped on your plate.

Reduce Stress

Stress is the most common trigger of emotional eating as it impacts our appetite and food cravings. Stress increases the secretion of cortisol, which is an appetite stimulating hormone. The consumption of your favourite “comfort food” stimulates the “reward” centre in the brain which provides temporary relief of stress. The stress relief is often short-lived. Feelings of guilt, shame and regret may follow when unhealthy choices are made. It is important to have strategies for these challenging times to help you make healthier choices. Managing stress is very important for controlling emotional eating.

Strategies to Reach Your Goals

Strategies to increase determination, and stay motivated to reach your goals.

  1. Set small frequent goals.

    Try not to think of the end result that you wish to achieve. Break it down into the steps that you will take to achieve your goal i.e. take a 15 minute walk daily. You will feel good when you accomplish that goal, and it will motivate you to set another small goal for the second week.

  2. Ditch the negative self-talk.

    We need to improve those conversations that we are having. Become aware of your negative self-talk. Halt that unwanted thought. Replace that negative thought with a short, positive rebuttal, similar to a mantra. Say something to yourself like: I am doing great, or I am doing the best I can, or I can do this.

    Self-criticism increases our stress levels and unhappiness. It can increase procrastination, and make it more challenging for us to achieve our goals. We should practice self-compassion more regularly. Self-compassion can increase our resilience and improve our health and well-being.

  3. Work on willpower by ditching unrealistic goals.

    When your goals are small, specific, measurable, and achievable you believe that you will succeed. Your willpower to complete your goal will be stronger. Believing you have willpower can change your assumptions about your motivation. Our willpower is the effort that we make to accomplish the goal, avoid temptations, and remain persistent in the completion.

  4. Join forces

    Recruit a friend to help you accomplish your goal. State your goal out loud. Tell important people in your life about your goal. Ask your friend to join you on your journey ie. find a walking partner.

  5. Avoid the all or nothing way of thinking.

    When you don’t give yourself any leeway, and you are always striving for perfection, you are being too hard on yourself. If you are having a bad day, don’t give up on your goal entirely. Start with a clean slate tomorrow with a positive attitude.

#self-talk #eating-habits #foodie #marketing #stress #stress-eating #emotional-eating #willpower #diet #weight-loss #dieting #goals # goal-setting #nutrition
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