Something I hear very often is “I just don’t know why I have no willpower to stick to a diet”. So I thought it would be helpful if I explain in this post some of the reasons why you may be finding it hard to change your diet and lifestyle - because most people actually find it very difficult to find the willpower to make changes to their diet. So no - there is absolutely nothing wrong with you because you find it impossible to change your diet and lifestyle. Here are some of the reasons why you may find you have no willpower to make the changes you want to make:
1. You are stressed or tired (or drunk)
Both stress and sleep deprivation affect the part of our brain that controls our willpower. This part of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex) is also affected by alcohol - and it is why you may make poor food choices (and other bad choices?!) when you are drunk. So if you are trying to eat more healthily but are also stressed at work and not getting enough sleep - it is no wonder that you have no willpower to change your diet.
2. You are trying to change too much at once
There is something called “willpower fatigue” that kicks in when we are trying to change too much at once. Basically most of our decisions around food are just habits, that we engage in automatically i.e. we make certain food choices, because we have made them day-in-and-day-out. So when we try and drastically overhaul our diet overnight, we can stick to this for a day or two ... but soon we experience “willpower fatigue” and then we just throw it all in.
3. You are changing your diet because you feel fat
This is a trap I see a lot of people get completely stuck in. They want to change their diet because they feel fat but then every time they feel bad about themselves because they feel fat - they end up turning to unhealthy food to cope and to make themselves feel better. Trying to change your diet whilst feeling bad about yourself can often get you trapped in the cycle of starving yourself and then over-eating on food in the evenings to try and make yourself feel better.
4. You use food to cope with emotions
When we are emotionally triggered, for example, when we feel sad or lonely or angry - the part of our brain that controls our willpower (the pre-frontal cortex), just does not work as well. So if you often use food to cope with your emotions, you may be noticing that you just seem to have no willpower to change your diet. Is is because, when you are emotionally triggered, you really don’t have much willpower anymore - so there is nothing stopping you going for that unhealthy food.
So this has all been probably been pretty depressing to read - and you are probably wondering, so how do I go about changing my diet then? Well the key really lies in building new healthy habits around food, managing stress and improving your sleep quality, developing new coping mechanisms to deal with your emotions as well as boosting your self-esteem and confidence. Basically you have to address this problem from lots of different angles.
These are all topics covered in my 12-week online course in food psychology. This course is designed to help you to get back in control of your food choices and re-build your relationship with food. You can find out more about the course here: www.thefoodtherapyclinic.com/onlinecourse. You can also try out the course risk-free - you can buy the course and use it for 5 days and if you don’t think it is right for you, I will give you your money back.
This is your world
You’re the creator
Find freedom on this canvas
Believe, that you can do it,
‘Cuz you can do it.
You can do it.”
― Bob Ross