"First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not." -Octavia Butler
Working with people that would like to change their relationship with food, something that I hear every day is "I just don't have the willpower anymore". Many people believe that the only way they can change their relationship with food and get healthy, is by finding the willpower to completely change their habits over-night.
However, willpower is rarely what is stopping them from achieving their goals, here are some reasons why:
1. Willpower runs out. If you feel that you can only sustain dramatic changes to your diet for a short-period of time, before you then fall back into bad habits - that is not surprising. You only have so much willpower each day/week - and if you have made lots of decisions or tried to control lots of things throughout the day, something called willpower fatigue kicks in and it means that effectively your willpower runs out. This is why many of my clients find that they end up over-eating in the afternoon/evening - because by the end of the day, their willpower to "be good" just wears off.
2. Willpower comes and goes. Unfortunately, willpower never usually lasts for days and weeks on end. Our motivation goes up and down and this means that on some days we will have willpower but on other days we won't.
3. Willpower is affected by sleep deprivation, alcohol and stress. When you are tired, stressed or drunk - you may have noticed that you have no willpower to make good choices around food. Well that is because the part of your brain that controls your willpower (the pre-frontal cortex) doesn't work as well when you are stressed/tired/drunk. So when you are in one of these states, you are much more likely to naturally fall into normal patterns of behaviour. If your normal patterns are to indulge on lots of unhealthy food every evening - and you come home stressed and tired and then have a glass of wine... it is no surprise that you end up wanting more of that unhealthy food that evening.
So if you have noticed that your willpower just isn't helping you to change your relationship with food - what can you do instead? Build new healthy habits around food. When you have habits that you just perform automatically around food (that serve you and allow you to be effortlessly healthy) - it requires no willpower, there is no internal battle or struggle around food and you just naturally want to make mostly good choices for your health and your body. It also means that even if you are stressed, tired or drunk - that you are still likely to make good choices for yourself and your body.
In my 12 week online course Free Yourself From the Diet Cage, I help you to build new habits around food that you can sustain over the long-term. In the course you will also learn about the neuroscience which explains more about willpower and building habits. You can find more information about the course here: www.thefoodtherapyclinic.com/onlinecourse.
"You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine." -John C. Maxwell