What’s willpower got to do with diets?

dietandnutrition_Jan23_AIt is easy to feel as if you are a little flimsy with your intentions when you meet people who seem to have a will of iron. Let’s face it, life can sometimes challenge our good ideas, especially when it comes to following a diet plan. But what’s willpower got to do with diets? There are other ways to keep you on a healthy eating route to a fit and healthy you!

There may be exceptions to the rule, but willpower alone rarely works when it comes to dieting and shedding a few excess pounds. Understanding why willpower is not enough can help you find a way to successfully follow a new diet plan.

Deeper issues influence eating habits and weight gain – Why do people eat too much or eat too much of the wrong foods? Food patterns and triggers can be linked to a whole raft of emotional and physical issues which willpower does not address. You have to have an understanding of what lies behind your weight gain to be able to tackle it.

A quick fix cannot solve a problem that may have lasted years – The reason so many people trick themselves into believing willpower is enough is because it seems like such an easy, quick solution. You can paper over a crack but the crack will still be there and as tempting as it sounds, unhealthy eating patterns have usually built up over time. That’s not to say that willpower cannot be a great kickstarter to changing your diet and give you some really strong initial impetus to change but without other resources at hand this will weaken over time.

Willpower doesn’t encourage you to explore new ways of eating and discover healthy recipes – What are you teaching yourself when you just try to stop yourself from continuing an unhealthy eating plan? What’s the alternative? You need to learn about healthy eating, it is not about discipline but about discovering new ideas and changing your outlook by getting excited about different foods.

You need strategy, motivation and clear intentions not just a blanket policy – Kids who are just told “no” without any understanding of how they can behave instead are more likely to repeat their behavior. They are much more likely to behave differently if they are motivated to do so and understand the consequence of their behavior and what they can do to deal with whatever emotion is behind their actions. When it comes to dieting, there needs to be a clear plan of action too that is practical and helpful. Just saying “no” doesn’t cut it!

A slower step-by-step approach can sometimes work better than an extreme one – When people rely on willpower they often make grand statements or gestures. With dieting this can lead to an extremely strict diet regime which may bring immediate results but which in reality is not sustainable on any level. Instead, take a slower approach as you learn about your habits, your motivation and your goals as well as how to achieve weight loss. Start making positive change and the rest will follow!

Willpower can leave you feeling desponded through perceived deprivation – One big negative with willpower is that you have an overriding feeling of being deprived of something you want. With diets this is, in itself, not a healthy approach. This can lead to feelings of failure or knock your confidence and self-esteem if you do not measure up to the rules you have set and the willpower you are asserting to control your eating patterns. Feeling as if you are ‘missing out’ is an uncomfortable one and often the result of willpower gone awry can be swinging to the polar extreme. Overeaters who go on an extreme diet using willpower may crack and gorge due to the intense pressure which they cannot live up to.

Discover a healthier way to diet and make sure you complement your new eating patterns with some quality exercise too. We’re waiting for you to get in touch!

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