Week 4: Willpower, it’s not what you think!

Imagine a movie where a couple on vacation has a fight and goes their separate ways. She goes back to the hotel room. He heads to the bar to have a drink, and kicks off a conversation with a sexy young woman. One beer turns into four. She offers to show him the gorgeous view from her room. He accepts. They head upstairs. One thing leads to another and well, you can imagine where this is going… So where did he go wrong? And what does this have to do with my health?!

His pre-emptive bad decisions led to an inevitably bad result. In a similar way, willpower is not just about avoiding eating “bad foods.” It’s about doing what you can to set yourself up to not be tempted in the first place. Relatively speaking, I’m reasonably strong in the “willpower” department; however, like our gentleman in the first paragraph, even the strongest will fail when they make preemptive decisions to put themselves in bad situations.

My “kryptonite foods” include chex mix, dark chocolate and ice cream. My in-laws can attest that when the chex mix is out at Christmas, once I start eating it somehow time elapses and I find myself in front of an empty bowl before I even realize what I was doing. So guess, what? We don’t keep it in the house. (except at holidays, of course 😉

So here’s my advice:

  1. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. You’ll make better decisions.
  2. Make a grocery list before you leave for the store. Don’t buy anything off the list. This will help your food choices as well as your budget.
  3. Find a healthy snack that will satisfy your craving, and be sure to have that on hand. Try an apple with natural peanut butter. Filling, healthy, and the peanut butter makes it feel slightly more indulgent.
  4. If you do have favorite snack foods (like chex mix) that you’re not ready to give up, the minute you get home, put them in individually proportioned snack bags so you can at least have speed bumps along your path of consumption. Maybe it will at least slow you down?

In summary, give yourself the chance to succeed at this crazy thing called “willpower”. The better decisions you make leading up to the snack, the better chance you’ll have of setting yourself up for success.

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