The Truth About Willpower

We are in the back half of summer and if you are anything like me, you are realizing that your nutritional choices have not been the best. Why do we do this to ourselves? We know that we shouldn’t eat that third or tenth cookie, but yet here we are in a pool of shame and regret.

Throughout this summer I have experienced first-hand what I believe is the most important factor in making nutritional decisions: environment. Being in the process of a move with some stops in between old and new, I have been able to see the true power of environment and the simple effects of having the wrong foods in your household.

flat screen television
Before I moved, the food with the least nutritional value in my house was dark chocolate. Outside of that, I had nutritious, whole foods that would both fill me up and leave me satisfied. I almost never ate chips, cookies, or junk food because the foods that I was eating left me full and content. My hormonal regulation of appetite was strong and I didn’t feel the urge to eat something sweet. If the sweet tooth did ever pop through, I had my bite of dark chocolate and called it a day.

Fast forward to mid-July when living at family member’s house, and I have had more sweets than I have all year, I am eating non-stop, and constantly craving everythingThe house is loaded with nothing but carbohydrate and sugar-filled snacks that gave me little, if any, other options to eat. I did my best to stick with my meal plan and cook healthy, nutritious foods, but you can only walk past the Pop-Tarts, Oreos, and Cheeze-Its so many times before caving in.

No matter how much will-power you have and no matter how mentally-tough or disciplined you are, if you continually surround yourself with junk foods you will eventually give-in and find yourself on a slippery slope to donuts, cookies, and chips. The most important step you can take to ensure that you are consuming healthy and nutritious foods is to remove all sources of poor nutrition and replace them with nothing but whole, nutritious foods. When you don’t have the option to make poor decisions, you are not going to make many poor decisions. Think about it, would an alcoholic stock his refrigerator up with booze? Hopefully not.
pile of doughnuts

When you do face a sudden urge for something that you know you should not have, it becomes a lengthy process with check-points in order to get it. It is 10:00 p.m. and you are craving mint-chocolate chip ice cream. You open up the freezer and there is none in there. You really want it but you begin to have a debate with yourself. In order to get this ice cream, you have to find a store that is open, get your shoes on, drive in your car to the store, spend money… and the list goes on. Hopefully, at some point in the debate you will realize that it just is not worth all the hassle. Even better, you will realize that you are going through all this trouble to get ice cream when you have plenty of healthy options in your house, and you don’t even have to put shoes on.

People often think that will-power is something that some people have and others do not. While it maybe true that some have more will-power than others, will-power is more directly correlated with environment. No matter who it is, if you come home after working a 12-hour shift at work, you just put the kids to bed, you’re exhausted, and you open the refrigerator, you are going to choose the path of least resistance. What is the easiest option right now? You don’t have the energy to make an elaborate meal, you are hungry now. If there is a frozen pizza near by, you are more-than-likely going to pop that in the oven while you grab a shower rather than putting in 30 minutes cooking.
 
So make the decision now to have nothing but healthy foods in your house. Don’t have a “secret-stash” because you know where it is and you will seek it out at some point. Go through all your cabinets, pantries, drawers, and the refrigerator, and throw out anything that does not align to your nutritional plan and goals. If you are not comfortable throwing all that “food” away, find a local shelter or food bank to donate it to or feed it to the birds. Although, I’d rather see you donate healthy options because no one should be subjected to those “foods.”
abundance agriculture bananas batch
Changing your environment can make or break your ability to reach your nutrition goals. By creating an environment rich in healthy food choices and free from any all all poor food choices, you set yourself up to have the most success. You strengthen your mental, physical, and hormonal ability to resist unhealthy choices which will make situations when the environment is not the same as home even easier to respond to because you will be conditioned to make the best choice!

What do you do to help improve your environment and set yourself up for success? Leave your comments and tips below!

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