The number one shift you must make to stop emotional eating, lose weight and beat cravings.
Every Monday millions of us start a new diet and tell ourselves “this time it’s going to work, this time will be different, this time I am ready”.
We will have more willpower to succeed. The number one shift is to stop relying on your willpower. You don’t need more willpower. We alway’s say if we had more willpower then we could stop the cravings, lose weight and so on. Willpower is a simple brain function. Willpower is a short term skill. It’s great for things like studying, playing sports, something short term, but eating and drinking are long term daily lifelong behaviours. Studies have shown that most of us have only 15 minutes of self regulatory capacity at one time. This gets depleted very quickly even just checking emails.To think we can stop emotional eating, cravings and our weight just by WILL-ing it, is ridiculous.
WHY WILLPOWER DOESN’T WORK
If we try to change a long term behaviour with our will, it is not possible month after month. We try to use our willpower to try to change our eating behaviour in an attempt to overcome emotional eating or lose weight, but combine willpower with the wrong plan. If you are trying to use willpower and apply it to a long term plan that you can’t follow the rest of your life, it becomes impossible to develop appropriate long term eating patterns and as a result, to achieve and maintain a healthy, comfortable weight.
After a long day, our blood sugar levels are at their lowest, which makes it hard for the brain to make a wise choice in what we should be eating.We start with good intentions. We exercise which depletes our willpower. We had a hard day at work which deletes our willpower. We check our emails which depletes our willpower. Then it’s dinner time and we just say “ Let’s just order pizza for dinner”. This is the willpower gap or also known as ego depletion.
FOOD ISN’T THE PROBLEM
Food isn’t the problem either. You don’t hide in the pantry or the car and eat a whole big bag of chips, and not know it’s bad for you. You do it because you are stressed, sad, angry, tired, or bored. We need to focus on how we think and feel at the time we reach for food. We need to learn how to reprogram our brain on how to think about food and to have food freedom. We need to change our neuro-pathways. When we rewire our brain about food, healthier choices come more natural and easier. How do we do this? We train the brain to make healthier habits. Our habits have a physical structure in our brain.
WHAT IS OUR AUTOMATIC BRAIN?
Our automatic brain is why we eat when we are stressed, bored, tired, etc. Certain situations have certain eating behaviours like ordering the same plate of poutine with friends, or eating chips in the pantry after the kids are in bed. These are neuro-pathways that you have created in the automatic brain. The behaviour feels normal, easy, familiar, and doing something different feels awkward and uncomfortable like writing with the opposite hand. It is our actions, not our intentions that determine our behaviour. The more we repeat something the more likely we are to do it again and again. Like each time we engage in unhealthy eating, the likely hood of doing it again goes way up.
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT
The good news is that it is not your fault. You are not weak, you have just been relying on the part of your brain that can’t shoulder that kind of responsibility. We can create new healthy habits around eating. We can force different neurons to fire together to produce new healthy habits.This means no more buckets of willpower. Your brain can be reprogrammed and rewired through actions, behaviours, and new habits. Every time you engage in a new healthy behaviour, we increase the likelihood that we will do it again and again until a new habit forms and becomes automatic in our brain like brushing our teeth, and driving a car.
Constant repetitive action breaks down old neuro pathways and building new ones so you can become a healthier you. The more you do it, the more easier and natural it will start to feel. Know you have the power and the ability and what we focus on expands. YOU’VE GOT THIS.
Gailliot, M.T.,& Baumeister, R.F.(2009)
The physiology of willpower: Linking blood glucose to self control. Personality and Social Psychology Review,11 (4) 303-327
Gailliot, M.T.,Baumeister, R.F., Deal,C.N., (2009)Self control relies glucose as a limited energy source: Willpower is more than a metaphor. Journal of personality and social Psychology ,92, 325-336
Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource? Journal of personality and Social Psychology,74(5) 1252-1265