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What’s Your Will Power?

By The Fat Professor, Grant

I recently saw a motivational poster which proclaimed, “will power is like a muscle – the more you use it the stronger it gets”.

So this should apply to eating and well-being, right?  And the data should back this up.

But it doesn’t. In fact, like most things in science and life (especially nutrition!) the opposite is pretty much true. I reckon that will power is a limited resource, and when you use it lots you will lack it afterwards.

The current theory (called ego-deletion) is that indeed will power is like a muscle – if you use it too much it just tires out. Then your ability to have the self-control to resist sugary treats and so forth is weakened and you’ll succumb.

This leads straight to a basic, but overlooked principle of healthy eating. There’s a subtle but powerful difference between:

1. Not eating chocolate biscuits, not in your cupboard, andwill power

2. Not eating chocolate biscuits which are in your cupboard.

One is easy because they aren’t there and requires almost no use of will power – except when you do the shopping. The second requires lots of will power – and if you’ve already used that too much in the day then you’ll be weakened and will succumb.

Sound familiar?

So the idea is to get organised – we’ve called that “diligence not effort”. That means have the healthy food on hand and the junk food right out of the house. A related concept is “full fridge, empty pantry”. Both really mean fresh, real food is in your face, processed high carb/sugar food is not.

So that’s a great principle, but new research shows that beliefs about will power being limited or limitless might affect our will power. They showed that when you believe will power is limitless you actually have more will power! See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20876879

What’s the answer?

I think we have a limited capacity. Sure you might be able to change it a bit by changing your beliefs, but let’s use what we have in pursuit of worthy goals, not just avoiding crappy food.

Get organised, get diligent and less effort is required!

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Avatar Janine says:

    I am ok till I go shopping. Then all I see is 990% of the shop full of yummy rubbish. Sadly we only have a 4 square here so even fresh veg etc is all way past fresh. Very hard to buy this way. Most items like almond flour, mozzarella cheese etc are not available here.

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Janine,

      that’s a good question, how to make LCHF food yummy when the ingredients people in the city take for granted aren’t available. Hopefully if you’re in or near the country fresh meat, eggs, or fish might make up for this, and if you’re in the wrong part of town instead you can sometimes order online from bigger supermarkets across town. I suggest you join our closed facebook group, you might find others there who have had to solve the same problem.
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/WTFForum/?ref=bookmarks

      • Avatar janine says:

        Sadly no fish here, and meat is very overprices. I basically eat only chicken and eggs for protein. Have plans to turn lawn into more veg garden to try and cut costs. As much as I love this way of eating it is very expensive. I am in the facebook group but struggle to follow anything on facebook, Messages get lost so quickly there.

  • Avatar Claire says:

    “It’s not hard, just say no” doesn’t take into account the many complicated aspects of overeating.
    I have been hflc for 15 months and it has controlled so many cravings, I feel great and I train better. But still, I react emotionally to food when stressed or unhappy. Ok, I overeat on real food, but I still overeat.
    I feel like a failure when I hear so many HFLC converts telling me how they no longer overeat and how it’s there magic cure, as I still lose control and binge on occasion.
    Thanks Grant Schofield for the extra context and advice.

  • Avatar Carl Heaton says:

    Thankfully I am way past temptation, I’ve been low carb and now keto for 5 years. I have done my body so much good over this time that I don’t want to eat carbage. Even when my wife does keep crap in the house or if we eat out she will have desert and I don’t have anything. It’s not hard, just say no.

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