You know how there’s a new diet or nutrition news article coming out every day?! It’s overwhelming and confusing for most people – especially those of us trying to be healthy and make better choices.
For many people, diet is a 4-letter word (literally and figuratively!) that makes one shutter and recoil. Here’s the thing, diet is simply the kind of foods a person eats habitually. It’s often shaped by our culture, environment, and upbringing, which may explain why some of us struggle to make healthier choices.
At Well Balanced Nutrition, Kristen and Lucy make it their mission to stay informed and up-to-date about the plethora of information on nutrition and wellness.
It’s important to remember that each human body, while similar in many ways, is also vastly different in our chemical makeup, including how we metabolize foods, how our bodies respond to stress, and so forth. It’s personal and each of us may require different strategies on the journey.
The Diet Spectrum
To bring more clarity to this conversation, we created a visual guide to help individuals figure out where they are on the spectrum.
On the left, we have our “highly structured” eaters. This includes individuals strictly following a diet, such as Whole30, Paleo, gluten-free, etc. This is not including the 2-week crash diets, but more long-term.
Next, on the far right we have the our “loosey goosey” eaters. On this end, there is almost no structure, boundaries or plan around what someone is eating each day.
In the middle, you find balance. This does not mean someone on a gluten-free diet for medical purposes needs to start eating wheat bread to be balanced. It’s simply a tool to check in and determine where you are on the spectrum.
Where are you on the Diet Spectrum?
Do you find yourself planning what you are going to eat each day before you get hungry? Or are you waiting to decide what you want in the moment day-by-day or meal-by-meal?
To become highly structured may be useful for setting new habits. Sometimes pressing the reset button with a highly structured diet plan can change how we think about or relate to food.
The question is, what do you need to change to create more balance in your diet? For some it may include more boundaries. Yet for others it may include a permission slip to eat off the plan every so often.
Eating balanced feels different for each of us. Letting go of the shame means embracing our slip ups and planning to do better next time.
Food for thought
As you go throughout your day or week, ask yourself is this choice Well Balanced? We find it most helpful to plan ahead! That way the decision is made before we get bombarded with too many choices.
Do you want to find more balance in your diet and lifestyle?Let’s chat!
It’s rare that I meet someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth. Some of us struggle more than others with sweet cravings. How do we choose to indulge our sweet tooth (or not to) in a healthy way? Here are 4 mindfulness strategies:
Often times we crave sweets because of some underlying thought or emotion that drives a desire for something comforting. When the craving hits we must take a mindful pause to become aware of our emotions, senses, and actions. We may be frustrated, stressed, tired or bored and looking for an escape from those uncomfortable feelings. Unfortunately, we all know those feelings won’t go away by eating chocolate (although, that would be awesome!). Yet our brain seems to think it will work every time. A little mindfulness and a full toolbox of ways to soothe yourself without food can go a long way when it comes to managing that sweet tooth.
Sort Through the Craving
Ask yourself do I really want this or is my primitive brain just craving it because it’s there, free, tempting, etc? If we always follow that primitive drive to indulge, we could end up far from our goals. Having a way to sort through a craving can help. I like to ask myself, is this special? Does this help me meet my needs? Is it going to make me feel good or lousy? Is the experience going to be worth it? For instance, the candy from a jar at work… although delicious, probably not very special. I might devour it as I walk to the water jug without actually experiencing it. But a melt-in-your-mouth s’more when you are on a family camping trip or a decadent homemade pie you only get once a year around the holidays that you sit down to savor with people who mean the world to you… those are the kind of treats that I call worth it. Simply putting a little thought into your decision can help you decide to pass or go on a sweet treat.
Give Yourself Permission
When food is off-limits, it gains power. It’s always your choice to honor a craving or ride it out and let it pass. When you take a mindful pause and sort through it, you can then consciously ask yourself if you still want that food. Give yourself permission to say yes without any judgemental thoughts (like I’m being bad or I’m cheating). Once you do, ironically, it will be a lot easier to say no if you want to.
Love What You Eat
Cravings can come on for various reasons, but being too restrictive or eating bland food can definitely trigger more cravings. If you aren’t enjoying your food maybe it’s time to look at how to put more joy and flavor onto your plate. This is different for everyone. Perhaps this means adding a bit of honey and cocoa powder into your morning smoothie, making a flavorful sauce to go on top of your meat and roasted veggies or ending your meal with fruit or dare I say, chocolate sometimes!
How can you combat cravings before the start?
Eating Well Balanced Meals can help you stop cravings before they start. If you are not getting the right combination of fat, protein, or carbohydrates at each meal, this could lead to cravings. Schedule an appointment today if you’d like help in this area.
Food for thought:
What food(s) are truly special to you?
What foods do you crave when you are stressed, tired, lonely or sad?
Why me? It’s not fair. How did this happen? For 1 in 5 American’s suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), these are common thoughts and questions that cross the mind. Maybe after a weekend of eating out and enjoying food with friends and family suddenly, cramping, bloating, and discomfort takes over the gut and all you can do is curl up and wait until it passes.
Most of my life I was blessed to eat anything I wanted – I joke that I grew up on Ramen noodles, Pop-tarts, and a lot of chicken casseroles (including broccoli and cauliflower!).
Then came 2012
For 7 years prior to 2012, I was practicing a flexitarian diet, which for me included eating mostly plant-based foods such beans, tofu, peanut butter, and I even started eating lentils. Unfortunately, in November 2012 I contracted a stomach virus. It included a lot of pain and bloating for about five weeks and I lost weight, which at my size was not healthy. When that was over I tried to resume my normal diet. This consisted of salads, plenty of broccoli, apples, and other delicious colorful foods. The problem was some of those same symptoms I had during the virus stated to crop up unexpectedly in the middle of the day or after dinner. More pain. More bloating. But no more virus. I spoke with a good friend (also a dietitian) who recommended I look at eliminating the FODMAP foods – stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. For anyone unfamiliar these are foods that have a particular kind of naturally occurring sugar, which are linked to some cases of IBS. She was right! When I stopped eating apples I stopped feeling awful after lunch, at least for a little while. Then by May 2016 while traveling up to Michigan to see my honey I hit a wall (not literally!), but I got fed up with feeling awful. I decided it was time to find out once and for all what was causing my gut issues. I went on an anti-inflammatory elimination diet. These come in all shapes and sizes – I gave up many common culprits including grains, dairy, fermented foods, and legumes. Gasp! At this point you might be thinking “what did you eat?!” For anyone that has done a Whole30 you know that fruits, vegetables, and meat/seafood become the bulk of what you are consuming. During that time, I discovered almond butter isn’t so bad and coconut flour is very versatile and delicious. Otherwise, I started to recognize and address my emotional relationship with food. Turns out, a lot of IBS symptoms are heavily influenced by the gut-brain connection and can be affected heavily by stress and hormones.
So many pity parties
During the first elimination I only committed to 21 days because I knew it was going to be challenging. I learned a lot about my habits, but I did it didn’t give me any conclusive information about what was causing my symptoms. Luckily, my lovely brilliant business partner, Kristen Norton, introduced me to MRT or mediator release testing option, which I did in February 2017. This blood test shows the inflammatory response your body has to 170 foods/chemicals. The test revealed some surprising information, which lead to a significant change in my diet and lifestyle for the next 18 months (and counting). In the beginning, when I first got my results I cut down to eating from a list of 30 approved non-inflammatory foods. Considering on average we consume 700 to 1000 foods and chemicals each week this was a very creative time for me. Who knew all the different ways you could prepare rice, sweet potatoes, tilapia, and carrots? After the MRT results I was informed that alcohol is a huge trigger for IBS symptoms or flare-ups and was advised to stop drinking at least for the first month. Oh, the pity parties. I quickly learned that Friday was a huge trigger for having an alcoholic beverage. I kid you not, it wasn’t until October 13, 2017 that I was finally journaled my first Friday in 8 months that I didn’t crave an adult beverage on Friday night. I promise I don’t have a drinking problem, it was a groove in my brain (aka habit) formed starting in college and apparently became a way of life for the following decade. Not to mention, some of my other favorites I needed to stop eating like lettuce, soy-products, and Duke’s mayonnaise (darn paprika and lemon juice). I cried a lot those first several weeks. Yet, I was finally able to truly empathize with my clients who are doing even harder things in the name of their health and well-being.
What’s the lesson?
While this is still a hard subject for me to talk about, I feel so much better now than I did when I was eating in a way that wasn’t serving my body. Our mission at Well Balanced Nutrition is teach, empower, and connect women that want to feel confident in their food choices and bodies. My body was telling me that my old flexitarian diet was no longer serving me. Our bodies are talking to us all the time. The trick is learning to tune in, listen with compassion, and sometimes swim against the stream to make changes necessary feel our best.
Food for thought What is your body telling you? The first step is tuning in. Next, I encourage everyone to spend time thinking about what better feels like. How will your life change when you feel better? Lastly, you don’t have to do this alone. We can help.
The other morning I was reading a great book by Kate Northrup titled Money: A Love Story. This is not your typical financial planning book. Instead, it’s an opportunity to take a mindful journey to understand and develop a healthier relationship with money. Northrup goes on to explain there are a lot of feelings and emotions around money and anybody that says otherwise is not being truthful with themselves.
Kristen and I would venture to say the same thing about food. When somebody is having issues making a change their diet, I have to tell them it’s rarely about the food. For instance, if you find yourself craving comfort foods, we may suggest that you are in need of more connection and/or love (or a good nights sleep!). We tend to seek comfort in the form of food if we feel isolated, disappointment, sad, overwhelmed, etc. Other healthier coping tools would include volunteering, calling a friend, playing with your furry or not-so-furry child or taking a walk.
As I continued reading and journaling, as prompted by Northrup, I suddenly had the urge to check my bank account. That is when I realized all the money for rent was still sitting in the bank account, which means I was at least two days late paying our rent. *palm to the face* Luckily, I was in full fledge observation mode and just started journaling my thoughts in that very moment. Do you know what I’ve discovered? I am a jerk face to myself! I was instantly telling myself that I’m an idiot and I should know better. So it was demoralizing and unproductive.
As a person who fancies herself as self-aware, it was incredibly surprising to have this bombardment of negative self talk flood my mind. Soon there were tears and I felt even more ridiculous for crying over $50. Seriously.
Fast forward to a few hours later and I’m walking through the woods.… Catching cobwebs. It got me thinking that these negative thought patterns are kind of like cobwebs in our minds. We’ve built them in without even realizing that they are making this journey to happy and healthy a lot less pleasant.
The first step
Today I’m encouraging each of you to just notice when you have a negative thought run through your mind. Anything such as, “you idiot!” Or “you should have…” Or “you know better. Why do you keep making the same mistake?!”
We now know that this is self shaming and as Brene Brown reminds us shame corrodes the part of the brain that believes that we can change. In short, shame does not help you do better. In fact, it will probably perpetuate the same negative behaviors. When we notice the negative thought patterns we can start to change them. I often teach friends and clients to try Cancel. Cancel. Cancel. when they first notice the negativity. Then create a helpful mantra or affirmation to replace the thoughts. Sometimes it can be as simple as repeating “release.” Or as Northrup mentions in her book, “I am pure, calm grace.” Important note: the affirmation needs to resonate with you. That means when you find an uplifting quote or phrase make sure it is speaking your truth. Do you believe and embody it?
Food for thought:
It always seems easier to help others recognize these negative thought patterns. Do you have a friend or loved one that you trust that could help you see where you might be allowing these negative thought patterns and cobwebs of the mind to hold you back?
Kristen and I are happy to help you clear the way and make a more enjoyable journey into your happy and healthy – let us know how we can help?
Should I follow the “keto” diet?
Lucy and I have been asked this question a lot lately. The answer is (drumroll please)… it depends. Read on to find out the facts, determine if it’s right for you and see what we recommend.
Ketogenic Diet Explained
Let’s start by answering the question, WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET? It’s a diet consisting of a meager amount of energy from carbohydrates (5-10% or no more than 50 grams per day), a moderate amount of energy from protein and a high amount from fat. The goal is to let your body “burn off” all its carbohydrate stores and switch its fuel source to fat (which our bodies turn into ketones).
A healthy ketogenic diet will include many nutrient-dense vegetables like green-leafy vegetables, bell peppers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans and Brussel sprouts. Protein needs are met with quality meat and seafood, nuts. cheese, and eggs. Lastly, “good fats” are added to meals or used in cooking such as coconut oil, butter, cream, and olive or avocado oil.
A day of following the ketogenic plan would look like this.
Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs made with heavy cream and cooked leafy-greens. Coffee with butter or coconut oil.
Lunch: Tuna salad (tuna + full-fat mayo + chopped celery) over a bed of romaine lettuce + green bell pepper slices + cherry tomatoes + one-half an avocado.
Why is the ketogenic diet such a hot topic right now?
It has been known for quite some time to be an effective treatment for epilepsy. More recent studies are producing positive outcomes in neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Other studies have looked at its potential effect on cancer with great preliminary findings that the diet could help achieve remission. Lastly, in a 12-month trial, adults with elevated HbA1c (associated with diabetes) and body weight assigned to a keto diet had greater reductions in HbA1c, lost more weight, and reduced more medications than those instructed to follow a low-fat, moderate-carbohydrate diet. All fascinating findings, but we still need to learn more.
How does the keto diet cause rapid weight loss?
First of all, the diet eliminates several food groups from your diet drastically cutting back your calorie intake. Secondly, as you limit your intake of carbohydrates, your body produces less insulin and begins to utilize all the sugars that are stored away in your muscles and liver for energy. The breakdown of the stored energy causes the kidneys to flush out water (and along with it, electrolytes your body needs like magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium). This loss of water is part of the reason people see dramatic scale drops in the first few weeks of eating a ketogenic diet. It’s also why weight can be regained quickly.
So, is the keto diet right for you if you just want to lose weight and feel awesome?
Let’s look at the reality of it. It’s definitely not a magic bullet because there are downsides to this extreme approach. It’s a significant lifestyle shift. Yes, you might lose weight quickly (in the beginning much of it is water weight), but if you can’t stick with it, chances are it could do more harm than good. While you may read several success stories on the internet, what you don’t see are the cases in which more weight is regained than was initially lost once they came off the diet. Just because it works for some, doesn’t mean that it’s the best diet for you.
The best diet for you is one you can stick to for life.
It may seem obvious, but even the research indicates that the ketogenic diet is hard to follow for an extended amount of time. Some of the research studies had drop-out rates as high as 50-84%. If you are a long-time reader, you know we promote taking small, manageable steps rather than leaping into a brand new lifestyle.
It might affect your social well-being.
Social connections are vital to your health. If following the ketogenic diet will isolate you from your loved ones or your friends, you are putting your health and happiness on the line. Will you be able to share meals with loved ones? Can you still enjoy life’s unique and sporadic moments? This is a serious question to ask yourself before you consider starting the ketogenic diet.
The bottom line:
We recommend taking a look at your current diet and finding some small baby steps you can take and build upon those, rather than changing everything drastically all at once. For instance, cut out sugary drinks and fast food or increase fiber intake with more vegetables at your meals. If you decide the ketogenic diet is one you can follow for years to come, be sure to work with a registered dietitian in order to help you meet your nutrition needs and focus on high-quality, nutrient-dense food choices.
As a registered dietitian, and owner of Well Balanced Nutrition, I am always on a mission to find more health and wellness resources for myself and my clients. The original intent of this article was to highlight the different wellness businesses and programs in South Durham; instead, I discovered not just businesses but passionate individuals on a mission to help others live an active, happy, and healthy life.
It is exciting to see and experience how many different avenues the SoDu community can take to create a well-balanced lifestyle right here in our own backyards. Below you will find ten options for taking the next step on your wellness journey. We know there are so many more! Tell us what other SoDu offerings have helped you reach your health goals!
These are just 10 of what I’m sure are countless ways to create a healthy lifestyle in South Durham. As we gear up for the Summer season, I’m curious what tool or program will be most helpful for you?
Also, we would love to know what additional SoDu offerings have made a difference in your life? Tell us in the comments below!
About the authors:
Lucy Hayhurst and Kristen Norton are Licensed and Registered Dietitians/Nutritionists and the owners of Well Balanced Nutrition. It’s their mission to improve lives by teaching, empowering and connecting people one wellness adventure at a time.
Kara showed up in my office feeling frustrated and confused, she exclaims “just when I think I’m doing well and finally losing weight, I step on the scale and see the same number for the third month in a row!“ Kara previously lost weight by eliminating most carbohydrates – motivated to look fabulous in her wedding dress – dropped 30+ lbs only to regain the weight and more. This time, Kara is taking a different approach by eating well-balanced and including 5 workouts each week. She discovered a unique gym near home that provides guided exercise with the statistical feedback through her Fitbit and heart rate monitor, which helped increase her motivation and engagement. However, she has found the process is much slower this time around.
Kara’s story is not uncommon and may sound familiar to some of you. During our conversation, Kara explains she hasn’t been to the doctor for years and worries her weight may have a negative impact on her health. She asked frankly, “can you be healthy and still carry extra weight at the same time?” The short answer, YES.
When you go to the doctor, the nurse checks your weight, height, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, etc. Often, the doctor orders lab test to get additional information about your overall health and well-being. If you were to go to the doctor and they simply checked your weight, then the doctor comes in and prescribes diabetes medications, I imagine you would be suspicious and skeptical about this diagnosis. Our body mass index – BMI – is simply one clinical indicator of health. This number does not take into account your muscle mass, bone density, or genetic background, all of which have significant impact on your health.
At Well Balanced Nutrition, we believe in health at every size. This is not a free pass to go eat a dozen donuts and sit on the sofa all weekend! Health is sum of your lifestyle, diet, and behavior choices. Checking your weight regularly, whether that means every day, once a week, or once a month is one way to track your progress. However, there are many other means of tracking.
How do you know you’re on track?
How do your clothes fit? Have you found yourself exclusively reaching for the yoga pants, elastic waist, and loose-fitting clothes? That might be a sign that it’s time to pay closer attention to what you are eating and/or drinking. Prior to starting a workout program, you can also take measurements around your arms, waist, hips, and thighs. That way, in case you gain muscle and do not lose weight, you will likely still lose inches.
What are you eating? I know firsthand, how someone has eaten for the last 3 days is how they have “always eaten.“ We humans have terrible memories for the details of what we consumed lately unless there is some means of tracking. That might be an app, paper food journal, or picture journal.
How is your mood? Personally, when I don’t eat well, get insufficient sleep, or less physical activity I feel awful. I’m a little extra irritable, moody, and generally less fun to be around – just ask my boyfriend! Pay attention to your mood and ask yourself “WHY am I feeling the way I feel?” Has something in your routine changed?
How are you sleeping? Sleep is directly impacted by our day-to-day choices. Some people notice they sleep poorly if they eat simple carbohydrates, especially refined sugar, after 7 PM. Others report sleeping poorly if they have too much alcohol to drink or not enough water.
What is your energy level? It could be low due to an extra stressful week, catching up from vacation, or having a sick child at home. Our energy level is all highly impacted by what we eat and how we spend our free time.
Food for thought:
If health is not determined by our weight, why do we keep letting that darn number on the scale tell us about our self-worth and well being? You are more than a number! What other means of tracking helps you know you are Well Balanced?
Before going out to for Italian food with friends, Lisa thought she would order the baked chicken parmesan with a salad. Once at the restaurant, hungry and exhausted from an overwhelming workweek, she ordered the ooey gooey cheesy lasagna and ate it all. Then, Lisa woke up the next morning two pounds heavier and feeling shame and guilt wash over her. If you found yourself relying on willpower to make your healthy food choices you may have had a similar experience. This often comes from a diet mentality. It’s the thought pattern ‘as long as I can be good I will be able to [fill in the blank],’ that leads us to drain the willpower tank because we overthink every decision and default into old habits.
At the beginning of each day, most of us wake up feeling confident and determined “today’s the day, I’m going to be healthy!” As we go throughout the day making thousands of decisions and using our mental and physical energy, our tank may get depleted. That is when you find yourself craving something crunchy, salty or sweet around 3 PM (or if you’re like me it’s at 9 PM). Either way, we know willpower is not the solution to living a healthy Well-Balanced life.
3 steps to keep your willpower tank full
Notice when you’re relying on willpower. Recognize that little voice in your head saying; no, I won’t eat the free bagels in the break room today. Yep, that is good old willpower going to work for you. There is some evidence that states, I won’t statements deplete our willpower more rapidly. First, notice when you are denying yourself something that your brain is craving. Kristen describes it as riding the crave wave. It is okay because most cravings pass.
Replace ‘I won’t’ with ‘I want.’ Once you’ve noticed the I won’t, you can start to change your thoughts to include ‘I want [something better that will help me reach my goals].’ For instance, if your brain saying I won’t eat the leftover cake that someone brought to work, instead, I want my delicious egg muffins and fruit smoothie, because it gives me the energy I need to do my job. Or simply I want to eat Well-Balanced and I know those donuts will just lead me to a sugar crash and make me feel awful later.
Create a new normal – aka automation. Research claims up to 95% of all we do is subconscious. Think about the last time you took a shower. Did you stop and think ‘Now I pour the soap. Now I wash my hair. Now I shave my legs…’ Unlikely! It just happens, right? Same goes for food. Our brains are designed to keep us alive, not help us reach our ultimate health and well-being. When the brain senses energy-dense foods, like cheese and French fries, it sends signals to keep eating in case you experience scarcity or famine. Setting up healthier habits, such as packing a sandwich with baby carrots and an orange for lunch instead of relying on whatever you can find near the office will eliminate the task of making another decision.
Food for thought:
Is a diet mentality holding you back? It is common – even socially acceptable and encouraged – to reward ourselves with a special treat. This behavior pattern may have started in childhood when our well-meaning teachers or caretakers would supply candy or snack foods for good behavior. On the road to Well Balanced, there is an important step in recognizing what habits are holding us back. We invite you to take the Diet Mentality Assessment to pinpoint where your downfalls might be sabotaging your health, weight, and wellness goals.
I never played sports; therefore, the coaching concept is new to me. At Grace Church, pastor Kendrick recently taught us about people who struggle without improvement versus people who grow and develop in the midst of their struggles. He put it bluntly, when we are in performance mentality and seeking the approval or acceptance of others, we become prideful. A performance mentality is sometimes rooted in insecurity because the ego doesn’t like to be wrong or embarrassed. When Michael Jordan got cut from the high school varsity basketball team as a sophomore he was devastated; however, instead of throwing in the towel on his dreams he hit the courts and practiced, practiced, and practiced some more.
Some of our clients assume Kristen and I will give them a meal plan, a few recipes, and maybe a cheer to keep them on track. Instead, they get a coach – someone to listen, give feedback, and provide a toolbox of skills to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.
In order to grow and get better, here are five steps to becoming more coachable and achieve your ultimate health and well-being.
5 steps to achieve your goals
It always starts with a vision. Sports enthusiast and professionals spend time envisioning themselves succeeding. For instance, when a golfer steps up to the tee, she will envision the ball going in the direction and landing exactly where she wants it to be. If she steps up to the ball and starts thinking about something else or looking into the sandpit, that’s where the ball goes. What is the vision of your healthiest self look like? What are your habits? How do you feel?
Next, comes skills development. If you’ve never hit a golf ball, it’s unlikely that it will go very far or exactly in the direction you were hoping the first time you play. Instead, you start by learning which golf club to use, the appropriate grip, the right stance, and the swing. Same idea if you’re unfamiliar with how to cook and assemble Well Balanced meals. First, we need to start with what is well-balanced? Then how plan meals to meet your nutritional needs.
Put it into action! Now we apply our new skills. On the golf course that may mean going to hit a bucket of balls at the range. For someone looking to become healthier, it could be planning a week of Well Balanced dinners for the family.
Grow. It’s OK to fall down, it’s OK to not succeed. Each time we “fail,” is a chance to learn how not to do it next time. So what if you swung the golf club and missed the ball by inches? Sounds like the time to laugh it off and try again. And if you had cereal for dinner last night (again), perhaps it’s a good chance to stock up on a few of our favorite Quick Fix Meal ideas.
Lastly, we need to be humble! That means if you keep trying and it’s not working it’s time to ask for help. It could be time to hire an instructor and get on the greens for guided practice or several. And if you’ve tried diet after diet with the same results we invite you to apply for a Breakthrough the Diet Mentality call.
Food for thought
Most of us have two voices that sometimes go to battle in our heads… “I got this!” and “why bother?“ That second voice is just our ego trying to protect itself. Instead, listen to the helping and encouraging thoughts – create a vision, practice the healthy habits, and get back on if you fall off the wagon. And if you need some help in the kitchen, you know where to find us: contact Lucy & Kristen.
Have you ever thought to yourself ‘If only I had more willpower, then I could be healthy and lose weight?’ You are not alone. As nutritionists, we talk to many people who assume they are weak and lacking in willpower. That’s why they haven’t been able to stop going to Chick-fil-A after work or eat just one handful of mixed nuts instead of half the container. To boost willpower, we need to start with the understanding that willpower is an unreliable resource affected by the number of decisions we’ve made, temptations we face, and even the mood we are in.
Why willpower runs out:
Willpower can easily be overused and depleted if we aren’t careful. Think of willpower as a gas tank in a car. Maintaining steady blood-sugar levels by eating well-balanced meals and snacks regularly (aka keeping it full of quality fuel), keeps our willpower levels high. Also setting up healthier environments and habits can help us rely less on willpower and more on cruise control. Without steady fuel and good habits in place, we can quickly burn through our “tank of willpower” before noon.
For instance, if someone arrives to work without eating breakfast and finds themselves at a meeting with free biscuits, they are more likely to grab the free food. On the flip side, another coworker who routinely eats a Well-Balanced breakfast consisting of an egg sandwich and an apple is less likely to feel tempted by the same biscuits.
How to boost your willpower:
Keep your willpower tank full by saving your willpower for emergencies, rather than everyday moments. The 3 steps to keeping your tank full are:
Setting up cruise control: creating healthy attainable habits and not relying on willpower alone to achieve your goals.
Selecting high-quality fuel: including a positive self-image and attitude, as well as, incorporating proper nutrition at regular meals.
Avoiding rough roads: avoiding temptation when possible and putting strategies in place that help you manage the situation when temptation might arise.
Food for thought:
Sometimes willpower is the tool you need in the moment. More often, we need to find other ways to make healthy choices. Are you relying too much on willpower? Take this quiz to find out where you stand with willpower and get additional strategies for making the healthier choice more often.
For additional support and personalized wellness plans, please contact us 🙂