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Recent research is confirming that self-control and willpower come at a cost.
We already know that willpower is a limited resource. Once you’ve exerted it for long enough, it eventually gives out.
The newest research shows that using self-control also impacts your memory. Self-control and memory share the same brain mechanisms. Using willpower saps these common resources and hampers our ability to make memories.
Wouldn’t you think that the reverse is true as well? It hasn’t been explicitly tested yet, but it makes sense that if your memory is being heavily taxed, this would also impact your ability to exert self-control. After all, they share the same brain mechanisms.
Diets – willpower = failure
Is it any wonder that most diets end in failure? Self-control can be sabotaged by something as simple as studying for an exam, using skills you learned a long time ago, or just running into a group of old friends. As soon as your self-control is on the ropes, so is your diet.
The good news to take away from this is that you’re off the hook! It’s not your fault that willpowering your way to healthy eating hasn’t worked so far.
The bad news is that you’re not off the hook. You still need to find a way to eat healthy.
This is why nutrition professionals call for a return to intuitive eating. When you pay attention to what your body needs, and how it responds to food, you stop needing willpower to decide what to eat. Or how much to eat.
So next time you find yourself trying to force yourself to put down the bag of chips, stop. Pay attention instead to how your stomach feels. Is it telling you that you’re full? Why not listen!?!?
This is not something that necessarily works overnight. It takes practice! You might not be in touch with your body at all, and just like any good relationship, it takes time to develop. But the more you do it, the more you’ll find yourself putting your snacks back in the cupboard, voluntarily, and happily!
It’s so much more enjoyable than engaging in a full out battle with your willpower.
Have you had your own struggles with willpower working for a while, only to have it fail you? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.
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