Your willpower isn’t enough

Does this sound familiar “I know what I’m suppose to do, but just don’t do it. I know that I should exercise and eat more vegetables.”  Do you find yourself getting mad or upset when you don’t have the willpower to say no to dessert that just got placed in the center of the table?

Your willpower is NOT stronger than your environment!

I hear this from my clients all of the time! You’re not alone! I used to think the same thing…”What’s wrong with me! I can’t even control what foods I’m eating!” It was so frustrating. I felt guilty, stupid…you name it, I felt poorly about myself and my inability to stop eating tasty desserts and sweet treats.

Now, many years later, I can look back and see how far I’ve come with my overall health, particularly my eating habits. I still love sweets and junk, but don’t indulge in them nearly as often and I DON’T  FEEL GUILTY when I do have them.

One thing I’ve learned is to not put myself in a situation of temptation!

I’ve got good news! If you are someone who can’t seem to get your eating under control, it might not be that hard to take control after all! Studies show that our environment plays a very big role in what we eat and how much of it. That is good because we can start adjusting our environment! We do have control!!

We are influenced by so many things – the size of a serving bowl, the shape of a glass, the name of a restaurant, where a product is made – all of these and more, influence our decision to eat more or less food, which means more or less calories.

Cartoon we_eat_with_our_eyes

Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating-Why We Eat More Than We Think, has done many studies showing how people will eat and eat more if it’s placed in front of them. Here’s an example of how our environment and ques dictates how much eat: Movie goers who ate dinner 20 minutes prior where given stale popcorn in a medium bag and a large bag. People at 34% more stale popcorn from the larger bag. When the popcorn was fresh, they ate 45% more. Remember, these people just finished dinner! They weren’t hungry and they still ate and ate more if the bag was larger!

Some other interesting finds:

  • Those who drank wine from California ate more food and enjoyed their dining experience more than those who drank wine made in North Dakota (The wine was exactly the same!)
  • Men eat 29% more food if you put the serving dish on the table instead of the counter. Women eat 10% more when the food is on the table.
  • If you eat with an obese person eating unhealthy foods, you will eat more.
  • If your fellow dinners eat quickly, so will you! And you’ll eat more food.

You might be tempted to think that you’re smart enough and know all of these and it won’t effect you. Wansink’s studies prove otherwise. Mindful eating is important, but it’s not enough for 95% of the population. Just because you know what you’re suppose to do and what cues to look for and you still will eat more food and more calories if the situation is right!

There’s Hope!

So, what’s a girl (or guy) to do?

Change your environment.

  • Hang around with healthy people who exercise regularly and eat well.
  • Use smaller plates.
  • Leave your food on the stop-top or counter instead of family style on the table.
  • Eat at home for a majority of meals.
  • Portion out snack foods into little single size servings – never eat from the bag, box, etc.

It’s easier to change your environment than it is to rely on your will power!

This is one reason why the 3-Week Reveal Challenge is so powerful!

Birds of a feather flock together!