Have you ever noticed how you start the day so well, enjoying your healthy breakfast, declining the offer of a mid-morning muffin with a self-satisfied smile, tucking into your lunch salad with near gusto, only to find everything becomes a temptation as the afternoon and evening progress?
There is a reason. Research shows that willpower is like any other muscle. It starts out strong in the morning and fatigues throughout the day. In fact, resisting temptation actually uses up blood sugar leaving you feeling depleted and less able to say no, as the day goes on. It is estimated that many people spend as much as 2-3 hours per day resisting temptation – now that’s hard work.
Here are 7 ways to prevent blood sugar depletion and recharge your willpower, so you can stay strong from dawn until dusk.
Regulate your blood sugar levels by choosing low GI foods and eating regularly, especially in the mid afternoon when most people report starting down the slippery slope. Skipping meals does not equate to a successful exertion of willpower, it just leaves you vulnerable in the face of temptation later.
Take your own lunch and snacks to work. You have exactly what you need, ready for when you need it. This avoids you standing in an eatery filling your senses with temptation and getting over hungry, whilst you wait.
Rest, relaxation and meditation have also been shown to reboot the self-control system. Put headphones on and listen to music or a guided meditation for 10 minutes. Step outside and sit on a bench, or lie on the grass, to give your mind some time out half way through the day.
A shot of exercise can perk you up and remind you of the importance of a healthy body. It doesn’t have to be a whole workout. A walk around the block or up and down a few flights of stairs can often do the trick.
Read a health, fitness or inspirational article whenever you feel your willpower waning. This allows you to reconnect with your value of health and wellbeing and choose delayed gratification over the quick fix.
Don’t beat yourself up for feeling temptation. Self-compassion is far more likely to help you eat healthily, than self-loathing. Would you berate and shame a friend for having a cookie? If you do succumb to temptation, enjoy it and move on.
By Rachel Livingstone Personal Trainer & Owner of The Health Hub
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