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Willpower Needed? Red Flag for Changing Eating Habits.

Updated: Jan 23


Willpower Red Flag

If healthy eating is hard, you might be doing it wrong!

Relying on willpower is not only ineffective, but can also be counterproductive in the long term.


We often say, “I just need more willpower” when trying to change our eating habits. This notion, deeply ingrained in our collective mindset, suggests that the key to resisting that extra slice of cake or to eating more vegetables lies solely in our ability to 'try harder.' However, this oversimplified concept of willpower does more harm than good on our journey towards healthier eating habits.


Feeling like you need more willpower to eat healthy is actually a red flag. It indicates you're suppressing unwanted eating habits instead of addressing the underlying factors that shape them, which is very likely to lead to a relapse.


The belief that we should just push through when it’s hard is far from effective. Instead, when change is hard, it's crucial to identify what makes it difficult and find ways to make it easier.


So, if you feel like you need more willpower to eat healthily, examine these 4 areas. 


1. You might need to work on deepening your motivation.

Constantly battling the need for more willpower could be a sign that your motivation isn't touching upon your values and not aligned with your true desires. Because when it does, the effort to change becomes intrinsically rewarding, feeling less like an externally imposed chore and a test of willpower. It becomes about moving toward what you deeply value and desire, a positive pull rather than a push.


2. You have a sabotaging mindset that creates resistance.

If making healthy choices consistently feels difficult, it may indicate underlying limiting beliefs that frame healthy eating as a chore, hard work, deprivation, unenjoyable, or less satisfying. By holding these beliefs, you set yourself up for a self-fulfilling prophecy where the process becomes a struggle, perceived as something that 'must be done' rather than 'is desired to be done.' Transforming your mindset to create positive associations with healthy eating can turn it into an effortless and enjoyable part of daily life.


3. The approach you use isn’t personalised enough to your preferences and lifestyle.

If it doesn't account for your personal taste preferences, routine, unique nutritional needs, cultural background, social or family eating dynamics, etc. it will feel like a constant fight against your natural inclinations and circumstances. A truly personalised approach will integrate more seamlessly into your life, requiring less willpower as it feels more like a natural fit rather than an imposition.


4. The approach you use doesn’t match your current skill set.

If your chosen approach requires skills you haven't yet developed – such as significant time investment, unfamiliarity with sourcing and preparing ingredients, cooking complex recipes as a beginner cook, or fasting for long periods – can be overwhelming, frustrating and require more willpower. Instead, start with strategies that match your current skills, gradually challenge yourself and build from there, reducing the reliance on willpower.



In conclusion, reflecting on these aspects and considering adjustments can create a more sustainable and enjoyable path toward healthier eating habits. By doing so, you reduce the reliance on willpower and make the process of changing your eating behaviours feel less like an uphill battle and more like a natural progression toward your goals.

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