Let’s talk about Willpower - a widely misunderstood topic.
It’s such a large concept surrounding diet and fitness. People believe they either have it or they don’t. And if they don’t have it, then their lack of willpower is often their reason for not sticking with their plan for healthy eating and exercise.
As a holistic nutritionist, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people tell me they don’t have enough willpower to say no to that mid-afternoon muffin, the treats being passed around at the office or the bowl of chips while watching TV in the evening with the family.
I totally get it. I used to have a really hard time with those things as well and I blamed it on my lack of willpower, because that was what I ‘thought’ was the issue.
Nowadays, I know that if I’m craving something I can take a look at what I ate for breakfast and lunch and often I’ll see that I’ve been eating in a way that set me up for a blood sugar imbalance, and I will then eat something healthy to get me back to where I should be (and yes, there are times that I choose to have something sweet or not-as-healthy, but it’s not because I’m ‘craving it.’ It’s simply because I feel like having it. And yes, there is a difference.)
There is a strong link between your blood sugar and your willpower.
I never used to make the connection and a lot of other people don’t often make the connection either, until I explain it to them. It’s common to think that willpower is something that we’re either born with or not.
There’s so much more to it than that. If you’ve listened to any of my videos or read any of my posts, you’ll know that I talk about blood sugar a lot, and I’ve shared a lot of information about it.
The reason for this is because unstable blood sugar is lurking behind a lot of our health issues, including our ability to make better choices for our health and for weight loss.
Research has now proven that willpower is related to our blood sugar levels and stresses the importance of keeping blood sugar levels stable in order to boost our willpower.
Despite what you have been told, cravings for carbs like sweets, bread and pasta are NOT normal and they could be a symptom of blood sugar imbalances. When you crave carbs it means that your blood sugar levels have dropped.
The truth is, if you team willpower up against blood sugar issues, the willpower loses every time because your will is no match for your hormones and physiology. The only way to stop a craving is to prevent it from happening, something that is easier to do than you might think.
I've got a few helpful tips for you that have really helped me:
Tip #1 - Micronutrients
Sometimes we crave certain foods because we’re lacking micronutrients.
The easiest and most effective way that I’ve found to ensure I’m getting the micronutrients, phytonutrients and antioxidants my body needs (without actually sitting down and eating or juicing 30 different fruits and vegetables every day!) is by taking Juice Plus+ capsules.
These whole-food capsules help me to bridge the gap between what I do eat and what I should be eating every day (and as part of the Children’s Health Study, kids eat free!) If you would like an easy way to get whole-food nutrition in a capsule, so you can bridge the gap in your diet as well, message me HERE.
Tip #2 Blood Sugar Balance
As I mentioned earlier, eating in a way that keeps your blood sugar balanced is of upmost importance when trying to up your willpower. Eating this way has worked so well for me for many years, and I know it can help you too.
If you want to give your willpower a helping hand and get a jump-start on balancing your blood sugar, sign up for my free 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE.
In the challenge, are easy and practical steps that will help balance your blood sugar, which will boost your willpower and give you back the power over your food and exercise choices, helping you to lose weight and feel better about yourself.
Ready to get started? Just click on the link HERE.
Until next time,
Let me start by saying to everyone of you who feel controlled by food cravings of one type or another - I get it.
I used to feel like my food cravings controlled me, and although I liked sweets, it wasn’t always sugary foods that I craved. It was things like muffins, bagels and pizza. I didn’t realize at the time that those foods actually turn into sugar in the body, so even though they didn’t always necessarily have sugar on the label, they were having the same effect on my body because they were turning into sugar.
My Typical Day
I would usually start my day with what I felt was a pretty healthy cereal (because it said so right on the box - that would definitely mean it was healthy, right?) or maybe some whole wheat toast or a bagel with honey or jam. I would feel pretty good for a bit but then by mid-morning, I was starving and would need a mid morning pick me up a short while later (maybe a muffin from the coffee shop.)
I would then have a sandwich (whole wheat bread with a cheese slice was a favourite for years) or a simple salad for lunch with a lite dressing.
By mid-afternoon, I would crash. Like, wanting to crawl under my desk for a nap type of crash. I had trouble concentrating, felt tired and even moody and needed something to eat to help me feel better. If anyone was passing treats around the office, you bet I would grab one (or two!) and would temporarily feel better again.
This would continue day after day and by the time I picked my son up from daycare it took everything in me to make dinner and clean up so we could spend time together before he went to bed. Usually, by the time I tucked him in to bed I was so tired that I fell asleep with him.
Can anyone else relate to this?
I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong because I thought I was eating healthy enough. I was buying foods that said “light,” “low fat,” “low calorie” or “healthy” on the package because that’s what I had grown up believing. I really was trying to make healthy choices.
Little did I realize, the way I was eating was creating the perfect storm for a blood sugar imbalance.
I was cutting out the very foods that would keep me fuller, longer and instead, focusing on foods that would spike my blood sugar and then crash again shortly afterwards.
The foods that I started my day with at breakfast were setting me up for a blood sugar imbalance all day long - and lunch was no better. No wonder I was exhausted and had out of control cravings by evening!
Since becoming a nutritionist, I’ve learned that almost always, cravings for carbs indicate a blood sugar imbalance. I hadn’t realized that when I was buying foods that were marketed as “diet foods” or “healthy foods” I was missing out on some much-needed nutrients and my body was letting me know by signalling cravings.
Many times when we experience that afternoon energy crash, it’s because of what we ate at breakfast and lunch. When simple carbohydrates are eaten on their own it can quickly satisfy your hunger and give you an energy boost, but both are only temporary, and it leaves you craving more simple carbs when energy drops a few hours later.
And then you’re on a blood-sugar rollercoaster, and the cycle continues over and over. This cycle will ultimately lead to weight gain, as well as a lot of other health issues, because many diseases actually begin with blood sugar issues.
Willpower vs. Blood Sugar
And, if you team willpower up against blood sugar issues, the willpower will lose every time. As I learned firsthand, and is true for you as well, your lack of willpower is not your fault.
Once you eat in a way that balances your blood sugar, you stay fuller, longer and the cravings subside. Your mood is better balanced and you have energy that lasts throughout the day (with energy to spare for a family walk in the evening.)
When I finally started having energy to go for a walk in the evening again, it’s like life started opening back up for me. When I purposefully started eating in a way that would balance my blood sugar, it made all the difference. And, it wasn’t even that hard to do - I just needed to know where the problem lay, so I could do something about it.
The solution is to balance your blood sugar, which as I’ve learned for myself, will go a long way towards getting rid of those cravings and increasing your willpower.
5 Tips To Balance Your Blood Sugar And Overcome Cravings
Let's Do This Together!
Want to tackle your cravings together? Join me for a FREE 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE! We’re going to run through it together in my private Facebook group “Nutrition And Lifestyle Strategies For Women” starting November 12th (it’s always more fun when we do it together and accountability and support never hurt, right?)
Simply sign up HERE ahead of time, so you’ll have everything you need when we get started on Nov 12th!
Until next time,
May Anne Jordens-LaFlamme is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the owner of "Wellness with May Anne." She is passionate about helping women look and feel their best, so they can live a more fulfilling life - without dieting, deprivation, relying on willpower or cooking separate meals for the family.