Why I Don’t Believe in Willpower or Temptation When it Comes to Food.

“UGH! I don’t have any willpower!  The pizza was there so I just ate it!”

“The candy jar at work is just too tempting.  I can’t stay away.”

“It’s hard when you’re at a cookout and have to use willpower to not eat anything bad.”

“The reason I struggle to lose weight is because I have a hard time saying no to temptations.”

Now, I say this in the most loving way possible, because I’ve said these same things before, but, temptation and willpower and the oldest excuses in the book that people use to not act and go for their goal. Let me explain…

When we’re stuck in the dieting mentality, meaning that certain foods are off limits, we put foods in good vs bad categories, we eat because it’s time instead of when we’re hungry, we follow a strict meal plan, we’re counting calories and tracking food, etc., willpower and temptation are REAL.

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve been there.  Watching others “eat whatever they want” when you have just a short list of foods you’re allowed to eat, a certain number of points to stick to, or a certain number of calories you’re allotted each day.  Our thoughts then become “why can they eat whatever they want and I can’t?”

This is when both willpower and temptation show up and rear their ugly heads. The internal convo usually goes something like this:

“No! I can’t eat pizza.  I’m going to get the salad. I have to lose weight…”

“…Well, so and so is having pizza so why can’t I?…”

“…Why not just indulge today and start over tomorrow?…”

“…Ok, this is the last time and I’m eating 100% clean starting tomorrow…”

“Ok, whatever, I’m just going to have a bite…ok two bites…well, might as well finish the whole thing…

Ten minutes later and you’re four slices in with your sad looking salad sitting on the sidelines with a huuuuge side of guilt to wash down the pie with.

This is temptation and willpower in a nutshell- we desire something so strongly even though we think it’s wrong or bad for us but we try like hell to restrain the impulse to just do it. These are real feelings and emotions that come up for us because of the strict rules that we think we have to follow in order to consider ourselves successful on our diet.

Here’s my problem with temptation and willpower: Both temptation and willpower imply that we’re doing something wrong or are thinking about participating in some action that we shouldn’t.  In my mind, there’s no room for this stuff when it comes to how we eat, barring any allergies or medical considerations.

I coach my clients to look at all food as neutral.  There’s no good, there’s no bad, there’s just food that will energize us and satisfy us both physically and mentally.  It’s when we tune out of our body and begin listening to our mind that we fall into trouble – like overeating/bingeing – because our mind will lead us down the path of least resistance at every single opportunity and as I’ve told you before, habit change and weight loss isn’t easy.  We can’t take the path of least resistance and expect results. 

If you have a mindset that all food is neutral and is available to you all the time, the feeling of temptation goes away. You won’t be tempted because you’ll be able to say yes when you want something and when you’re hungry and no when you don’t want something and you’re not hungry.  Same with willpower-  If we have the mindset that we don’t need to restrain or restrict ourselves from eating certain foods (because all food is neutral and is available to us all the time) then willpower goes out the window and we’re just left with making the best choice that we can make for ourselves at that time.

What do you think?  Do you feel tempted by certain foods? Do you feel like you have to use willpower to “do the right thing” when it comes to eating well? Lemme know your thoughts!


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