Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Boost Your Willpower

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Motivational ChalkboardDating all the way back to the time of Adam and Eve, individuals have struggled with self control. We eat too much, we drink too much, we gamble too much, and we even become addicted to things like drugs, smoking, and work. So what exactly is this thing called self control? When we try to fight an urge, it feels like a strenuous effort and most of the time we give into that urge to satisfy that craving.

In recent years, psychologist Roy Baumeister and New York Times science columnist John Tierney co-authored the book, Willpower together that explores exactly that and shows how it can enhance our lives. The book has some interesting points relating to nutrition.

In Chapter 10 of their book, they highlight three rules to controlling your weight.

  • Never go on a diet (quick fixes are never maintainable)
  • Never vow to give up chocolate or any other food (I would die without chocolate!)
  • Never equate being overweight with having weak willpower (It’s all about portions)

I teach all the clients I work with about eating light and eating often as a lifestyle change and not a diet. Dieting means not to eat when you are hungry and to ignore those feelings of hunger. When you do this, you tend to overeat later which then accumulates to unwanted weight gain. Dieting and following fad diets that promise quick fixes will help you lose weight, but your weight loss will not be maintainable!

The authors even stress that dieting is a constant drain on your willpower and therefore the dieter will frequently be in a depleted state. I couldn’t agree more. Your body’s number one goal is to supply glucose to the brain. If you are in a depleted state and lacking glucose, how are you ever going to be able to focus on what is important in life or be the best you can be? Remember: food is fuel!

The first step in self control is to establish realistic goals. Instead of making general plans to reduce calories, make specific plans to habituate your behavior in certain situations. For example, social gatherings can be a concern for anyone watching their weight with these parties being centered around food.

Have healthy options available.

If the party is at your house, make sure you have plenty of fresh vegetables with reduced calorie dip and some lean meats.  If you’re going to a party where you are bringing a dish, make yours something low calorie so you know there is at least one dish you can eat in larger quantities.

Plan ahead and don’t go to a party on an empty stomach.

Eat something light before your next social gathering to help you focus more on the people around you, rather than the food!

Keep your eye on the prize.

What is your goal and how will your life be different once you reach it?  It helps tremendously in the moment of temptation to think about the positive of why you don’t want to engage in that behavior.

No matter what you’re trying to boost your willpower for--weight loss, regular exercise, or just daily devotionals, stay focused on the end result to get you through the bumps in the road in the journey to your desired outcome.

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Tags: Healthy Eating

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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