A big part of eating healthy means making the right food choices every day. And that can be harder than you think. Most of us can resist grabbing for that sugar laden snack once or twice in a day, but what about that dreaded peckish after dinner zone or even tomorrow or the next day? Do you trust yourself or your kids to resist unhealthy foods indefinitely?
No? Me neither!
And we are not alone.
Why do so many of us start out with great healthy intentions on Monday morning but find ourselves reaching for that half eaten chocolate bar round 3pm — even when we know we should do better?
Because Willpower is NOT enough
One of the reasons that so many of us fail to stick to our healthy eating lifestyles is that we often rely on our willpower alone to steer us away from making unhealthy snack decisions during the day.
If you have a particularly decision-heavy day either at work or spend a rough day with the kids, and then you find yourself stopping for takeaways on the way home (even though you know it’s not good for you …. you may be suffering from something called Decision Fatigue.
Yup. It’s a thing.
Research has shown that our Willpower is like a muscle that we use every day. And just like a muscle, it can get a little weary if we use it too much. And when it’s tired it will default to the ‘Easiest option’.
Like stopping for takeaways instead of deciding what to make for dinner.
Do You Suffer From Eating Decision Fatigue?
Do you find that you make unhealthy eating decisions later in the day or evening time? Instead of cooking a healthy dinner – do you reach for the frozen fast food option? Or call for takeaways. Or simply snack on crappy foods before bed? Or say ‘Yes’ to your child’s 100th request for more biscuits?
Your brain may be saying things to you like:
- “You’ve had a rough day. Have a break from cooking tonight” or…
- “You’ve eaten healthy all day. Treat yourself to a chocolate bar” or ….
- “Life is a bit hard right now. You can start eating healthy again next Monday”.
- “Just give in to the Child’s nagging and they will leave you alone”.
These are all examples of your wonderfully helpful brain trying to lighten the decision making process and just go with what it considers to be the default or easiest decision.
Willpower isn’t some people have or some people lack. We all have it. It just rises and falls during your day. It’s not like we have an internal ‘Will-Power-O-Meter” to guide us, but we all have a good idea of when we feel our willpower getting a little weak. It’s round about the same time we start making unhealthy choices.
Decision fatigue is something we all deal with but when it comes to healthy eating, there are ways we can help overcome it.
2 Ways You Can Overcome Healthy Eating Decision Fatigue
It is possible to make a few changes to your day and your routine so that healthy eating becomes a little easier for you and your family.
1. Plan Daily decisions the night or week before.
Some decisions we know will come around every day so we can plan for them in advance. We know we will need to eat tomorrow, so take some of the strain off your Willpower and decide what you will be having for breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks for the next day. Don’t let these daily decisions drain your willpower and stop you achieving your goals.
Even Better Download my Free Meal Plan and plan for the whole week!
2. Simplify the Little Things
Find ways to simplify small decisions. Instead of staring at the fridge or gazing into the pantry wondering what to eat – put a list together of all the healthy snacks you are happy for your family to eat. You can get my list of 50 Healthy Clean Eating Snacks here. Print it out. Stick to the fridge.
Your brain doesn’t differentiate between the type of decisions you are making. It doesn’t care if you are deciding what to make for dinner or answering your child’s question about What Unicorns Eat (True story).
Try and simplify other areas of your life too – especially when it comes to things that you find yourself doing regularly – for example set up a Weekly or Daily Household Cleaning Schedule, or Kids Chore List or Bill Payments Schedule. All of these things can be simplified to take the strain off your brain.
We can’t avoid making decisions. But with a little planning, we can make sure that we make the process of making healthy eating decisions a little easier.
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