3 Ways to Boost Your Willpower to Avoid Holiday Overeating

With Thanksgiving and eventually Christmas now just around the corner, it’s that time of year again when temptation is literally all around us. There’s nothing more frustrating or difficult than painfully trying to resist those baked goods in the staff lounge, the trays of catered food at work parties or mom’s home-cooked meals at family gatherings.

For a lot of people, willpower tends to go right out the window during the holidays. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and you won’t have to guiltily try to undo it all come January.

First, it’s important to understand that willpower, or self-control, works just like a muscle does. You can strengthen it by training it correctly, but you can also overwork it so much that it starts to deteriorate.

Just like you can build up your muscle strength by lifting weights, you can build up your willpower by switching between periods of training and rest. If you expect your willpower to be high and constant all the time, you’ll be setting yourself up for making some big mistakes.

Here are three of the most effective and healthy ways to level up your willpower to avoid overeating this holiday season or any time of year.

1. Focus on keeping your hunger, cravings and energy at optimal levels.

If you’re hungry because you went too long without eating, or you’re craving specific foods, or you’re dead tired from a busy and stressful day, then your willpower is going to be weakened. You have to fix these problems first if you want to have great willpower.

This could mean eating a healthy meal before a Christmas party so that you feel satisfied enough to naturally avoid overeating when you get there. Or it could mean getting an extra hour of sleep every night. It could even mean adding a wider variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats or lean sources of protein to your diet to fight off certain cravings your body may be throwing at you.

Whatever it is for your unique situation, it’s important to get to the root of your willpower problem first rather than just pushing through it, suffering and then failing.

2. Seek out healthy distractions.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is a popular proverb many dieters use to help them avoid temptation, and there certainly is a lot of truth to it. The hardest thing about following it, however, is when you don’t have control over being in the same room with all that temptation around you and everyone offering you something to eat or drink.

So, when you’re at a party or in the staff room at work surrounded by treats, you have to get creative. You can distract yourself by going to talk to someone you know, offer to help out with the dishes or even sip on water to give your mouth something to do. It’s not exactly easy to force your mind to think about something else, but if you took the advice from the first point about hunger, cravings and energy, you’ll be more likely to succeed at it.

3. Give yourself the opportunity to indulge by planning ahead.

What happens when you go to the gym and train and train and train for hours every single day? Your muscles never get to recover and they begin to break down. In other words, your plan ends up backfiring on you. The same happens with willpower depletion.

Traditional dieting often involves a lot of self-deprivation, which lowers willpower until it hits a point where it doesn’t stand a chance against your impulses. That’s why traditional diets don’t really work. Instead, it’s wiser to give yourself the chance to indulge in some of your favorite foods by consciously planning to cheat on your diet on the day that you know you’ll be attending a holiday party, a potluck at work or large meal.

BONUS: Work on integrating more healthy habits into your daily life. Habits are regular practices that get easier and become somewhat automatic the more frequently you do them, and they can be used to support and boost your willpower even when you are feeling slightly hungrier than usual, a little stressed, kind of tired or craving something bad.

The above tips are simple to understand, but they’re not always easy to implement. Mistakes will happen. You may get swept up in the moment of festive cheerfulness and forget all about your health goals. Remember that it’s not the end of the world if that happens.

However you decide to plan to stay on top of your eating habits this holiday season, hopefully it strikes a nice balance between self-discipline, good habits and indulgence. That’s the way to maximize your willpower!

Related Articles
5 Guilty Pleasures and How to Indulge in Them the Right Way
10 Bad Health Habits to Avoid This Fall and Winter
7 Tips for a Healthy Relationship with Food

Photo Credit: Cristian Bortes

90 comments

Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R11 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R11 months ago

Thanks

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W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thanks.

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William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

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Sonia M

Thanks for sharing

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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