Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D., a brain and cognitive scientist and author of Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin and Free (Hay House, March 2017) offers five key steps to manage holiday eating.
Plan ahead. Don’t leave yourself to make decisions in the moment when you’re tired, hungry or overwhelmed by the crowd. Decide in advance what you will eat each day and when so you won’t be making food choices at times of day when your willpower is depleted.
Eat regular meals. When regular meals become part of the scaffolding of your life, it takes the burden off of willpower. A schedule of eating three meals a day at regular mealtimes—breakfast, lunch, and dinner —not only helps eating the right things become automatic, but also passing up the wrong things in between.
Reduce stress. Stress and the emotional regulation that go along with it taxes your willpower. So wherever possible, modify or avoid the things that tap your resources. Where it can’t be avoided just bringing awareness that an upcoming situation is going to deplete you — such as that dreaded political conversation with your dad’s aunt — can prevent your falling into the Willpower Gap.
Get enough sleep. Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night. Sleep is a powerful willpower replenisher.
Practice an attitude of gratitude. Research shows that something as simple as expressing gratitude will replenish willpower. Gratitude also helps shift the focus from what you want, or crave, to what you have.
This original healthy living article first appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.