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When people ask me about eating better to improve their lives, the topic of willpower is sure to come up. And that part of the conversation almost always goes something like this:

“I want to feel better, and I know that I have to eat better to do it. But I just don’t have the willpower.”

It’s a shame, but one of the biggest hurdles people have in changing the way they eat is that they view eating right as a constant test of willpower. The truth is if you put a little more effort into planning your eating, then willpower never even comes into play

Consider the (probably quite familiar) situation where you’re driving home on a Tuesday after a long day of work. You’re tired, you had a crappy day, and you’re hungry.

  • Scenario 1: You visit a fast food drive drive-thru or use a fast casual restaurant app on your smartphone to order a bunch of food for curbside pickup.
  • Scenario 2: You planned ahead and spent an hour on Sunday cooking a bunch of vegetables, grass-fed beef and organic chicken. So you know that you can throw everything into a skillet to reheat, and within 10 minutes after getting home you could be eating a healthy and delicious meal.

Avoiding the junk food in Scenario 2 doesn’t have anything to do with willpower. It has everything to do with planning ahead and making sure that you don’t let yourself fall into a situation where you might be tempted into making a bad decision.

In other words, when you plan ahead you don’t have to rely on your willpower. You simply have to follow through with the plan you made for yourself. So meal planning lets you balance your desire for tasty foods with the hassle of figuring out what to eat each and every night. A tool like Real Plans can make the process even easier.

When you plan out your meals, you’ll do a better job of only getting healthful foods at the grocery store, so it’s less likely there will be junk food in your pantry. Personally, I try to avoid ever going to the store without a list. I know from experience that when I wing it I’m much more likely to be tempted by my favorite snacks. When I go with a list, all I have to do is stick to the list and not put any more thought into what I should or shouldn’t buy. I’ve already made all my buying decisions when I wrote out the list.

Planning can even help you eat better when you go out to eat, and I’ve written about that in more detail [here].

But that’s not to say that getting started and making a better plan for a healthier you is easy. You might not know where to start, what to focus on in the initial weeks and months, and what kind of planning approach works best for you. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation to discuss how I can help, just click [here].

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