Learn How To Control Your Cravings Through Improved Willpower
Let's do a quick hypothetical:
Pretend that these delicious-looking cupcakes pictured above are calorie free (if only).
You just got home from a long day of work and you're starving.
You can have one right now, BUT...
if you wait one hour you get two, no strings attached.
Would you be able to wait the hour?
Let's see how these kids fare in a similar test...
This “marshmallow experiment” is a classic test of a child’s ability to delay gratification.
Interestingly, in the original Stanford experiment in the 1960s, they found in follow-up studies that the children who were able to delay gratification and wait longer for that second marshmallow tended to have better life outcomes.
As adults, we all have our own “marshmallows” to deal with.
And while it may be easy to make the right choice sequestered in the safety of a controlled environment such as your home, what happens when you have to venture out into the world and face those temptations head on?
Donuts at work, holidays, birthdays, social engagements…
It’s nearly impossible to make it through the day without facing some sort of temptation.
Is there anything you can do to strengthen your resolve and crush those cravings?
Well, I’ve got 5 research-backed strategies that will help you do just that!
These are strategies that I’ve both used personally and with my online coaching clients, and have found them to be extremely effective.
The strategies found in this article are from an excellent presentation by Kelly McGonigal titled, “The Will Power Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It.”
She also has a book on the subject, if you’re interested.
Here we go!
1. Improve Your “Willpower Muscle”
This step is designed to improve the physiology of your willpower; in other words, rather than simply helping you manage your willpower, it will actually increase the amount of willpower available to you. There have been some interesting developments in the field of neuroplasticity that suggest that we may be able to improve the efficiency—and perhaps even grow certain sections—of our brains, even as adults.
Here’s where you should start:
Doing these three things consistently for at least a couple of months should result in noticeable changes. More specifically, your pre-frontal cortex may actually get bigger/denser and you will be able to enjoy the benefits of a better-fueled, “stronger” brain.
Plus, these three things have plenty of additional benefits outside of improving willpower, so it’s a win-win!
2. Do NOT Beat Yourself Up When You Have A Willpower Failure
It's called distress tolerance. How well are you able to tolerate an uncomfortable situation or sensation? When you REALLY want that pint of ice cream, but you know it's not in line with your goals, how do you get past that craving?
Instead of immediately giving in (which most of us do), next time you are in a similar situation, try this:
McGonigal calls this technique “surfing the urge.” Will it magically allow you to conquer all cravings?
But it is a research backed technique which has been shown to help improve your chances of overcoming those cravings.
You can craft your perfect “food environment” and practice all the positive, health habits you want, but no matter how well you prepare, sooner or later you will encounter temptation.
This technique is a great “in the moment” way to help get through it!
Willpower is something we all struggle with. You don’t have to do everything on this list…
I realize some of these strategies may seem a little frou-frou, or “new-agey,” with the meditation/mindfulness and “connecting to your future self,” but I encourage you to give it a shot nonetheless.
Don’t let a little skepticism hold you back from a potentially beneficial tool!
Let me know what you think of these strategies; I’d love to get some feedback.
What strategies to control cravings and improve willpower have worked well for you?
Drop a comment below!