Will Power

One of the most common things I have heard these past few years is “I don’t have the willpower.” What people are characterising is their inability to stay true to cause, faced with the onslaught of food. The ability to say no to pizza, cookies or whatever it is you fancy. The very same emotion that gets companies to claim “you can’t eat just one.” The fault though lies more in chemistry than will. Dopamine to be more exact. Each time you do something that causes your pleasure it releases dopamine a.k.a. the pleasure hormone. This then makes you want the next ‘hit.’ It is much like a drug. So how do you break the cycle? Read on.

You may have noticed it. Each week on Sunday afternoon you crave dark chocolate cookies. You may have none left at home. Your body though is unforgiving. It would go far and wide to seek solace that can only be found in that darn cookie. This is called trigger based habit formation. Your body has gotten used to its fix. Eat something completely different for a few weeks.

You, on the other hand, may load up on sugar when low, stressed or upset. The sugar gives your body a rush. This releases happy hormones dopamine and serotonin. The rest is a slippery slope. You keep wanting the sugar to feel better. Often long after the stress has gone. This is called emotional eating. Fill yourself with slow release complex carbohydrates or protein instead. It will break the habit.

Some of us crave a particular type of food. Often salty things. This could be your body telling you that it is missing a mineral. Perhaps potassium or zinc. You are foraging in salty things trying to find the mineral. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet.

So is it will power? The answer is yes and no. The chemicals are overpowering your ability to exert will. It is the same willpower you will use to break your habit.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.