This post was also shared at http://www.scerf.com, my health coaching website.
Twice a day, I carefully measure portions of food for each of our dogs. No matter how much they beg, that’s all they get. If they are getting fat, we cut back. If they are thin, we add more. If we didn’t do this, our terrier might regulate on her own and survive, but our lab would overeat and probably kill himself sooner or later.
Why do we think humans are different? Why do we think humans should have this great willpower when it comes to food? We are built to want to eat, and eat. Though just as our dogs, some have this instinct stronger than others. Our instincts come from a time of scarcity, not the abundance of today, not to mention the fact that companies design foods now to be irresistible.
Dogs have us to control their portions. We have to create our own perimeters.
Those might be societal. We can regulate school breakfasts and lunches. We can regulate the size of soft drinks and fries. We could require all convenience stores to carry fresh foods. We could ban the sale of crappy fake foods.
Or the perimeters might be on a personal or family level. We can control what is in our home. We can reduce temptation by reducing options and availability. We can decide to never buy certain things. We can choose to abstain. Or viewed more positively, we might choose to only eat whole foods, or to ensure we are getting vegetables with every meal.
Relying on willpower is a bad strategy. Berating oneself for a lack of willpower is counterproductive and goes against your nature. But you are responsible to take control of your environment.