Group Forum: "Willpower"

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Joined: Jul 12
Posts: 183

Posted: 16 Oct 2019, 22:38

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This article is presented in parts, some of which are not specific to weight control but all of which are instructive! The "Key Points and Conclusions" (copied from the article) provide only a summary. I've italicized the "key points and conclusions" that seem relevant to "willpower" when it comes to food, dieting, and weight control. However, all the information is valuable.

Key Points and Conclusions

-- Willpower is the ability to resist short-term gratification in pursuit of long-term goals or objectives.

-- Willpower is correlated with positive life outcomes such as better grades, higher self-esteem, lower substance abuse rates, greater financial security and improved physical and mental health.

-- When willpower fails, exposure to an emotionally charged stimulus overrides one’s rational, cognitive system, leading to impulsive actions.

-- One’s capacity for self-control appears to be persistent. Children with better self-control as preschoolers tend to have better self-control as adults.

-- Individuals with low self-control show differing brain patterns when presented with tempting stimuli.

-- Willpower can be compared to a muscle that becomes fatigued with overuse. Studies show that repeatedly resisting temptation drains your ability to withstand future enticements.

-- Willpower depletion has a physical basis. Individuals whose willpower has been depleted have decreased activity in a brain region involved with cognition, and have lower blood-glucose levels than do people whose willpower has not been diminished.

-- The effects of willpower depletion may be mitigated by positive moods, beliefs and attitudes.

-- Willpower depletion impacts a range of behaviors, including food intake, substance use and abuse and purchasing behavior.

-- Financial decision-making may be even more depleting for people living in poverty, since virtually all financial decisions are likely to represent difficult tests of self-control among people who are financially insecure.

-- Avoiding temptation and planning ahead are effective tactics for maintaining self-control in the face of temptation.

-- With the right motivation, you may be able to persevere even when your willpower strength has been depleted.

-- Maintaining steady blood-glucose levels*, such as by eating regular healthy meals and snacks, may help prevent the effects of willpower depletion.

-- Because being depleted in one area can reduce willpower in other spheres, it is more effective to focus on a single goal at a time rather than attacking a list of multiple resolutions at once.

-- Just as muscles are strengthened by regular exercise, regularly exerting self-control may improve willpower strength over time.


One can maintain "steady blood-glucose levels" in a variety of ways. The "standard" advice of the American Diabetes Association is to eat three meals and two (or three) snacks per day, consuming hundreds of grams of carbohydrates in the process, and taking anti-hyperglycemic medication(s) to keep average blood sugar at or below 150 mg/dL and A1c at or under 7.0%. (Those are the ADA's "goals" for treatment!)

This is greatly dependent on a person's "discipline" or lack of same -- read "willpower." When this "technique" fails, it leads inevitably to higher blood sugar levels, more and different and higher doses of medications, and progressively more severe diabetic complications -- from mild end organ damage to death.

However, there are other ways! Eating a very low-carbohydrate diet; combining a low-carb diet with intermittent fasting; or by practicing extended fasting, one can stabilize and normalize one's blood sugar levels.

It's important to test your blood sugar regularly, at least for a few weeks, to know how a particular way of eating impacts your blood sugar. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, it is critical that you (1) know what a "normal" blood sugar level is and (2) choose a way of eating that stabilizes and normalizes your blood sugar level throughout the day.

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