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20 Ways to Control Your Willpower Against Bad Food Habits

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Are you able to control your willpower when it comes to food, during this crazy pandemic?

When it comes to our eating habits and striving for better health; being confined and  “self-quarantined,” can trigger a lack of “food self-control.”

Eating out of boredom, compulsive eating, or stress is extremely detrimental for all the hard work you have accomplished towards healthy living.

In general, humans tend to worry about the short-term, rather than the long-term.

Since the dawn of civilization, humans instinctively lived a life of short-term focus.

You better eat now, because, who knows when you will eat again.

However, in our modern world, this kind of thinking can cause obesity, heart disease, diabetes, among other life-shorting aliments.

The same goes for this pandemic.

Yes, it is serious, but like all others before it…this too, will eventually pass.

Willpower is a muscle

Our willpower over food is much like the muscles in our bodies; the more you use it, the stronger it will become.

If you want stronger bicep muscles, develop a routine of lifting weights. Over time, you’ll be able to do more curls, and with higher weights, which will lead to success.

High stress, like our current pandemic, can lower your willpower.

Whenever we have significant stress, our brains search for a quick reward.

Hopefully, you have not already found yourself scraping the bottom of a quart of ice cream, while scrolling through Facebook during your forced quarantine?   unhappy emoji

Make sure you are finding outlets to relieve your stress, such as exercise, yoga, taking a walk, or meditation.

When it comes to a more healthy lifestyle change, willpower is a key component.

20 Ways to control your willpower

20. Forgive yourself for lack of willpower

It’s natural to have willpower failures. Research shows that people who forgive themselves actually develop stronger self-control than people who criticize themselves. Self-criticism is also strongly associated with depression.

19. Stop and breath

Whenever you feel stressed and are about to do something you know you shouldn’t, make yourself stop, take a few breaths, and relax your body. Getting to a calmer physiological state helps you get to a better mental state, one where you have a much better chance of doing the right thing.

18. Increase your water intake

Water is 100% calorie-free, helps you burn more calories, and can suppress your appetite if consumed between meals. I always feel fuller longer, when drinking 16-18 ounces of water during each meal.

17. Get enough sleep

A lack of sleep not only saps your ability to think well, but it also hampers your ability to do what you really should be doing. Studies show that we need 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night.

16. Take a nap

Related to the above. If you don’t get enough sleep, or if you’re just feeling sleepy, take a short snooze: 10-20 minutes can make a world of difference. Be sure to set an alarm so you can really let yourself go without worrying about sleeping too long.

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15. Stop and wait 10 minutes

Your brain often focuses on the very short term, especially when you see something interesting and distracting, or if you smell something tasty you’d love to eat. Make yourself wait for 10 minutes, and while you wait, think about your long-term goals and why this temptation is not in your best interest. Frequently you’ll find that when the 10 minutes are up, so is your self-discipline—and you’ll be able to say no.

14. Stop buying tempting foods

Figure out what your “tempting foods are” and do not buy them. If the temptation is not in the house, you can’t give in.

What kind of snacker are you

13. Focus on the consequences

Consider what having that snack will do to the progress you have already made?

If you give in right now – you may also give in later, making your willpower weaker.

12. Start small in other areas, not food

You can build willpower for important aspects of your life by initially developing self-control in smaller areas. For example, start with making the bed every day, or do a few stretches every morning before getting out of bed.

FREE FOOD JOURNAL11. Determine when you are the strongest and when you are the weakest

Do you snack late a night? Are you like me and have something sweet in the middle of the workday? Record your willpower successes and failures for a few days, or even a couple of weeks. Track what happens and also write down how you felt when your willpower gave out, and why you think it happened. Make changes to curb this in the future.

10. Be future-focused

Think about the long-term consequences of resisting the temptation. “If I avoid this type of snack, I will get closer to my goal weight or feeling healthier.”

9. Reach out for support

Despite being in quarantine, you can reach out for support. Social media, write an email or phone a friend.

8. Improve your mood

Food to improve your mood

Read my post about what foods can help you improve mood and get you over your willpower hump.

7. Brush your teeth

This one works for me. If I am tempted to have something sweet after lunch, as previously noted, this is when I am the weakest, I go brush my teeth. Clean teeth deter me from eating anything for the short-term, or at least until the next mealtime.

6. Find a distraction

If the temptation is strong, try doing something else with your hands. For example, cleaning, taking a walk, or gardening.

5. Remove yourself from the situation

If you are craving a snack while watching a movie, pause the movie, get up and move around. Leave the room. Take a walk. If you are sitting at your desk, get up and move around. Take a quick 5-minute walk around the office. It will make you think about something else.

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4. Use your imagination

Visualize yourself after your weight loss goals are met? Imagine your life after getting healthy? Use these images as motivation to resist the temptation.

3. Use self-affirmation

Research shows that self-affirmation can help you have more self-control. A good example of this is the difference between telling yourself, “I can’t” and “I don’t.” Take control of the situation using the phrase “I don’t” has been shown to be more effective at helping you stick to your plan and break bad habits.

2. Snack on healthy foods

Yes, this one is obvious, however, it takes a conscious effort to reach for the more healthy food, when you are trying to change bad habits. Make sure snacks are low in calories.

1. Success = reward

If you had a week, where you did NOT cave to unhealthy eating habits and avoided bad snacks, then reward yourself. This is a marathon, a lifestyle change – it is not a sprint. Train your brain to accept rewards for success. What are good rewards? That depends upon each individual. If I did not snack the previous week, I reward myself with an extra cup of coffee on the weekends. Maybe, I watch a movie I was looking forward to. The point is to do something for yourself.

Use these 20 ways to control your willpower against bad food habits anytime.

Let me know if you have any suggestions for improving willpower.

Meanwhile, here is an easy dinner for two…Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas with a Homemade Red Sauce

This dinner can be made in under one hour, despite making your own red sauce from scratch.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Enchiladas, Red sauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Author JoAnn



  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups chicken stock

For the Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion peeled and chopped
  • 8 oz. bag of southwestern flavored precooked chicken.  I chop my up into smaller pieces.
  • 4 oz. can of diced green chiles
  • 1/2 can of re-fried beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 6 burrito sized flour tortillas
  • 2 cups of cheese shredded


Making the Red Sauce

  • Place a small saucepan over medium heat, begin to heat oil
  • Once oil is heated, add flour and whisk together for about 1 minute, till thoroughly combined.
  • Stir in all remaining seasonings.
  • Gradually add the chicken stock, while whisking constantly. 
    Continue till all lumps are removed.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Sauce will slightly thicken.

While sauce is simmering...

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Place refried beans in a microwavable bowl, and heat on high for 2 minutes.
  • After 2 minutes, stir. Heat again for 1 minute.  Remove from microwave.
  • In a 10"-nonstick skillet, add the 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil and turn to medium-high heat.
  • Once heated, add chopped onion and saute, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for about 5-6 minutes.
  • Add green chilies, salt and pepper.  Saute for about 2 minutes more.
  • Add precooked chicken and heat until warm through, approximately 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Sit aside.
  • Assemble your enchiladas.
  • Place a tortilla on a flat surface.
  • Spread about a tablespoon of the enchilada sauce down the middle of the tortilla.
  • Spread about a tablespoon of the re-fried beans on the surface of the tortilla, concentrating mainly down the middle.
  • Sprinkle some of the chicken/onion mixture on top of the beans.  I just used my hands.
  • Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cheese on top of the chicken mixture.
  • Moving from one side of the tortilla, roll it up into a tube and place in an ovenproof, deep container.
  • Lay the tortillas in a row, next to each other.
  • Spread the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the shells.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Place in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until cheese appears bubbly.
  • Serve with chopped iceberg lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

Give me your thoughts...