After a busy day of putting out fires, running around, and dealing with more stress than any one human should endure, how do you cope? Ever find yourself reaching for a cookie, pretzels, chocolate, or some other else!? In a moment of weakness it is so easy to give into temptation. Food becomes our reward for getting through the day.
Our body is a machine. When we are busy we tend to neglect the most essential part, the power supply; also known as our brain. Our brain obtains power from glucose which comes from carbohydrates. Sufficient glucose supports willpower and sound decision making.
As you start the day you might have great willpower, resisting the urge to eat doughnuts at breakfast and treats around the office at lunch. But as the day progresses each act of resistance challenges your willpower. If you skip meals or go too long without eating your glucose levels can run low and your willpower weakens more, especially late in the day. This explains why people with exceptional willpower in other areas of life might still struggle with weight loss. In order not to eat junk a person needs willpower but in order to have willpower a person needs to eat.
Fatigue is the biggest enemy when it comes to healthy eating. It increases activity in the brain that seeks out pleasure, while hindering brain function particularly in areas of impulse control and decision making. People who are fatigued or chronically sleep deprived eat more calories and more high-fat and high-sugar foods as a result.
In order to combat fatigue and keep your power supply running strong you need to eat the right food at the right time. Maintaining stable blood glucose will support strong willpower and help you avoid temptations from morning to night.
Start by eating breakfast within 2 hours of waking up. Plan for a mid-morning snack 2-3 hours after breakfast if you wake up early, otherwise aim for lunch about 4 hours after breakfast. Many hours can span between lunch and dinner so a mid-afternoon snack is very important. Eat enough calories early in the day when you are most active. Aim for 2/3 of your calories before dinner, including complex sources of carbohydrates to fuel your brain such as fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.