Struggling to Stay Keto? Why Relying on Willpower Is a Bad Idea
It’s happened again.
You’ve succumbed, and lost the battle with:
- the chocolate chip cookie staring back at you as soon as you open your pantry
- the bread that’s right in the middle of your dining table
- the easy-to-cook, kid friendly spaghetti dinner that’ll be ready in 30 minutes.
And just like like last time, you were quick to blame yourself for not enough willpower, poor motivation, or lack of self-discipline.
But what if it weren’t those things at all? What if it wasn’t your fault? And what if it was entirely something else in your control that you can easily turn into your favor?
Candy bars and grocery stores
Ever wonder why candy bars are at sold at the checkout line at grocery stores? It’s not a random placement.
It’s based on a study out of Stanford Research Institute called Suggested Impulse Buying. It says you don’t necessarily buy something because you want it, you buy it because of how it’s presented to you.
Think about it. Would you have even thought about going to the candy aisle if it wasn’t Halloween?
But now there it is, so cleverly placed in front you, where you can’t miss it: at the checkout line.
| You didn’t have to exercise willpower when you weren’t presented with a candy bar. But now you do.
Bottled waters and a hospital cafeteria
But what if you were presented with healthy choices instead?
That’s exactly what researchers did at the hospital cafeteria of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston:
a) They added bottled waters in all their refrigerators.The major refrigerator units still had soda in them, they just added bottled waters to it.
b) They added baskets of bottled water which were placed throughout the room.
Nobody said a word about any of these changes and yet soda sales dropped by 16.5% and bottled water sales rose by 25.8%. Behavior changed all because customers were simply presented with a healthier choice.
| Without tapping into your willpower, you can make better choices just by changing your environment.
Change your environment
1. Surround yourself with keto staples
Stock your fridge and pantry with some of these simple and basic ketogenic food staples.
- Meat (rib-eye, t-bone, ground)
- Poultry (thighs, wings)
- Pork (bacon, pork belly, ribs)
- Seafood (salmon, tuna, mackerel)
- Low carb veggies (*avoid starchy veggies like beans, carrots, corn, parsnips, peas, potatoes, yam)
- Leafy greens
- Real butter
- Cheese (*avoid highly processed ones like Velveeta, Kraft Singles)
- Cream (heavy cream, sour cream)
- Nuts (macadamia, pecans, almonds, walnuts)
- Beverage (water, plain sparkling water, coffee, tea)
- Optional: sugar substitute (liquid stevia, pure granulated erythritol)
2. Win the battle at the grocery store
Imagine your grocery cart as a fortress. It needs to be fiercely defended. It’s the point at which you don’t let the enemies in.
If bread is not in your grocery cart, it doesn’t end up in your home, and you don’t have a bread battle to fight to begin with. Eliminate them.
Here are some of the worst offenders:
- bread, muffins, bagels
- tortillas, wraps
- rice, pasta, potatoes
- grains (even “whole” grains), flour, cornmeal
- chips, crackers
- desserts, treats
3. Deploy a winning strategy
But your fortress can be breached. It happens. Perhaps not everyone in your home is trying the keto lifestyle.
Now what? “Hide” them.
| “Eye level, is buy level”.
Tap into the science of how Visual Merchandising and Shelf Placement influences a consumer’s buying behavior. Did you know that grocery items placed at eye level sell more?
- Place keto food staples at eye level shelves in your fridge or pantry (so it’s the first thing you see).
- Place a basket in the middle of the dining table for non-refrigerated keto items like nuts and avocado (so it’s in your line of vision).
- Put non-keto foods in a place where it wouldn’t be at your eye level (i.e. lower shelves, higher shelves).
- Put non-keto foods in a place where you’d have to overcome an obstacle or a barrier to get to it. Make it harder for yourself to get it. For example, place cookies on the highest part of the cupboard so you’d have to pull a chair and stand up on it to get to the cookie.
- See if you can get a trusted member of your household to hide non-keto foods from you. It can be moved around if you accidentally find them.
The problem with relying on willpower
Willpower is a limited resource. It gets drained as you use it for all kinds of decisions you make throughout the day — big or small.
And it’s depleted when you need it the most: like at the end of a long day, when you’re tired, stressed, or sleep deprived.
Making little changes to your environment may seem too simple, trivial, or inadequate to make a difference.
But the results are real.
It’s easier to run on concrete than it is to run on a thick sandy beach. It has nothing to do with your running skills, it’s the environment you run on.
It’s easier to find pumpkin spice lattes in the Fall than it is during the Summer. It has nothing to do with your perseverance, it’s the environment in which you find it.
Likewise, a ketogenic lifestyle doesn’t have to be a constant struggle and an uphill battle.
| It’s not about sheer willpower.
Picture yourself in an environment where keto choices are the default. Create this winning advantage. And let your behavior follow suit.