Starving Dietitian

Cents of Willpower


By now I hope you’re well aware that nutrition really encompasses a wide range of subjects. I’ve talked about genetics, cooking, biology, all these topics you might not originally think would apply. The one I’ve somewhat avoided, though not for any particular reason, is Psychology.

It’s not for lack of want however, it’s just once you open Pandoras box, there’s no going back. I’ll be the first to admit I’m no expert in psychology. It wasn’t until later in my education I even realized how intertwined it was with the way we eat.

I think if you asked whether psychology played a crucial role in diet and nutrition, the majority of people would undoubtedly say yes. So why is it we place so little emphasis on it?

Granted, it’s fairly common to link eating disorders to psychological roadblocks. Ever hear the phrase “Don’t eat your feelings”? So we know there’s some link, but where to begin.

The best place to start on this mammoth of a subject, is willpower.

Willpower is sort of like a dream in the sense that everyone knows its real, but nobody really gives it much credibility. Much like dreams, you can’t really measure willpower. But in the same way, just because we can’t measure it, doesn’t mean it can’t exist.

What research has shown time and again is that willpower really is like a muscle. The more you use it, the better you get at controlling it.

Think of willpower like a jar of pennies, sitting in a bank. Maybe as a  young kid you find a few pennies, get a few for birthdays, earn a few in interest perhaps. Over time, you jar begins to grow.


As it grows, you have more spending power, just like willpower. The only difference being the more willpower you “spend”, the larger the jar grows.

One little issue. If you spend too much in a day, you become victim to your own cravings.

Let’s say you had a particularly difficult day at work, that uses pennies. You get home and you have a choice, eat out, or stay in and cook. In this case cooking spends more pennies than eating out. You have a choice to make. After dinner you have yet another choice, workout or veg on the couch. You can guess which takes more pennies. Now it’s 10 pm and you’re hungry again. If you’ve worked hard and resisted all these little temptations, you may be out of pennies to resist a late night splurge.


The one saving grace, if you’ve used up your pennies and not devoured your cabinets, your jar tomorrow is bigger than before.

Now you begin to see why willpower is like a muscle, the more you break it down, the stronger it grows back.

So, with that being said. Just remember that eating right is really all about, common cents. 

Be good to each other.

– Joshua Iufer

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