Eating To Improve Your Willpower

We all need a certain amount of willpower to get through our daily. What most people don’t know is that some foods can undermine our willpower, making us more passive and inert, and less likely to do the things we know are good for us, while other foods can supercharge our willpower.

Demotivating Foods

Some foods slow you down, make you feel heavy, and make it harder to muster the will to do things you don’t like to do.

This list of foods may look familiar to you, because almost any healthy eating plan will recommend avoiding or minimising your intake of these foods. Not because of their effects on your will-power, but for other reasons.

By avoiding these foods, you will boost not only your will-power, but also your general health.

Deep-Fried Foods

We evolved to seek out fatty foods for their calorie value, in an environment where most of our diet was very low in fat. It’s not your fault that you love fatty food, but to cultivate your willpower, make sure those fats come from the most healthy sources – which definitely don’t include deep-fried food!

Choose roasted foods over deep-fried foods, vegetable fats over animal fats, and raw or cold-pressed over cooked fats.


There is no way to sugar-coat this – sugar saps your will-power.

Again, we were given this craving by evolution in a low-calorie environment. We can’t change our biology, but we can make conscious choices.

Try cutting out sugar (including high fructose corn syrup, and any other forms of concentrated sucrose or fructose) from your diet for three months – you will be amazed at all the places it is hidden, so read all food labels carefully.

White Flour

Will they leave us no pleasures at all? Just when we had found a recipe for sugar-free cookies …

The part of the grain which drives our willpower is in the germ, so use whole grains, brown rice, and add wheatgerm to your breakfast cereal.

And there is no harm in trying that sugar-free cookie recipe with wholemeal flour – you may need to adjust the amounts of liquids in the recipe, though, as wholemeal flour tends to absorb more liquid than white flour.

Motivating Foods

Al last, we come to the list of things we CAN eat!

Warming Spices

Heat drives the fire of motivation, so any herbs and spices with a warming effect will help to build your willpower.

Drink as much as you can of ginger tea, cinnamon tea, and basil tea, made with fresh ingredients if possible.

Add turmeric, chilli, ginger, basil and combination curry mixes to your cooking.

If you carry a water bottle, drop some cinnamon sticks or basil leaves into the bottle to give your water a will-power-building boost.


Buckwheat is a grain which is mostly famous for making good pancakes. Unfortunately, the sugar, butter and ice cream which often go with pancakes cancel out the empowering aspect of the buckwheat. To truly benefit from eating buckwheat, it needs to be considered part of the main meal, not part of dessert.

Buckwheat can be eaten instead of rice or pasta, mixed with brown rice to add variety and flavour, or even cooked into a porridge like oatmeal. It is better to eat it in a drier form, though, to maximise the boost to your willpower.

Sesame Seeds

A sesame seed is a veritable powerhouse of nutrition and taste. Add sesame seeds to everything!

Sesame seeds can be roasted, or eaten raw, and can also be eaten in the form of tahini, a nutty-flavoured sauce made by blending sesame seeds in a blender.

While they are not quite as strong in their effect as the other will-power foods, green leafy vegetables are a great way to get your vitamins and minerals while giving your will-power a boost.

In a balanced diet, you will need to eat a range of different fruits and vegetables, grains, and proteins. If you want to experiment with eating only the will-power-building foods, limit your experiment to a maximum of ten days at a time, and eat more widely for at least three or four days before starting the limited diet again.

Of course, the demotivating foods are not a necessary part of a balanced diet, so you will have only good effects if you eliminate them completely from your diet.



Eat Consciously

Jenny Ford Hale

Jenny Hale is an executive coach, who specialises in helping her clients meet their financial goals without sacrificing their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. She is currently a permanent traveller, and her journal can be found at Travelling Light .

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