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Empathy Gap: Why Willpower Alone Won’t Work When Dieting



How often have you set yourself up for one of the following?

✓ An all natural, gluten free, restrictive diet containing nothing but whole foods?

✓ A new gym plan training 5x a week?

✓ A zero tolerance alcohol free year/month?

✓ Or even a zero tolerance to processed foods?

To only get a few weeks / days in and completely crumble..

Happens a lot, right?

Especially when March roles round and that new years resolution of no alcohol isn’t looking so good right now when there’s a hot Sunday and your mate, Dave, is having the first BBQ of the year round his house with all your mates.

healthy food empathy gap

Thing is, when you’ve tried to change, perhaps not just in your health, but life and build new habits you’ve come across the empathy gap.I had it last night.

Said I’ll hoover in the AM, you know, when I’m more awake…Didn’t happen.In fact, I snoozed my alarm for another 15 minutes

That right there is the Hot-Cold empathy gap.

Wikipedia defines it like this; A cognitive bias in which a person underestimates the influences of visceral drives, and instead attributes behaviour primarily to other, non-visceral factors. In other words, It’s the inability to resist temptation when triggered with a bad habit.

You know how hard it is to resist this habit you’re so desperately trying to get rid of, right?That right there my friend is the killer of results you’re so desperately after.But what can you do to overcome the hot cold empathy gap (HCEG) and begin to improve your habits, live a better life and finally achieve better, long term results?

Ones where you don’t have to restrict, or rely on willpower to get you through the day.Whilst not perfect, the following 5 points have helped our clients overcome this HCEG and begin to create long lasting change.

Premeditate your failures.

Understand this. You will mess up. You will cave in. It’s natural, you’re human.If you’re aware you’re going to mess up on your goal, it’s a lot easier to deal with it when it comes along. For instance, if you wanted to cut out processed foods from your diet for 30 days but 1 weekend you find that granola, burgers, and cheesey jalopeno dips have gone down a treat what you gonna do?

Or if you’ve had a few beers having tried to go cold turkey for a year, what’s the next step?

Is it caving in, saying ‘what the hell?’ Or is there some way of rectifying the situation so it doesn’t get out of hand and leaves you still in a comfortable position?Perhaps it’s just going for a 30 minute walk the next day? Or shaving some calories off the next few days to equate for the increased calorie intake from that birthday bash?

It doesn’t have to be drastic, just realistic…

Ego Depletion is real


At least, studies have shown it to be. Willpower is similar to a muscle. Use it enough and it’ll get tired. Perhaps why you struggle when you get in, in the evening…

Those crisps or chocolate bars looks so appealing right now…Like a muscle though, it can be strengthened and the best way to do that is to work on one habit at a time.Keep building solid habits, slowly and focus on the art of habit stacking to improve your health.

Find Less Triggers

If you’re goal is to eat healthier, and less processed then it goes without saying that you shouldn’t buy those foods.

If you want 30 days sober, then don’t leave alcohol at home…

Your hands + that food = disaster

So,Make the right behaviour the easiest thing to do.

Even for a short little while, maybe a week or two, just to break the cycle and then when you’re ready further down the line with a better appreciation of your diet you can say hello again.

Stack It Like A Double Bacon Cheeseburger

First came the burger, then the cheese burger, then the bacon cheeseburger until now

Where we have the glorious double bacon cheeseburger.

See, it wasn’t introduced straight away, yet a few years later AFTER the success of the aforementioned burgers.

You with me?

Be realistic here. If you’re goal is to go cold turkey and you’re used to having 3 drinks a night?

Then can you reduce it to 2 a night for the first two weeks?

Then one a night for a month?

Then 3 a week and so forth.

Build that habit up until it’s unbreakable. But the great the thing about this is that it wasn’t going gung ho straight away, yet focusing on small, subtle changes over time.

This way you’re likely to find it easier, and more sustainable too…

Once you nail on habit, move to the next and so on until you’ve completed your mission and feel satisfied.

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