of us have experienced the positive changes that come after a couple of months of eating LCHF: we sleep better, have more energy and focus, lose weight and generally feel so much better than we did before that we can’t imagine ever being tempted to go back to a carb-soaked life.
Eating the LCHF way scores better than almost every other way of eating in terms of longevity – that is, being able to make it a lifestyle, rather than a temporary solution. But the very fact that we feel so much better so soon can be problematic for many of us: we feel so sure of our newfound wellbeing and resolve that we think the odd splurge here and there won’t be a problem – we have it all under control.
But a recent story in Psychology Today, which looks at addiction and self-control, tells us why this can be such a dangerous attitude. ‘The biggest self-control challenge is to maintain the discipline not just for days or weeks but for a long duration,’ writes Shahram Heshmat, PhD.
So far, so good. After that the story gets a bit weird, but stick with us because we think it offers what could be a useful tool: Heshmat sees our struggle with self-control as a conflict between our present and future selves. The idea is that all of us are transient to some extent – we will not be the same person tomorrow as we are today, or even over the course of one day: ‘For example, the individual who in the morning prefers to avoid overeating might prefer indulgence in the evening,’ he says – something we can definitely relate to!
So the ‘best’ decision for Present You is often not the best decision for Future You. The problem is that even though both You’s know that cutting carbs makes you feel better, the decision not to eat that delicious-looking pasta always depends on Present You, and Present You is somewhat unreliable when it comes to making the right decision for Future You. For Present You, the easiest choice may be to give in to temptation, leaving the problem of getting back on track to Future You: ‘I’ll start (again) tomorrow.’ Which means you will never be successful, because you will always have to make that decision in the present, and it becomes a habit to defer it to the future.
The solution? Not to make decisions on a case-by-case basis, says Heshmat. Present You and Future You need to collude for your wellbeing; we need to realise that Future You depends on Present You to do the right thing – and then we need to do it. All the time. ‘Let’s do this!’ Until next time THE LOSE IT! TEAM