It’s difficult to change behaviour, overcome addictions, and develop healthier habits, especially if we rely on willpower. Willpower works like a muscle – it gets stronger with practice but the daily store of willpower is limited and gets depleted with over-use.
In a world of temptation where unhealthy foods are all around, alcohol and street drugs are easy to get, and modern conveniences make it easy to be inactive, reliance on self-control and self-discipline is a set-up for personal failure.
Part of the solution is to change our surroundings to make healthy choices easier, and unhealthy choices more difficult. Too often it’s the other way around. For example, refrigerators and vending machines stocked with pop, energy drinks, chips and chocolate bars set us up to make unhealthy choices. Imagine if cut-up fruit and vegetables were as easy to grab as a bag of chips.
Making healthier options available and limiting unhealthy choices – at home, work and school – goes a long way in supporting individuals to make healthy changes.
It’s also easier to make healthier choices if the people around you are making healthier choices. Having a walking buddy or an AA sponsor, going to the rec centre, joining the curling club or organizing a parent and tot group all use the power of social connections to support healthy living.