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Why today is the day your New Year’s resolution will fail

January 26th is the date we give up on our good intentions, according to research by a leading psychologist and the supermarket Iceland.
By Editorial on Jan 26th, 2018   @freelotteriesuk

Most people make a New Year’s resolution in one form or another, whether that’s to eat healthier, join a gym or save money.

However, the majority of resolution makers will have given up on their good intentions, and will ultimately fail, on January 26th, a day that has been dubbed the ‘Temptation Tipping Point’.

Food Psychologist Dr Christy Fergusson and supermarket Iceland, have released new insight into how and why many people reach their Temptation Tipping Point (TTP) on this particular date, as well as data pinpointing a spike in sales of ‘tempting foods’ including pizza and chocolate around 26th January.

A 'physiological shift'

Dr Christy explains, 'Whenever you try to create new habits – follow a healthier diet, exercise more and reduce stress there is a cocktail of chemical changes happening from the inside out. A physiological shift occurs and this is what can trip people up.'

During the first week in January, you are visualising your new and improved self and by the second week you have normally started trying to achieve your goals, adds Dr Christy.

'During this time, your cell's receptors respond well to changes, and they flood with feel-good chemicals. Keep it up, however and by week three you start to feel a change as your cells begin to try to accept this new information. This creates discomfort and you start to crave comfort.'

A desire for comfort

That initial high you experienced when you first began your health kick has been replaced with boredom, feeling stuck and a desire for comfort. 'This is when familiar unhealthy food can become incredibly tempting,' Dr Christie says.

Data released by Iceland also backs this up, as sales of those oh-so-naughty foods increased sharply during this week in 2017.

Sales of chocolate were up by 24 per cent, pizza 15 per cent, cake 15 per cent, ice cream 14 per cent and alcohol up by 6 per cent.

Moving past the Temptation Tipping Point

If people can move past the Temptation Tipping Point on the 26th January and stick with their resolutions, their cells will adapt and the discomfort will reduce. But how can you retrain your brain to think differently and make it past this point? And what steps can you take to keep yourself on track when your resolve starts to wobble?

  • Pinpoint the habit you want to change then create a clear way you can achieve it and be specific with your plan.
  • When moving out of your comfort zone and trying to retrain your brain into accepting new habits convenience is the route to success. Frozen pre-prepared vegetables are a great way to fast-track healthier cooking and make new habits. Reaching into your freezer to add a handful of frozen peppers or adding some frozen butternut squash to your meals, can make including more vegetables in your diet easy and convenient.
  • Acknowledge the role this old habit is playing in your life and become aware of how your bad habits are making you feel. Sure, picking up a take-away is easy but how do you feel 20 minutes or an hour after eating it? Look for healthier alternatives that are as quick and as satisfying but without the guilt.
  • Move your focus and stop thinking about your cravings; fill your thoughts with new habits.
  • Stop self-sabotaging! Ignore those ‘I can’t…’ thoughts. Tell yourself you absolutely can.
  • Make subtle switches. Drastic changes can be a shock to the system, particularly if you start making portion sizes smaller, whereas a series of small changes can seem more manageable. Switching white rice to cauliflower rice or starchy potatoes to sweet potatoes make meal times easier by thinking ‘what can I eat?’ instead of ‘what can’t I eat?’
  • Essential to making a success of your New Year’s Resolution, is planning clearly how you are going to achieve it. Meal prep is a great way to plan the week ahead and there are many options, such as vegetable mixed quinoa or couscous. This makes you less likely to fall into the TTP trap whilst impulse buying something not-so-healthy.

Iceland has plenty of inspiration with its More Ways to Eat Well recipes, encouraging shoppers to create nutritious and delicious dishes. For more information click here.