If you think, “It’s okay to eat this because I’ve been good all day and turned down many temptations,” remind yourself that your body has no idea how many things you DIDN’T eat, it only knows what you do eat. Saying ‘no’ before doesn’t automatically mean you can say ‘yes’ right now.
When dieters get off track, they often truly forget how good it feels to be in control of their eating. Therefore, the thought of getting back on track usually feels much more daunting and burdensome than it really is – because once they’re there, they feel so great about it.
If you think, “I just don’t want the burden of thinking about dieting this weekend,” remind yourself: Eating right is a burden, but being overweight is a burden too (physically, psychologically, financially, etc.) EITHER WAY I’M BURDENED, but at least in one way I get to be thinner, healthier, and feel good about myself.
When you make a dieting mistake, it’s helpful to NOT use the word “cheat” because “cheating” can have very negative, sometimes moralistic undertones. If you make a mistake in dieting, it doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a NORMAL person.
Sabotaging Thought: When I’m stressed, I’m entitled to eat to calm down.
Response: Actually, when I’m stressed I’m entitled to calm down but I’m ALSO entitled to lose weight, be healthy, and feel good about myself so that calmness can’t come from food.
Your body processes every bite of food you eat in the same way whether or not it’s your birthday, it’s a holiday, you’re tired, you’re stressed, you’re celebrating, everyone around you is eating it, it’s free, no one is watching, you’re on vacation, you’re at a party, you’re bored, etc. etc. etc.
Some dieters think, “I don’t deserve credit until I reach my weight loss goals.” This is 100% NOT TRUE because all the small steps along the way are what add up to the big changes. If you’re not already, right this moment start giving yourself credit for all the progress you’ve made and all the good things you’re doing.
This is a holiday weekend for many people, which is a time for celebration and joy. Remember – if you eat out of control, you very likely will feel bad about it and taint your good feelings. If you stay in control, you’ll have a BETTER weekend because you won’t spend time or energy feeling bad and guilty about yourself or your eating.
My dieter, Jason, had a major victory this week. He was, for the first time in a long time, able to eat a single slice of pizza and not go on to eat many, many more. In the past, Jason would often order a whole pizza, telling himself, “I’ll only have one or two slices and stop there,” but inevitably he would continue eating until the whole pie was gone.
In session this week, Jason told me about his triumph and then stated that while he was happy he had only eaten one slice, he did wish that he could have gotten that “happy” feeling from eating the whole pizza. I asked Jason to think about the last time he ate a whole pizza and how he felt about it after. Without any hesitation, he immediately replied, “I feel terrible. I feel so mad at myself and guilty.” Jason and I discussed this idea further, and he came to the realization that the thought of eating an entire pizza is actually much better than the reality of doing so because in his (sabotaging) thinking about overeating pizza, he does not accurately recount how he’ll really feel.
Jason and I then talked about how he felt after eating only one slice, and how that was different from eating a whole pizza. Jason realized that, although he did want more, once the pizza was out of his sight he felt really happy and proud that he had only had one slice. He was actually able to have pizza without feeling guilty about it, because he knew that it was on his plan and that it would help him reach his goals.
Jason made the following Response Cards:
Overeating NEVER feels as good as thinking about it does. My sabotaging thoughts try to convince me that I’ll love it and feel really happy if I overeat, but in fact, that’s never the case. When I do this, I end up feeling bad, guilty, and angry with myself.
When I stick to only eating one piece of pizza, I actually enjoy it more because I know that it will help me continue to stick to my diet and reach my weight loss goals.
Although I may think ahead of time that having a whole pizza feels better than only having one slice, that is completely untrue because when I only have one slice, I feel proud and good about myself and I get closer to my goals. Having a whole pizza feels terrible and takes me further and further away from my goals.
It’s not all-or-nothing. It’s not as if I can either have a whole pizza or no pizza at all. I can plan to have one slice of pizza when I want to, and in doing so, I get to enjoy the experience of eating pizza AND enjoy the experience of losing weight.
When dieting, you’ll probably be eating less food than you have been so it’s important for you to see all of it spread out in front of you at meal or snack time. This will help you feel more physically AND psychologically satisfied.
The Beck Diet Program was developed by Dr. Judith S. Beck with Deborah Beck Busis, LCSW.
Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a leading international source for training, therapy, and resources in CBT.
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