Dieting is not all-or-nothing. It’s not as if your only two options are to eat absolutely no food you really want, or to eat every bite of food you want, every moment you want it. There is SO MUCH middle ground between those two things and successful dieting/healthy eating is about finding a balance that works for you.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it’s important to view weekends as a break from work, NOT a break from healthy eating. Remember – there are plenty of other ways to relax that don’t involve food (and won’t cause you to gain weight!).
When working on dieting and healthy eating, it’s imperative to have enough time and energy to devote to these things. This won’t magically happen (especially if your life is already busy) so you may have to take steps to ensure that it does, like saying “no” more often, scheduling in your diet and exercise activities, and putting your own needs first. You’re entitled to do all of these things!
Sabotaging Thought The scale was down so it’s okay to loosen up today, I can get away with it.
Response: I may be able to get away with eating extra for a short period of time, but guaranteed it will catch up with me at some point and undo my progress. Once I accept the fact that I can’t “get away with things” where dieting is concerned, it will be easier for me to just do what I need to do.
Every day you have a good eating day, you build momentum and make it easier to continue having good eating days. It is so much easier to stay on track then have to get back on track.
Sabotaging Thought: It’s okay to go off my plan this one time; it won’t really matter.
Response: Actually it DOES matter because every time I go off my plan, I make it harder to stick to my plan other times because I open the door to exceptions. Once the door to exceptions is closed, dieting is so much easier!
Whether or not you feel good about your eating from the weekend, it’s over and done. Every day is a new opportunity to have a great eating day and start working towards achieving important goals. Start today, right this minute!
If you work on staying in control of your eating this weekend, not only will you feel good about yourself and your eating, but doing so will also help you reach your weight loss goals. It’s a win/win!
Earlier in the week I had a session with my dieter, Jeremy, during which we talked mostly about cravings. In previous sessions, Jeremy and I had spent time discussing cravings and the fact that they go away one of two ways: either when he decides to give in to them, or when he decides to definitely NOT give in. Through effort and practice, Jeremy had been able to prove to himself:
- He is capable of not giving into cravings
- Cravings go away, and they go away much more quickly when he gets distracted
- He feels so much better and he is so proud of himself after the fact when he has stood firm
However, when Jeremy came in to see me this week, he told me that he has been struggling more with cravings lately and has been having a hard time making them go away completely. I asked Jeremy to describe a situation in which this happened, and he told me that over the weekend, he and his wife held a birthday party for their daughter in which they served chocolate cake – Jeremy’s favorite. Jeremy had planned in advance to have a slice of cake after dinner that night, knowing that he would enjoy it so much more if he ate it then, as opposed to at the party when he was responsible for supervising 18 six-year-olds.
However, once dinner was over that night and he had had his planned cake and stowed the leftovers in the refrigerator, Jeremy started having a craving for more. Jeremy was able to accurately label what he was experiencing as a craving (as opposed to hunger) because he knew he was feeling it in his mouth and not his stomach. In order to combat the craving and distract himself, Jeremy got busy doing things like reading to his daughter, doing household chores, and catching up on one of his favorite television shows. Despite these distractions, Jeremy kept picturing the cake in his mind, beckoning to him from the refrigerator. Jeremy felt frustrated because although the craving for cake would temporarily go away when he was distracted, it kept coming back throughout the rest of the night. While he was ultimately able to stand firm (and asked his wife to bring the cake in to share with her colleagues the next day) he felt unsteady because his cravings never really went away that night.
Jeremy and I discussed this situation in session and I reminded him of times in the past when he has had a craving and has definitively said to himself, “No choice, I’m absolutely not giving in,” and the craving went away completely. Jeremy confirmed that this was true and said he couldn’t figure out why that night with the cake was different. I asked Jeremy to reflect back on what he said to himself each time he had a craving for the cake. Did he definitely say to himself, “No way, I’m not having any,” or was it possible that each time he had a craving, he took a moment to consider the possibility of actually having the cake, and then was able to ultimately make the decision to not give in at that time. Jeremy thought about it and recognized that because the cake was so good, and because it was his favorite, each time he thought about it he probably had a dialogue in his head that went something like, “Maybe I should have a little more cake. Just a little bit won’t hurt, and besides, it’s my daughter’s birthday. No, you’re not supposed to have any more tonight. But it was so good and it’s my favorite so maybe just this one time it’s okay. No, you know that ‘just this one time’ doesn’t work and so you shouldn’t any more tonight. But maybe it really would be okay, and besides, it would taste so good,” etc.
Jeremy and I discussed this further and I pointed out to him how different and how much more indecisive that was from how he used to answer to cravings not that long ago. He realized that the reason the craving probably never went away for good that night was because each time he had it, he gave himself the option of giving in, thus psychologically opening the door to more cravings. Likely if Jeremy had been able to conclusively say NO to himself (like he has in the past), the craving wouldn’t have kept reoccurring because he would have sent himself the message, “no matter what, I’m not having any more.” Jeremy left session armed with the knowledge that he can and does have the power to make cravings go away completely, but that one surefire way of making them continue is to think about giving in each time he has one.
Many of the skills you use to stick to a healthy eating plan are the same ones you would use to stick to an exercise regimen. Sometimes just simply having an actual (written) exercise PLAN can make a big difference – so make one today and get moving!
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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