If you’re thinking about going into Thanksgiving without a plan, ask yourself, “When has not having a plan EVER helped me reach my goals?” In our experience, having any type of plan (even if it’s a loose one) is so much better than not having one at all. If you want this year to be different – you have to do things differently!
Important reminder: We can’t change what has happened in the past, only what happens now and in the future. No matter what you ate over the weekend or how off track you may be feeling, that doesn’t mean you have to stay off track! You can change (for the better) what happens now and every day moving forward.
The more you prepare in advance, the less stress you’ll have during holidays. This weekend, think about what you can do in advance to get ready for Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it). If not – think about what you can do to prepare for the upcoming week. Then, use the time you’ll free up for de-stressing and self-care activities, like exercise or meditation.
If you have a hard day and then eat in response to it, the only thing you’ll do is make your day harder because you’ll then feel badly and guilty about it. And, you'll likely make the next day harder, too, because once you get off track, it’s more difficult to get back to and stay on plan.
Sabotaging Thought: I’m worried I won’t be able to control my weight during the upcoming holiday season.
Response: While it is certainly harder to stay in control during the holidays, it’s by no means impossible. I am ultimately in charge of every bite of food I put in my mouth, which means I am ultimately in charge of whether I gain weight, lose weight, or stay the same.
People usually start dieting when they're highly motivated and so sticking to their plans is fairly easy. However, this initial motivation (which we call the “Honeymoon Stage”) always wears off and then dieting gets harder. This is 100% normal, it happens to everyone, and as long as you keep doing what you’re doing, dieting WILL get easier again.
Even though the prospect of continuing to work on healthy eating during times of stress may seem daunting, many dieters find that when they feel in control of their eating, it helps them feel more in control in general. So what they think might make them feel more stressed actually does the exact opposite.
This weekend, remember that it’s not all-or-nothing. It’s not as if you can eat every bite of food you want, whenever you want it, or you can’t ever eat anything you want. There is a huge middle ground between these two extremes, and working on finding it allows you to enjoy reasonable amounts of food AND enjoy all the benefits of weight loss.
It’s not enough to read these Daily Diet Solutions once and expect them to make a big difference. What will make a difference is if you copy the ones that resonate with you onto Response Cards and read them every day. The more you read them, the more the ideas will get into your brain!
This week, I had a session with my dieter, Emily. Emily told me that she and her sister are planning a trip home this weekend to celebrate their mother’s birthday, and that she thought it would be hard in a number of ways: Emily would be off of her usual routine, she would be spending a long time in the car, she would have fewer occasions to exercise, and she would not be in control of her food. Beyond these practical matters, Emily also told me that saying in control of her eating might be difficult because she would be experiencing more stress, which puts her in danger of engaging in emotional eating. Although Emily loves her family, she also finds that being around them for an extended period of time can be stressful (in part because they often comment about what she does and doesn’t eat).
In session, Emily and I spent most of the time coming up with strategies for both her practical and psychological concerns. Emily knew that one the most helpful things she can do for herself is to make a general plan for her eating and exercise over the weekend. Emily decided that she would plan ahead and bring meals and healthy snacks in the car so that she wouldn’t have to worry about finding healthy choices on the road or being tempted by unhealthy food. Emily also decided that she would make it priority to take at least a 20 minute walk each day that she at home, which would have the dual benefit of getting in some exercise and also being a stress-reliever.
Emily and I also discussed what sabotaging thoughts that might come up this weekend. Emily said that her family often watches what she eats and makes comments, and although they are usually well-meaning, they cause Emily stress. I pointed out to Emily that because she is now an adult, she doesn’t have to worry about “rebelling” against family by sneaking food or worry about what they will say about her eating because the only person she has to answer to is herself. Emily I discussed this idea further and she made the following Response Card:
Emily and I also discussed the emotional eating aspects that might come into play this weekend and what strategies she can use if she’s feeling negative emotions, like taking a walk outside, working on deep breathing and relaxtion, or calling a friend. We also discussed the fact that going home is more of an emotional experience for her, and therefore it’s normal that Emily would feel that way. Just because she’s feeling stressed doesn’t mean anything is wrong, and just because she’s feeling stressed doesn’t mean she has to do anything about it. It will go away on its own, as it always does. Emily made the following Response Card:
Emily and I also discussed the fact that she should go into the weekend knowing and expecting that it will be more difficult to maintain control over her eating; this way she won’t be surprised when it happens. As long as Emily knows this ahead of time and fortifies herself, when the difficulty hits, she will be ready and prepared.
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.
One Belmont Avenue, Suite 700
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1610