If you think, “I won’t be able to enjoy myself at holiday gatherings if I have to limit myself at all,” remind yourself, “It’s not all-or-nothing! There’s a HUGE middle ground between eating everything I want and nothing I want. Besides, if I way overeat and get off track, I’ll wind up tainting the holiday gathering, anyway. No matter what day of the year it is, staying on track feels great.”
A major sabotaging thought we hear during this holidays is, “It’s okay to have this extra food, it’s not that much compared to what I could be eating.” When faced with all the extra food you’re not eating, eating extra really can seem legitimate. Remind yourself that your body doesn’t know or care how much you’re NOT eating, it only knows what you do eat. If you take in more calories than you’ve planned, you’ll gain weight.
Sabotaging Thought: I had such a hard day, I deserve to reward myself with food.
Response: If I reward myself with food and overeat, I’ll end up feeling terrible – physically and mentally, which will be the exact opposite of a reward. If I stay on track and control my eating, I will feel great. Food rewards just don’t work once the food is gone!
If you think, “It’s not fair I can’t eat normally over the holidays,” remind yourself, “Actually, I AM eating normally for someone with my weight loss goals. And while it may be unfair I can’t eat all the food I want, it would be MUCH more unfair if I couldn’t experience the countless benefits of weight loss.”
Whenever a dieter says something like, “I was so good yesterday, I didn’t have any dessert,” we always remind them that having dessert is an important part of lifetime eating. Cutting out all sweets (or other categories of food that you like) never works out long term because you’ll always end up eating them again and when you do, if you don’t know how to control your portions, you’ll gain weight. Your plan for the holiday season doesn’t have to be “no dessert” but it also can’t be, “dessert as much and as often as I want.” If your plan is too restrictive (“no dessert at all”) likely you’ll end up rebelling against it. This week, look for the middle ground.
We talk about this a lot during the holidays -don’t wait to start working on weight loss goals! Don’t wait until January 1st. Don’t even wait until Monday. Start right now. Start TODAY and by Monday you’ll be feeling in better place then you may be feeling now. What is one healthy commitment you’re making for this weekend?
Likely you can think of a time when you gave in and ate something unplanned, and a time when you resisted eating something that you were tempted to. Which felt better?
Remember, once the temptation to eat something unplanned has passed, you won’t regret not having eaten it. Remind yourself, “I won’t regret the food I don’t eat (holiday food, treats at the office), but I definitely will regret the extra, unplanned food I do eat.”
Sabotaging Thought: I don’t want to work on healthy eating right now because I just don’t feel like thinking about it.
Response: Either way I’m going to think about it. When I’m off track, I spend time thinking about needing to get back on track and feeling guilty about my eating. There’s no such thing as ‘not thinking about it.’
Remember, in terms of your eating, you only have to answer to yourself. Don’t let comments or predicted reactions from others influence how you eat. You’re working on healthy eating because it’s an important goal for YOU. You don’t need to explain or answer to anybody else about this!
Many, many people gain weight during the holidays. Even if you maintain your weight during the next month, you should be extremely proud of yourself. Make sure you have goals that are reasonable but don’t let yourself off the hook too much. You want to stay accountable and in control, but you also want to be reasonable and realistic. Maintenance might be that middle ground!
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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