Our veteran dieter, Brian, came in for a booster session this fall. He had maintained his sizable weight loss for over a year but had recently gained back 4 pounds. Because he had developed a general plan of what to eat everyday, he was no longer writing down meal plans and so wasn’t sure where the extra weight had come from. We discussed what he had been eating and asked him if he was doing any unplanned snacking. Brian realized that over the past few weeks he had slowly started eating more snacks. The problem was that as he became accustomed to eating more frequently, it began to feel normal to him to eat all throughout the day. After a little while, Brian got into the habit of eating whenever he felt a little bit hungry or just felt like eating. At first he didn’t even realize that he had made this shift because it was a gradual but steady process. He had stopped weighing himself daily, too, and the 4 pound gain came as a surprise.
We discussed with Brian all of the skills he had initially learned that helped him stick to his food plan: telling himself “No Choice,” reminding himself that he would be eating again soon, that hunger is never an emergency, and that he can’t have it both ways – he can’t snack whenever he feels like it and lose weight and keep it off (Days 12 and 16 of The Beck Diet Solution). Since maintaining his weight loss was still a very important goal to Brian, he knew that it was worth it to start practicing all of his skills again, including making food plans.
For a couple of weeks Brian wrote food plans each night and made sure to include a reasonable number of snacks (Day 15 of The Beck Diet Solution Weight Loss Workbook). Because he had practiced it so much in the past, Brian was able to stick to his food plans and cut out the unnecessary snacking he had been doing. Brian reported that since doing this, the 4 pounds have come off easily. But more importantly, not only is Brian back to only eating at planned times, but he has also proven to himself that if he does in the future gain a little bit of weight again, he has all the necessary skills and techniques to get back to his maintenance weight.