I was asked a question this week that I often hear from my dieters: Is it okay to have one “cheat day” per week?
Jen had been doing exceptionally well for months and months, but recently has gone through some hard times in her personal life, and was struggling more with eating.
Often dieters are hesitant to bring their own food or make special requests because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves and feel uncomfortable. We remind dieters that the reality is that never feeling discomfort and losing weight are likely mutually exclusive goals. It’s okay to feel a bit of discomfort when it’s in the service of goals that are hugely important and life changing! It’s not easy but it’s worth it.
Her basic mindset was, “This trip is hard and it’s a struggle.” I wanted her to switch her mindset to, “This is trip is hard and it’s a struggle, but I’m doing really well! I’m triumphing!”
Emily, has recently been having a very hard time dealing with the discomfort of having a craving or feeling hungry. When she gets a craving, or feels hungry, and it’s not time to eat, Emily has a running dialogue in her head that goes something like this: “I hate feeling this way. This sucks. I shouldn’t have to put up with this. If I just eat, this will go away.”
While it’s true that there were some things that had started to really slip (he all but stopped giving himself credit, started eating standing up again, started taking much bigger portions at meals, especially dinner, and stopped counting calories), it wasn’t true that everything was going poorly. In fact, when Mike looked at this list, he realized that a lot of things were still going well – he just wasn’t acknowledging or giving himself credit for them.
Ellie noted that another thought she often has about overeating dessert is, “I just want the freedom of being able to eat what I want and not think about it.”
My client, Megan, has been getting off track in the evening hours. She told me in session this week that she’s generally doing really well during the day, but ends up snacking too much in the hours between dinner and bed. I asked Megan what thought she might be having around that time, and she said, “It’s probably, ‘I need something.’ ” Megan admitted that it wasn’t necessarily that she was hungry in that moment (she knew that if she had already eaten all her calories then her body has had enough food), but it was her mind that was feeling unsatisfied.
Jen hadn’t had ice cream in close to a year because dairy just doesn’t work for her– it causes her stomach aches, inflammation, and swelling in her feet. Jen said that when she got sick, she just wanted to eat the food that was most comforting to her, and that was ice cream.
Lauren told me that she has felt very off track the last few days. She said that controlling her eating has just felt really hard, and she’s not sure it’s worth it. I discussed with Lauren something I know to be true for myself and virtually all my dieters: that the “Is it worth it?” question is just a product of the off-track mentality.
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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