If You Want It, Plan It!

This week I met with my client, Lauren. Lauren has been doing well the last few months, feeling very focused and in control of her eating. Lauren told me about a breakfast she had with friends the day before in which she made healthy decisions, including forgoing a pancake even though she really wanted one. I asked Lauren the same question I often ask dieters in this type of situation: “Now that the situation/temptation is over, are you sorry you didn’t have the pancake?” Lauren thought about it for a moment and said, “Not exactly. I’m glad I made good decisions, but a pancake really would have been good.”

This was an interesting reply, because 19 out of 20 times I ask clients this (or maybe even more frequently than that!), the answer is a resounding, “No! I’m glad I didn’t give in.” Most times whenStack of pancakes on a plate dieters are faced with eating something that’s not on their plan, it’s a momentary craving. The food looks good. They wish they could eat it, but once they leave the restaurant, or the party, or the snack room at work, they forget about the food entirely. The fact that Lauren was still thinking about the pancake–and wanting one–was worth paying attention to.

I discussed with Lauren that if she really wanted a pancake but repeatedly denied herself one, what she would be doing (purposely or not) was sending herself the message, “You can’t have this food you really want.” In my experience, when dieters’ brains hear that message enough, eventually they will rebel against it. This doesn’t happen when they see a food that looks good and resist it once, moving on with their day, but it absolutely happens when dieters resist a food they want and continue to think about that specific food. If they don’t plan for when they can have it, it usually causes them to feel deprived and increases the likelihood that they will rebel against their plans.

Lauren understood this concept and agreed that having a pancake soon would be important, if only to prove that she’s not depriving herself of pancakes in general. Instead, she will tell herself that she’s simply not having them unless she plans to in advance. Lauren decided that she would have a pancake when she had brunch with her grandchildren over the weekend – and that she would make sure to eat it slowly and mindfully and really enjoy it!

Two Minutes Versus Sixteen Hours

Jen realized that she was sacrificing around 16 hours of feeling good for a maximum of two minutes of enjoying a taste – not a trade she wanted to make!

Changes

Lori told me that two nights ago she had a big work dinner and she was still feeling proud of how well she stuck to her plan. It was at a Mediterranean restaurant, and like all her work dinners, it included a lot of food.

Plan Extra Calories!

Liz realized that a lot of the time she wasn’t planning her extra calories in advance, which ultimately meant she didn’t have as strong a plan for weekends as she did for weekdays.

Premium Experience Eating

When Kate started working on the skill of eating slowly and mindfully, for the first time in a very long time she told me she realized that not all food tasted as good as it looked or tasted as good as she thought it would taste.

Eating Without Information

This week I had a session with my client, Lauren. Lauren told me that while she had a good week, one day she ended up going way over her allotted calories.

Reducing Bread

My client, Jane, told me she was eating too much bread (which was translating into too many calories per day). 

Unexpected Food

Especially during stressful times, unexpected food is an inevitable obstacle. These guidelines will provide structure and advice for making smart eating decisions for any unexpected food in your house.

Losing (and Even Maintaining) is Not Always Reasonable

It’s not always reasonable in every situation to lose weight, or even to maintain weight. If the scale goes up, it doesn’t mean you didn’t do well; it just means it wasn’t reasonable not to gain a little.

Recommitting

If you’ve gotten off track with your New Year’s resolution, this is exactly what you need to do, too! Stop expecting yourself to do everything and instead figure out what feels completely doable this week. Recommit to it, do it (and give yourself so much credit for doing so!), and then add one or more things next week.