In Session with Debbie: Planning for Travel, Part 2

Last week I had a session with Edie, who was leaving the next day to go on vacation with her husband for a week.  We spent most of our time formulating a strong vacation plan so that she would be feel comfortable and confident on the trip. 

One of the main challenges Edie faced was that all of her meals would be served in the restaurant of the mountain lodge where they would be staying.  Edie knew ahead of time that breakfast would be a buffet, and lunch and dinner would be menu service.  Edie also told me that her main goal for this trip would be to maintain her weight, and so we talked about what she would need to do to make that happen.

Edie and I first discussed breakfast buffet strategies, and decided that she would:

1. On the first day, look at all of the options before deliberately deciding what to have that morning.

2. Remind herself that she didn’t need to eat everything she wanted all at once because she would have many other opportunities to do so.  If, for example, she wanted an omelet, oatmeal, and yogurt with granola, she could have one option each day. She didn’t need to have all three in one day.

3. Make sure to eat every bite sitting down, slowly, and mindfully, instead of snacking while she was going through the buffet line.

4. Not put more on her plate than she was planning to eat.

Then Edie and I talked about how she would handle lunch and dinner each day, and came up with following strategies:

1. It’s important for Edie to remember that almost every restaurant meal is too big and contains too many calories, and if she wants to maintain her weight on this trip, she probably can’t ever finish everything that is served to her. She’ll likely need to leave food behind during every single lunch and dinner, and so it’s necessary for her to go in with the expectation that she just won’t clean her plate. 

2. Edit decided that she would do her best to make healthy food decisions and, whenever possible, order food that she knew she would find satisfying and filling, even if it wasn’t what she most felt like eating at that time.

3. Edie and I also discussed that she shouldn’t be afraid to ask for special requests, such as sauces on the side or vegetables steamed without oil. I reminded Edie that one of her major reasons to lose weight had to do with her health, and it was perfectly legitimate to ask for what she needed to ensure her good health.

Edie also decided that she would bring some healthy snacks with her so that she wouldn’t have to rely on less healthy options, and that she would make sure to take advantage of available activity/exercise options, like going snow shoeing and light hiking.

Edie came back to see me this week and reported that not only did she have a great time on her trip, she also didn’t gain a pound. Edie told me that one of the things that most helped her was going in with the expectation that she wouldn’t clear her plate at lunch and dinner, which made leaving food behind so much easier.  Edie and I also discussed the fact that she felt great about her eating both during the trip and after, especially when she didn’t have to struggle to get back on track once the trip was over. I asked Edie if it was worth it to her to continue working on healthy eating during future trips, and she told me, “Absolutely, 100% YES!”

The Year In Review

Over the past year on the Beck Diet Solution Blog, we’ve written about many topics dealing with everything related to dieting/healthy eating, losing weight, and keeping weight off.  In case you missed any of them, or if you’re dealing with some issue in particular and want a quick reference of articles to read on that topic, we’ve broken down some of the posts we’ve written from the past year into separate categories.

In Session with Deborah: Do Cravings Really Go Away?
Ask the Diet Program Coordinator: Sugar Cravings
A Peek Inside a Diet Session: Cravings

Getting Back on Track
In Session with Deborah: Green Days
Ask the Diet Program Coordinator: Getting Back on Track Today
Ask the Diet Program Coordinator: Getting Back on Track

Dealing with treats
Ask the Diet Program Coordinator: Office Treats
In Session with Deborah: I Deserve a Treat
In Session with Deborah: Tempting Treats

Response Cards
In Session with Deborah: Reviewing Response Cards
How to Write Response Cards

Getting through Hard Times
5 Strategies to Get Through Hard Times
Ask the Diet Program Coordinator

Eating Out
In Session with Deborah: The French Fry Plan
In Session with Deborah: The Hangover Effect

In Session with Deborah: Regaining Focus
Ask the Diet Program Coordinator: Staying Motivated

Making a plan
Components of a Thanksgiving Plan
In Session with Deborah: Making a Food Plan
In Session with Deborah: Birthday Plan

Going on Vacation
In Session with Deborah: Vacation Goals
A Peek Inside a Diet Session: Going on Vacation

If you have any questions or topics you’d like to see covered on our blog, please email us:  Stay tuned for more in 2013!

In Session with Deborah: The French Fry Plan

This week I had a session with my dieter, Sarah.  Although in recent weeks Sarah has been doing well with her dieting skills, she told me that one food in particular keeps tripping her up: french fries.  Sarah has two young children and she and her family often go out to eat. Sarah told me that she usually goes into meals with the plan of not having any french fries, but more often than not ends up eating some off of her kids’ plates.  Sarah told me that most children’s meals in restaurants come with french fries, and since her kids never finish what’s on their plates, the fries call out to Sarah until she eventually gives in and eats some.

When Sarah came to see me she was feeling distressed because, although she knew continually overeating fries was a problem, she didn’t know how to control herself around them.  The first thing I discussed with Sarah is that she needs a French Fry Plan – she needs to plan in advance whether or not she’s going to have fries each time she eats out.  I reminded Sarah that since she really likes fries, it’s not reasonable to expect that she’ll never eat any.  The goal isn’t to never eat fries; rather it’s to plan in advance when she’s going to have them and when she’s not so she’s able to stay in control. This way, she doesn’t have to sit through meals looking at fries and struggling about whether or not to give in and have some, because the decision will already be made.

I also discussed with Sarah that during the meals when she plans to have fries, it’s crucial to order her own fries separately. Even if the meal she orders doesn’t come with fries and her kids’ meals do, she still needs to get her own side order. The reason for this is so that Sarah can start sending herself the message that it’s never okay to eat fries off her kids’ plates. If she’s going to eat fries, it means that she eats her own fries.  This is important because if Sarah some of the time allows herself to eat her kids’ fries (and there leaves the possibility of doing so open), then they will continue to call out to her, even during meals when she’s planned to not have any.  If Sarah has the rule, “I never eat fries off my kids’ plates,” then it will be much easier to resist every time they eat out because she won’t have to even consider (and therefore struggle about) whether or not to have some of theirs.  Sarah and I discussed the fact that, while this may end up costing her a few extra dollars, it’s 100% worth it because it will drastically reduce her french fry struggle (not to mention helping Sarah reach her enormously important weight loss goals).

I then asked Sarah what sabotaging thoughts she is likely to have during the meals when she hasn’t planned to have fries but is tempted to do so. Sarah said that some of the thoughts she may have are, “I’ll just have one. One won’t matter,” and “I really like fries and I just want to eat them.”

In response to these sabotaging thoughts, Sarah made the following Response Cards:

French Fry 1RC french fries 2

By the end of session, Sarah had a very clear plan of how to deal with her french fry troubles.  Here are the steps of her plan:

1.  Always plan in advance whether or not to eat fries at any given meal.

2. When I am going to have fries, make sure to order my own.

3. Remember – the fries on my kids’ plates are completely off limits. I just never eat them.

4. Read my French Fry Response Cards before meals when I haven’t planned to have fries.

5. Enjoy meals out even more because I’ll no longer be struggling about whether or not to eat the fries on my kids’ plates.

In Session with Deborah: Birthday Plan

Earlier this week I had a session with my dieter, Amy, whose birthday is coming up this weekend.  Amy and I discussed her plans for her birthday — she explained that she and her husband will host a dinner party at their house for a few close friends and family.  Amy told me that she was feeling somewhat anxious about this because, in the past, she has used her birthday as an excuse to overeat. She’s told herself things like, “Since it’s my birthday, it’s okay to eat whatever I want,” and, “I’ll have a bad birthday if I don’t eat everything I want,” which often led her to overeat on her birthday AND to continue to overeat  for days, even weeks, later.  Amy and I first discussed what we thought her mindset should be going into her birthday.  We had the following conversation:

Debbie: Let’s talk about your birthday last year, if that’s okay with you.

Amy: Sure.

Debbie: Okay, so what happened last year? Did you end up feeling good about your eating? 

Amy: Oh no.  I remember I was out to dinner with my husband and I was definitely thinking something like, “It’s my birthday, so I should order whatever I want,” and, “I won’t be able to have any fun at dinner or on my birthday if I restrict myself.”  I ended up eating way too much at dinner.  Then my husband had the waiter bring over a slice of carrot cake, my favorite dessert, with a candle in it—and I ended up eating all of that, too. By the time I got home, I was feeling out of control and ate lots more from the kitchen, even though I was really full by then and already feeling badly. 

Debbie: And so was your thought true? Did you end up having fun because you didn’t restrict your eating at all?

Amy: No, it was just the opposite. I ended up feeling physically sick, and I was so mad at myself for my eating. It wasn’t a good night.  I also ended up staying off track for at least a week afterward, which made the whole thing even worse.  It’s definitely my destructive pattern.

Debbie: So in terms of this year, what do you think now about the thought, “I won’t have any fun on my birthday unless I eat everything I want?”

Amy: Well, I guess I’ve proven to myself that that’s just not true.  When I ate that way last year, it made me not have any fun at all because I felt sick and guilty. I want this year to be different.

Debbie: So what do you think you could do to make this year different?

Amy: Well, first of all, I want to stay in control of my eating. I guess I should make a plan for what I’m going to eat, and remind myself that I’ll feel better if I follow it, even though it’s my birthday.

Debbie: I think that’s a great idea.  It’s so important to remind yourself that even though it’s your birthday, it’s not worth eating out of control because doing so will still ruin your night by making you feel sick and guilty. The same things that make you feel badly on a normal day, like overeating, will still make you feel badly on your birthday.  And, the same things that make you feel great on a normal day, like having a plan and staying in control, will still make you feel great on your birthday. In fact, it will probably help you to have an even better birthday night, too, and better days following your birthday.

Amy: You’re right. I want this year to be different and I want to go to bed that night feeling good about my eating, not regretting what I’ve eaten.

With this mindset in place, Amy and I began to construct her birthday eating plan.  We discussed the fact that it’s perfectly reasonable for Amy to eat some extra food on her birthday, as long as she does so in a planned manner.  Eating a little extra in a planned manner will enable Amy to retain a sense of control over her eating, which will mean that she’ll actually get to enjoy what she’s eating.  As Amy has proven to herself in the past, the moment she starts to feel like she’s out of control is the moment she stops really enjoying what she’s eating. 

Amy’s birthday plan looked like this:

Drink between 0-2 glasses of wine

One piece of bread

One serving of the main course and starch, and two servings of vegetables

Reasonable portion of two desserts (birthday cake and something else)

Amy also made the following Response Cards to read on the morning of her birthday and again right before dinner:











Armed with a plan and Response Cards, Amy told me that she felt much more confident going in to her birthday this year than she ever has in previous years.  She felt determined to avoid repeating mistakes from her past and to set a new precedent on her birthday so that she can go to bed feeling happy this year and for years to come.

In Session with Deborah: Memorial Day Weekend

This week I had a session with my dieter, Amy.  Amy told me that while she is excited for the long weekend, she’s also nervous because she has a lot of events over the weekend and she’s worried about how she will handle her eating.

The first thing I did was reassure Amy that she had nothing to do be nervous about. I reminded her that if she makes a mistake over the weekend, it’s not the end of the world, and she has already become adept at the skill of making a mistake and getting herself right back on track.  In the event that she did get off track, I asked Amy to tell me exactly what she would do.  She replied that she would:

1. Label it a “mistake” and not castrophize.

2. Read her Advantages List and some Response Cards and remind herself that she will feel so much better if she gets right back on track that minute.

3. Think about other times when she’s made mistakes and how proud and great she felt when she got right back on track.

4. Think about what sabotaging thoughts led her astray and what responses might be helpful in the future.

5. Resume normal eating for the rest of the day and give herself lots and lots of credit.

Amy and I then discussed what events she had this weekend so that we could come up with a plan.  Amy reported that she is going to the beach Friday through Monday morning and will likely eat out for dinner all three nights, and then she will be attending a barbeque on Monday afternoon.

Amy and I first tackled how she will handle eating out three nights in a row while she’s at the beach. As a lover of bread, wine, and dessert, I reminded Amy that she probably couldn’t have all three at all three meals.  Amy and I talked this over and we realized that it is unhelpful to think of each meal out as a separate event, because if she did, then she might feel deprived not having bread, wine, or dessert at any of one of them.  Instead, we decided to conceptualize the three meals as one package deal, and figure out during which of the three Amy would have these treats.  In doing so, Amy is much less likely to feel deprived at any one meal because she can say to herself, “I don’t need to have bread tonight, I’m going to have it tomorrow. And besides, tonight I’m having wine.” 

Next, Amy and I talked about her strategy for the barbeque.  We came up with the following guidelines:

  • Look at all the food before deciding what to have.
  • No nibbling and no eating standing up! Make a plate of food and deliberately sit down to eat it so I can see how much I’m having and be visually and physically satisfied.
  • If we’re there for a long time, have a snack if I’m hungry but make sure to sit down and eat it mindfully.
  • No dessert at the barbeque – if I really want something, I can bring it home and have it after dinner.
  • No more than two drinks.  Remember, I’ve already had a big weekend and I don’t need more alcohol.
  • Spend time talking to people. I’m there for the social aspect, not for the food!
  • Bring and read the following Response Cards:












Armed with these plans and strategies, and a renewed confidence in her ability to handle mistakes in the event that she makes any, Amy reported that she was feeling a lot less nervous and a lot more excited about the weekend to come.  I reminded Amy that she has the ability to handle any eating event, especially when she has a strong plan and a firm belief in why it’s worth it to her to follow it.

What Worked this Thanksgiving

We have met with and talked to many dieters since Thanksgiving, and we asked each of them, “What worked for you this Thanksgiving?” This is a very important question for all dieters to ask themselves, and especially for those who had very successful Thanksgivings. The reason for this is simple: Thanksgiving happens every year and likely what worked well this year could bring similar success in years to follow, so it is worth it to take a few moments to develop a strong plan that dieters can replicate in years to come.

We also encourage all of our dieters to actually write down what worked for them this year because although it is very fresh in their minds right now, a lot will happen over the course of a year which can drastically erode their memories.

One dieter, Karen from California, wrote in to us and told us specifically what led to her Thanksgiving success. Because she employed so many wonderful techniques, we have decided to share it on the blog so that others can benefit from her ideas, as well. Here is what Karen had to say:

1. I acknowledged to myself that a holiday is NOT “just ONE meal” –it is potentially a week off track, followed by “food guilt” if I follow my old ways of eating.

2. I started listening to The Beck Diet Solution audiobook on Sunday before Thanksgiving to mentally prepare.

3. We decided to let someone else do the cooking (a restaurant in our case) which created MANY benefits, including: a) I bought only our regular, healthy food at the store b) we didn’t have lots of leftover, potentially high calorie, food in the house c) I was not stressed, so there was no temptation to “stress eat” Wednesday night either.

4. Because I wasn’t cooking, our family took a long walk before getting ready to go out Thursday.

5. I kept my pretty, little notepad in my purse to write down what I ate (my phone and iPad are not discreet enough and take too long to enter info).

6. We were eating at a buffet, so we walked past all the food before choosing. I knew I would not eat anything unless it was truly irresistible in flavor (“undressed” veggies being the exception).

7. Because I like stuffing/dressing, I opted not to have bread/rolls.

8. Because it was a buffet, I didn’t worry about “wasting food”, so I had one or two bites of THREE desserts! With many sips of excellent coffee in between.

9. We purposely took a long time, making our one and only plate last as long as possible. The turkey was the star, veggies made up 1/3 of the plate, but the bite of stuffing with each bite of other food was the treat.

10. I limited alcohol to 5 oz of champagne, which I took a long time to drink (normally I would choose wine OR dessert, but I had both!)

11. We went for a long walk at the park (in our fancy clothes) after we finished since there was no clean-up to do.

12. That evening our son was hungry, so I fixed him supper, but I asked myself if I was hungry and the true answer was no, so I didn’t end up eating again, I just had two cups of tea.

13. Because we had no leftovers or unusual cookies/cakes/pies in the house, we went back to eating the food we regularly enjoy for the rest of the weekend.

14. I estimate I ate about 1500 calories total that day (I was prepared to have 1800, but my bigger concern was preventing over eating all the OTHER days before and after T-day–that is what normally starts the bad holiday cycle, not just the actual Thanksgiving meal). Who knew eating out would actually help me stay on track!

Karen also had the fantastic idea to attach her list to her electronic calendar for next year, so in the week before Thanksgiving, she would automatically be prompted to remember not only what she did last year, but HOW GREAT IT FELT when she did it!

Isn’t it worth taking just a few minutes to write down a similar list with all of the things you did well this year (or all of the things you would like to do differently next year) if it means you get to stay in control of your eating, feel good about yourself, AND lose weight and keep it off?

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Sometimes the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind,” can be extremely useful for dieters to keep in mind. Take the dieter who walks into the break room at work to get a cup of coffee and suddenly sees a box of donuts on the table. She might immediately think, “Those look so good, I really want to have one.” Let’s say the dieter resists and then goes back to her desk with her coffee. She might then spend the next few minutes or hours thinking, “I really want one of those donuts,” or “it’s not fair that I can’t have a donut,” and mentally struggling with whether or not to go back for one. The interesting thing about this (extremely common) scenario is that if the dieter had never walked into the break room and seen the donuts, she probably would never have wanted one in the first place and she definitely wouldn’t have had to think about whether or not to have one for the next few hours. In situations like this we remind dieters that they are not really being deprived of a donut because if they had not seen them, the possibility would never have existed.

Jamie had a situation similar to this over the weekend when she attended a friend’s wedding. Jamie told me she went into the wedding with the plan of having one or two glasses of wine, only raw vegetables during cocktail hour, eating about half of her entrée, and having a small piece of cake for dessert. This was her plan because she knew that the food would be rich and even taking in that amount would be more than she would normally eat. Jamie stuck to her plan during cocktail hour and dinner and then got busy dancing and talking to her friends. Jamie was having a great time and at some point someone mentioned to her that the desserts were out but were in separate room. Jamie realized at that moment that she hadn’t even remembered her plan to have a small piece of cake because she hadn’t seen the desserts and therefore hadn’t thought about it (which she found surprising as she loves wedding cake).

At that point Jamie had to decide whether or not to actually go into the dessert room to seek it out. Jamie thought about it and realized that because the wedding cake wasn’t prominently displayed, her natural association between weddings and cake broke, which proved to Jamie that part of the reason she always had wedding cake was because she saw everyone else eating it. Jamie also thought about the fact that if she did go into the dessert room, likely she would be confronted with a lot more desserts that she would be able to eat and might end up feeling deprived. Because at that moment Jamie wasn’t feeling deprived since she wasn’t looking at all the desserts she wasn’t eating, and because she was also feeling good about what she had eaten, Jamie decided to forgo the dessert room and continue having fun.

Jamie and I discussed this situation in session and how powerful “out of sight, out of mind,” can be because by not seeing the desserts, it was easy for her not to have any. Jamie anticipated my first question and told me that looking back now, she was definitely not sorry she didn’t have any cake and instead felt proud of herself for how well she did at the wedding. Jamie and I discussed what she can learn from this situation and I helped her write a new Response Card so that she could remember this experience. Jamie’s card said, “If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have wanted it anyway. Just pretend it doesn’t exist and move on – I’ll be so happy later if I do.”

Angry Eating

When Jamie came in my office this week, she reported feeling disappointed.  Jamie thought she had kicked her emotional eating habits because, through lots of practice, she became adept at not eating when she was feeling sad or stressed.  This was something that Jamie had struggled with a lot at first because initially she thought she would not be able to handle feeling sad or stressed without turning to food.  Through our work together, Jamie learned that negative emotions are not going to kill her and she can do other things to comfort herself which will not have the end result of jeopardizing her diet and ultimately making her feel worse.  Jamie always gave herself a lot of credit for being able to handle these negative emotions without turning to food by using a multitude of other distracting techniques, like calling her sister or a friend, going for a walk, taking a shower, painting her nails, or listening to relaxing music. 

Yesterday evening, however, Jamie was out with a friend for dinner and midway through she got a phone call from her mother who made her angry and they ended up getting into a fight.  Jamie hung up the phone, still feeling mad.  Even though she’d almost finished the amount of food she had carefully portioned off from her plate that she would eat at dinner (and was planning to bring the rest home for lunch the next day), Jamie told me that she then proceeded to eat almost everything that was left on her plate, seemingly without noticing what she was doing.  It wasn’t until Jamie looked down at her near-empty plate that she realized she had just engaged in emotional eating, but this time it was in response to anger, not sadness or stress and felt discouraged.  I asked Jamie what she did after she realized this and Jamie reported that she left the restaurant, took a walk with her friend, and then called her mother to work the situation out.  I then asked Jamie if she had proceeded to order dessert at the restaurant or had gone home and eaten whatever was in her house.  In an almost puzzled fashion, Jamie answered, “of course not.”  I recognized what was going on here –Jamie was only focusing on the one mistake she had made that night and was not seeing all the multitude of great things she had done immediately after. 

I asked Jamie what she might have done a few years ago when she felt angry or worked up like that and she reported that she probably would have gone on to eat a lot more food to soothe herself.  I also asked Jamie what she would have done  in a situation in which she made an eating mistake and Jamie acknowledged that she probably would have gone on to eat a lot more the rest of the night, thinking she had blown it.  Jamie and I discussed how very differently she handled this situation and all of the important things that she deserved credit for.  Jamie was able to see that she deserved credit for:

  1. Once she realized she had eaten more than she planned, she did not catastrophize and continue to eat out of hand the rest of the night
  2. After dinner she took a walk to calm herself down instead of turning to more food
  3. She got problem-solving oriented and called her mom to work out the problem
  4. She was able to identify what was going on – that she was eating because she was angry – and respond to sabotaging thoughts that were urging her to keep eating
  5. She was ready to learn from the situation and would be more aware of all forms of emotional eating in the future

I pointed out to Jamie what I point out to all of my dieters: that ALL dieters and maintainers make mistakes, they are just able to recover from them right away.  Jamie and I discussed the fact that, without even realizing it, this is exactly what Jamie did because as soon as she realized she had eaten more than she planned, she put the brakes on eating right away.  We also talked about the fact that instead of feeling good about this situation and how she had proved to herself that she can recover right away, Jamie was actually making herself feel worse by only focusing on the one thing she did wrong, instead of the 20 positive things she did right after.  Jamie and I decided that as part of her homework this week, she would start focusing more on giving herself credit for all the positive things she did, both big and small.

Ice Cream and Regrets

Jamie came into session today and reported that she had a significant experience over the weekend at an ice cream parlor.  She explained to me that she had planned in advance to go and have a small size ice cream so that she could still have a drink with dinner.  However, when Jamie and her friend were waiting in line at the ice cream counter, they discussed what they were going to have and her friend said he was going to have a medium-sized cup. Immediately Jamie’s sabotaging thoughts started kicking in – “If he’s having a medium, then so can I; It’s not fair that I should have to get a smaller size; I’ll enjoy it more if I get the bigger size; I know I planned to have a small but it won’t really matter if I get a medium” and so on and so on. 

Jamie reported that she did not at that moment take the time to identify what thoughts she was having and come up with responses to them, and so she ended up ordering a medium despite her initial plan to get a small. I asked Jamie how she felt after finishing her ice cream and she said that she felt bad about herself and guilty because she went off plan.  Jamie also believes she would have actually been happier ordering the smaller size because then she would have been able to enjoy each bite knowing she had planned for it, instead of feeling guilty about the extra ice cream she was consuming.  And because Jamie continued to feel bad about the situation and let her sabotaging thoughts go unchecked, she also ended up eating more at dinner than she had planned.

Jamie and I discussed this situation in depth during her session to see what we could learn from it.  First I asked Jamie if she had done any preparing before she went out for ice cream, such as reading her Advantages List or Response Cards which would remind her how and why to not give in to cravings.  Jamie told me that she thought about the ideas but didn’t actually read the cards, assuming the messages were well-enough engrained.  I explained to Jamie we’ve found this to be true for the majority of the dieters we work with – that just thinking about the response cards is not good enough; something about actually reading them seems to enter the brain in a different and more substantial way. 

Jamie and I also discussed the paradox that she thought she would be happier with the larger size, and then ended up enjoying it less because she felt guilty about going off her plan.  I reminded Jamie of her previous experience with the french fries and how good it felt to eat a smaller, planned portion, and how much she enjoyed each one.  I asked Jamie if she regretted not eating more fries on that day and Jamie realized that while she did not regret not eating more fries, she did regret eating more ice cream.

Lastly, Jamie and talked about how this one experience of giving in to sabotaging thinking led her then to give in to more sabotaging thoughts later in the day.  I reminded Jamie that this experience wasn’t only significant because she took in extra ice cream calories, it was also important because this one time of giving in led her to give in again later that day.  Jamie agreed, saying that if she had stuck with the small ice cream, she thinks it would have been easier for her to stay on plan the rest of the day because she would be feeling good about herself and her eating and would already have experiences from that day of not giving in.

I asked Jamie to think about what she would away from this discussion and she listed:

1. It’s important to actually READ her Advantages List and Response Cards before going into a challenging situation

2. Make a new Response Card reminding her that when she sticks to her planned portion of food, she feels much better about it, is able to enjoy it more, and absolutely does not regret not eating more

3. Remember that every time does matter, and going off her plan earlier in the day strengthened her giving-in muscle and triggered her to eat off track later in the day.

I ended by giving Jamie a whole lot of credit for not allowing herself to continue eating out of hand the next day and for getting back on track.  I reminded her that even experiences where she doesn’t do as well are extremely important because we can learn as much from them (and sometimes more) as from successful ones.

What Type of Eater Are You?

The Emotional Eater is one who eats when she feels strong emotions – either negative or positive.  When she feels upset she may think, “I deserve to eat now because I’m very upset,” or “The only way I can calm down is to eat.”   Through these sabotaging thoughts and others, the emotional eater convinces herself that it is okay to eat when she is feeling heightened emotions and that eating is a reasonable way to calm down and feel comforted.  In reality, people do deserve to calm down and receive comfort when they are upset, but they do not need to do this by turning to food, because that will likely just make them feel worse in the end. 

Tips for ending emotional eating:

  1. Emotional eaters need a list of distracting activities that they can immediately start doing when they feel aroused emotionally, which will help them calm down without turning to food.
  2. Emotional eaters should remind themselves that people who have never had a weight problem don’t eat when they are upset. Instead they usually they try to solve the problem, answer back their negative thinking, take deep breaths, go for a walk, call a friend, or get back to a task.
  3. Even if it is a scheduled time to eat or drink, if someone is upset, it is best that she wait until she has calmed down to eat so that she proves to herself that she is able to calm down without eating.

The Deprived Eater is one who tries to eat as little as possible and often attempts to eliminate all foods that he considers “bad.”  The deprived eater may think, “It’s important that I eat as little as possible and never touch sweets or carbs so that I can lose weight as quickly as possible.”  Through these sabotaging thoughts and others, the deprived eater enters a cycle of deprivation and overeating, because eating too little leads his body to eventually rebel and then he goes on to consume way too many calories. In reality, it is important for the deprived eater to eat in a healthy and scheduled way, and not try to cut anything out of his diet permanently, so that he will be able to find a system of eating that works for him that he will be able to keep up for the long term.

Tips for ending the Deprivation/Binge Cycle:

  1. Deprived eaters need to get rid of the idea, “ I should eat as little as I can,” by reminding themselves that eating like that in the past has only caused them to eventually overeat and gain back any weight they may have lost during their period of deprivation.
  2. Deprived eaters need not to eliminate any food from their diet now that they would eventually like to start eating again. Instead, they should learn how to work their favorite foods into a healthy lifestyle from the beginning. Otherwise, they are likely to gain weight back when they try to reintroduce these foods.
  3. Deprived eaters need to treat most days the same and not deprive themselves some days and overeat on other days, so that they can build up their skills and abilities to maintain healthy eating no matter what day it is.

The Stressed Eater is one who does not feel entitled to take the time to sit down and enjoy her meals and instead will often grab something while sitting at the computer or doing other tasks.  The stressed and distracted eater often will end up eating much more than she had planned to later on because she will not notice how much she is eating and will  then feel unsatisfied.   Stressed eaters need to build up their sense of entitlement to take care of themselves and maintain a healthy lifestyle by taking the time to prepare meals and enjoy eating them.

Tips for ending distracted and stressed eating:

  1. Stressed eaters might need to initially do some problem-solving to figure out when and how they will take the time to get and prepare healthy foods and sit down to enjoy them, distraction-free.
  2. Stressed eaters especially need to make sure that they are noticing every bite of what they are eating it and enjoy it, so that they feel satisfied and do not end up overeating later.
  3. Stressed eaters need to remind themselves that they are entitled to take time for themselves and develop a healthy lifestyle, and they will function better once they start doing this on a regular basis.

The Social Eater often will overeat in the presence of family or friends, telling themselves a number of sabotaging thoughts, including “it’s okay to eat this because…everyone else is doing it/it’s a special occasion/I’ll stand out if I don’t eat it/I don’t want to have to eat differently from other people.”  Social eaters need to remind themselves that they can’t have it both ways: they can’t eat everything they want, when they want, and also lose weight and keep it off.  Social eaters have to work toward accepting the fact that they may not be able to eat the same foods or the same portions of food as everyone around them, but they will be able to feel great about being able to lose weight and keep it off.

Tips for ending social eating:

  1. Social Eaters can often eat what people around them are eating, but in smaller quantities.  However, they may be better off eating larger portions of more healthful foods so that they feel more satisfied.
  2. Social Eaters need to remind themselves that just because everyone around them is eating something does not mean it’s okay for them to eat it, because calories other people take in has nothing to do with calories they take in.
  3. Social eaters should remind themselves that while they may be giving up eating as much as everyone around them is eating, they will also get to lose weight and feel good about themselves, which is more important than any momentary pleasure from food.

So we ask:  What type of eater are you?