This week, our dieter Alex walked into his office kitchen to make a cup of coffee and discovered a big plate of homemade holiday cookies one of his coworkers had brought in. Seeing and smelling the cookies set up a craving for Alex and he had the sabotaging thought, “It’s ok to have a cookie because it’s holiday time and everyone is eating them.” Alex had to remind himself that the fact that it’s holiday time is not a reason to eat unplanned cookies, and he’d much rather be thinner. He firmly told himself, “If I hadn’t walked in the kitchen I would never have seen the cookies and would never have wanted them. Just make your coffee as planned and leave the kitchen.” Alex did exactly that, and five minutes later was glad he had resisted.
This is a good strategy for dieters to employ this time of year when they are faced with a multitude of special holiday foods in stores, at the office, at parties—not to mention the gifts of food they may receive. Just as Alex did, it’s useful for dieters to remind themselves that if they hadn’t seen the goodies, they may not even have thought of them or wanted them. This helps diminish their sense of entitlement and if dieters can say to themselves, “I only want [this food] because I’m seeing it right now, but I can move on, as if I’d never seen it,” it will be easier to resist.