Our dieter, Rebecca, told us this week that she had given in to an impulse and bought a large slice of chocolate cake that she hadn’t planned for. Because the slice constituted two portions, Rebecca decided to have half of it that afternoon and save the rest for the next day. Once she started eating the cake, Rebecca was struck by two things: the cake didn’t taste nearly as good as she thought it would, and her sabotaging thoughts nevertheless urged her to keep eating. Rebecca ended up finishing the piece of cake and soon felt extremely bad about it.
Rebecca had characterized this experience as a complete failure on her part. We helped her see, though, that the situation wasn’t nearly as bad as she believed and in fact, she deserved credit for many things she did afterwards.
First, Rebecca didn’t continue to eat out of hand for the rest of the day, let alone the rest of the week or month, as she likely would have in the past. Second, Rebecca adjusted her eating for the rest of day by marginally cutting down dinner and skipping her evening sweet snack. Most important, Rebecca learned a lot from the experience. She learned that she doesn’t like eating off her plan because it undermines her confidence and makes her feel weak. She learned that if she’s not enjoying something very much, it’s better to get rid of it immediately than to waste her calories unnecessarily. She also proved to herself that she can get right back on track immediately. Rebecca made herself new Response Cards to prepare her for future times of temptation. All in all, although it wasn’t ideal that she ate off plan, the event was actually an important experience for Rebecca and she deserves a lot of credit for how she handled it.