At the end of the day, most people forget some (or all) of the food they ate standing up because food eaten standing up just doesn’t seem to register in the mind or body the same way as food eaten while deliberately sitting down. Working on eating every bite sitting down (and slowly and mindfully) is a comfortable way of cutting many calories from your diet because, at the end of the day, you likely won’t miss that food or feel any less satisfied.
Sabotaging Thought: I did lose a little weight this week but I’m disappointed it’s not more.
Response: Real life weight loss has NOTHING to do with shows like the Biggest Loser. In real life, losing between ½ a pound and 2 pounds a week is exactly in the right range. Although I wish I was losing weight more quickly, I have to remember that doing so has never enabled me to keep it off. Every pound lost is a victory and ultimately adds up to major weight loss.
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!”
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it means you’ll have to learn to tolerate feeling hunger and cravings. While they can be uncomfortable, nothing bad will happen as a result of experiencing them. They’re a normal part of life!
Remember, when you say “no” to eating something, you’re also saying “yes” to even better things: losing weight, better health, increased self-confidence, feeling proud of yourself, and more.
If you get off track this weekend, remind yourself, “There’s no such thing as blowing it for the whole weekend because the calories will keep adding up. Get back on track RIGHT NOW and make the rest of the weekend great.”
It’s important to remember that you’re not doing things like working on healthy eating, resisting cravings, and limiting junk food to punish yourself. Rather, you’re doing them so that you can achieve critically important and life-changing goals.
Sabotaging Thought: I need to eat to make this craving go away.
Response: I NEVER need to eat to make a craving go away. Cravings are like itches – the more I focus on them, the worse they get. The moment I start to get distracted is the moment the craving starts to go away.
On track eating days aren’t perfect days! In order to lose weight and keep it off, you don’t need to be perfect because nobody is perfect. What you do need is to accept your mistakes, not beat yourself up, and get right back on track.
We asked one dieter what helps keep her motivated to stay on track and she said, “I remind myself that when I’m off track, I feel TERRIBLE. When I’m on track, I feel great. Staying on track feels hard some of the time, but being off track feels hard ALL of the time, physically and psychologically.”
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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