Often dieters say things like, “I had such a hard week.” In many cases, however, it was really only hard for a few hours on a few days, but they tend to let the memory of one or two hard times color their perception of the week as a whole. It’s important to maintain a clear perspective so you don’t get discouraged by circumstances that aren’t an accurate reflection of reality!
Cutting out all desserts never works for the long term because you’ll eventually eat them again and, when you do, go way overboard. Because of this, it’s actually IMPORTANT that you work treats into your diet to prove to yourself that you can eat them in reasonable portions. Desserts are a necessary part of rest-of-your-life eating!
If you eat out this weekend, go in with a plan! And, remind yourself that you don’t need to eat everything on your plate (because eating it won’t bring the money back), and that just because everyone else is having something doesn’t mean you should (because your body doesn’t know or care what anyone else is eating).
In dieting, what we think will make us feel better (like eating when stressed), actually makes us feel worse, and what we think will make us feel worse (like planning our meals in advance), actually makes us feel better!
Sabotaging Thought: “It’s okay to eat [this food] because I don’t know how many calories are in it. It’s probably not that bad, anyway.”
Response: Just because I don’t KNOW how many calories are in it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot! My lack of knowledge doesn’t change the reality of what this food is made of.
Mistakes are an unavoidable part of the learning process. You can’t learn to diet successfully without making mistakes along the way, just as you can’t learn to play tennis without missing a few shots. If you have the unreasonable expectation that you won’t make mistakes, it will only make you feel worse, and make it seem like a much bigger deal, when you inevitably do.
You’re entitled to make mistakes, but you’re not entitled to use one mistake as an excuse to keep making more. No matter how many or how few mistakes you make this week, what matters most is what you do right after. Learning to recover IMMEDIATELY from mistakes is a skill that will help you lose weight and keep it off for good.
If you think, “I’ll wait until Monday to start my diet,” remind yourself that waiting until Monday has NEVER gotten you where you want to be. Instead, break that bad habit and get started RIGHT NOW! By Monday morning you’ll be so glad to already have experienced a few days of healthy eating and feeling better.
The more preplanning you do (which means the fewer decisions you’ll have to make on the fly), the better easier and better your day will be. It is so much easier to make good decisions ahead of time, rather than have to struggle to use willpower in the moment to make healthy choices.
Last week, my dieter, Kim, and I spent time in session coming up with a strong Easter plan. This week, Kim reported that not only was she able to follow through with her Easter plan, but she felt great about it, and she lost weight this week – something that would have been unheard of in years past. What did Kim do that made her Easter so successful?
1. Kim made it a priority to read her plan and Response cards before she left for the day. In session last week, Kim and I had written out a plan for how she would handle Easter. Usually coming up with a mental plan doesn’t work as well because it’s much easier to erase and cross out things in your mind than it is when it is actually written out. Not only did we write down the plan, but Kim made sure to review it in the days leading up to Easter (so it would be etched more firmly in her brain), and right before she left to go to her sister’s house that day. She also read Response Cards about cravings, holidays, and reminding herself how she’ll feel if she stays in control.
2. Kim looked at all of the food being served before deciding what to have. Although Kim had a pretty good idea of what was being served (she had contacted her sister ahead of time and asked what the menu would be), when it came time to eat, Kim made sure to survey all the dishes and decide deliberately what she would have. This way, she didn’t end up eating a full plate and then see something else she really wanted to have, and end up overeating.
3. Kim was also careful about how much food she served herself. Kim and I had discussed how important it would be for her to only put on her plate what she intended to eat. In doing so, she could eat everything that was on her plate and feel satisfied, and not have to question whether or not she was eating too much or whether or not she should go back for more.
5. Kim had no candy and only one portion of dessert. Deciding how much, if any, candy and desserts Kim would have on Easter was a big part of the plan. Kim is a self-proclaimed chocoholic and loves any and all Easter candy and desserts. Kim told me that in Easters past, she would go overboard on sweets and end up snacking on candy all day long. Kim and I decided that, for her, the best course of action would be to have no candy on Easter and one portion of whatever baked good she wanted. We decided on this plan because we knew that if Kim got started snacking on Easter candy, it would make it very easy for her to continue going back for more and more. The baked goods being served (mainly cupcakes) were already portion-controlled, and not as easy to keep dipping into. This way, Kim wouldn’t have to struggle against whether or not to have more candy and instead she could focus on enjoying her cupcake. Because Kim really likes candy, we also decided that she didn’t have to deprive herself of all candy – she just wouldn’t have any on that day because she was eating so many other delicious things. We also planned that post-Easter she would buy her favorite Easter candy (on sale!) and she enjoyed it even more the day after, when she could really appreciate it. When Kim was tempted by the candy on Easter, she was able to tell herself, “I don’t need to have this now, I’m going to have some tomorrow, instead. Besides, I’m having a cupcake today.”
6. Kim made sure to eat everything sitting down, slowly, and mindfully. By doing so, Kim told me that she was able feel very satisfied (even though she was eating less than previous years) because she really took time to savor and enjoy every bite that she ate. She also didn’t feel guilty about what she was eating, which made the food taste better.
7. Kim didn’t take home any leftovers. Kim knew that it might be difficult for her to control herself if she had lots of Easter leftovers lurking in her refrigerator, so she decided that his year she just wouldn’t take any home, thus eliminating the potential struggle altogether. Kim reminded herself that if there was something there she really liked, she could either wait until next year to have it again, OR make it for herself at some point in the near future. It wasn’t as if she either had to have it right then, or she’d never get it again.
To sum up her day, this is what Kim told me: “At the end of the day, I felt great. I didn’t feel deprived about what I didn’t eat, because I did get to enjoy good food, and instead I really did feel proud and happy about staying in control and following my plan. I was surprised that I also didn’t struggle much because I just knew, ‘If it’s not on my plan, I’m not having it.’ It made the day so much better.”
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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