Do you have a plan for Halloween?? Remember, it’s reasonable to eat some candy, just not all the candy. Having a plan and working in a reasonable amount will allow you to enjoy it without guilt. The best of both worlds!
When dieting feels hard, it’s important to remind yourself that it hasn’t always been this hard (it’s helpful to think about specific examples of when it felt easier and you were feeling great) and it won’t always be this hard. As long as you keep pushing through, dieting will get easier again.
Sabotaging Thought: It will be a waste of money if I go to a restaurant and don’t finish my meal.
Response: The money is spent whether I eat the food or not. I should focus on the experience of enjoying a night out and enjoying the company, not eating every bite on my plate. Besides, if I bring some home I’ll save money because I’ll have food for another meal.
I’ve been working with my client, Joe, for a few months and he has been doing exceptionally well at getting his eating under control. When I saw him last week, he told me about a number of events he had been to over the past week and described how well he had done at them. As I was listening, I noticed that he said one phrase multiple times: “And I didn’t have any dessert.” I asked him about this, and Joe told me that the few times he tried to have dessert he ate way too much, so now he just doesn’t have it at all.
I discussed with Joe that while this may work as a short-term strategy, avoiding dessert would very likely not enable him to lose weight and keep it off long-term. The reason for this is because Joe is being all-or-nothing about dessert – either he doesn’t have any or he has too much. While it has (temporarily) been working for Joe to have no dessert, I knew he wouldn’t be able to stick to that forever. Joe really likes dessert, and so it’s practically a guarantee that at some point he’s going to get very tempted and end up having some. And if he doesn’t know how to stay in control, he’s going to eat way too much, reinforce bad habits, get off track, and jeopardize his weight loss and his sense of control. I also didn’t want Joe to be fearful going into dessert situations, wondering whether or not this would be the time he wouldn’t be able to resist. I knew that if Joe didn’t learn to eat a reasonable amount of dessert, he would continually boomerang between having none and having too much, which would likely eventually lead to weight gain.
I told Joe that I thought it was really important for us to start working on him having reasonable portions of dessert, and although he was wary, Joe agreed to try. I asked him if there was a dessert opportunity coming up this week, and he told me that he was going to a barbeque over the weekend that would almost certainly have a table full of desserts.
Joe and I then spent the rest of the session preparing him to go to the barbeque and have one dessert. We first discussed some strategies: Joe would look at all the desserts before deciding what to have, he would put whatever he was going to eat on a plate, and he would sit down and eat it very slowly and mindfully, savoring every bite. Joe and I then discussed what he wanted to say to himself before and after he had his one dessert, to ensure that he was able to maintain his control.
Before he ate dessert, Joe decided that he would read his Advantages List and remind himself why it was worth it to limit himself to just one. After he ate dessert, Joe decided that he would read the following Response Card:
Joe emailed me Saturday night and told me that the barbeque was a success! For one of the first times in recent memory, Joe was able to face an entire spread of dessert and not be all-or-nothing about it. Joe said that reading his Advantages List and Response Card greatly helped him keep his head in the right place and he left the party feeling so proud of himself. Joe agreed to keep working on the skill of having one dessert and knows that this will help him ultimately keep weight off for good.
The holidays will be here before we know it. It’s important to get ourselves in a strong and on track place now, so we can maintain it if/when things get harder.
Focus on what you can do today. If you think, “I can’t keep this up for a month, a year, or longer” remind yourself, “Forget the long term. I know I can continue to do what I need to do today. If it’s hard tomorrow I’ll deal with it then.”
Besides – a year from now you’ll have a year’s worth of practice under your belt.
Don’t buy Halloween candy early! Having it around will only tax your willpower. If you’ve bought some and it’s tempting you, it’s worth getting rid of it, especially going into the weekend when you’ll be home and around it more. It’s not worth it!
It’s not always easy to exert dieting willpower, so it’s worth it to limit the number of times you need to do so. Whether this means keeping certain foods out of your house, only bringing in individual-sized portions, or putting away leftovers immediately after you serve, the more you cut down the need to use willpower the less you will have to rely on it.
Sabotaging Thought: I’ll just eat [this unplanned food] and make up for it later.
Response: When has “making up for it later” ever really had the results I want? Besides, every time I eat unplanned food, I make it more likely I’ll do so the next time, and the next time, and will make it harder to stick to my plan. It’s worth it to stay on plan now so that I make my life EASIER!
Cravings are about want, NOT need. When you think, “I really need this food right now,” remind yourself, “Actually, I really want this food right now, but I also really, really, really want all the benefits of weight loss so much more. It’s worth it to resist because it will get me to my goals.”
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.
One Belmont Avenue, Suite 700
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1610