Initially dieters often feel a sense of unfairness about what they’re not eating. However, along the way as they learn new skills and start to feel in control of their eating, they start to feel proud of what they don’t eat – not deprived. If you feel deprived, keep in mind that it’s HIGHLY likely this won’t always be the case. Stick with it!
If you buy bags of chips and each time tell yourself, “I’ll limit it to one portion this time,” but then never do – stop fooling yourself! Evidence shows that right now you can’t handle big bags of chips so, at least temporarily, stop buying them. Work on getting used to the the portion in individual-sized bags and then work your way back up.
Sabotaging Thought: I can’t believe I just ate that! I’ve really blown it for the day. I might as well keep eating and get back on track tomorrow.
Response: If I were driving on the highway and missed my exit, would I think, “I’ve really blown it now!” and drive 5 more hours in the wrong direction? No! I’d get off at the next exit and immediately turn around. That’s exactly what I need to do now, too.
If you think, “I just ate dinner an hour ago but now I’m hungry for something else,” remind yourself that if you ate a satisfying dinner, it’s not hunger you’re feeling. You may WANT to eat in that moment, but that doesn’t mean your body needs any more food.
If you think, “When I eat out this weekend, I won’t have any control over my food. How will I stay in control?” Remind yourself that while you may not always have control over what food is served to you, you ALWAYS have control over what you put in your mouth!
If you think, “I’ve been on a diet for 20 years. I’m just not the type of person who can lose weight,” remind yourself, “I’m different now because I’m learning critical skills I didn’t know before. I CAN lose weight, and I will keep losing weight AND keep it off because I will continue to use my skills.”
Skipping meals backfires! Often when dieters skip a meal, they then think, “Since I didn’t eat lunch I can afford to eat extra now,” and then wind up taking in many more calories than they would have if they had just eaten a reasonable lunch and dinner.
Sabotaging Thought: It’s not fair I can’t eat whatever I want (and other people can).
Response: Either way it’s unfair. Either I face unfairness by limiting my eating, or I face all the unfairnesses and hardships that come with being overweight. Besides, it’s a common misconception that other people can eat whatever they want and it’s HIGHLY likely that they’re limiting themselves, too.
If you make a dieting mistake and start to catastrophize, ask yourself, “What would I say to my best friend if she told me about a mistake she made?” Chances are you’d be more compassionate to a friend than you would be to yourself. In dieting, you’ll make many, many mistakes. It’s important to be compassionate to yourself so that you're able to learn from them and move on.
This weekend, if you think, “It’s okay to have a slice and a half of pie – they’re kind of small slices so an extra half is still probably one portion,” remind yourself that while you may be able to fool your mind into thinking it’s not extra, you’re never able to fool your body.
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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