This week, I had a session with my client Sonia, a 45-year-old mother of four boys. Sonia told me the sabotaging thought that kept popping up over the past week: “I want more.” When she’s eating something that tastes good, she keeps thinking she wants more even when she knows it’s enough. Often, she feels deprived if she doesn’t have more.
I discussed with Sonia that when she’s eating something – assuming she’s already eaten a reasonable amount – and she chooses to continue, she’ll get more food but feel less in control and make less progress towards her goals. When she stops eating after a reasonable amount, she’s getting less food (not no food!), but she’ll feel more in control, make more progress towards good health, and reinforce healthy habits. In either scenario, she’s getting less of one thing and more of another.
Another way to look at this is that either way she’s going to feel deprived. Either she’s going to feel deprived of some food, some of the time (but not all food all of the time), or she’s going to feel deprived of achieving everything on her Advantages List. For Sonia, and many others, the unfortunate truth is that eating every bite of food she wants, losing weight, and keeping it off are mutually exclusive goals.
Sonia and I discussed that she has a bit of a hair-trigger deprivation meter. Every time she tells herself, “No, you can’t eat that,” she immediately feels very deprived. This is likely because in past weight loss phases, she actually has deprived herself. In the past, she would allow herself no carbs, no sugar, or too few calories each day. We discussed that this time is different. This time, she is eating carbs, she is eating sugar, and she is taking in a reasonable amount of calories each day. Although she’s not necessarily eating as many of these things as she would like each day, she is still eating a reasonable amount.
I told Sonia that we have to work on reprogramming her brain to understand that “No” doesn’t mean “I can’t ever have this food” (as it did in the past). Now, “no” just means, “I’m not having any more right now. But I can still plan to have more another time.”