A few months ago my client, Susan, went on vacation with her friend, Caroline, and Caroline’s two kids. After the trip, Susan and I spent some time in session discussing what had gone well and what could have gone better. This was especially important because we knew that Susan was again going away with Caroline and her children in a few weeks.
Susan told me that the major area that needed improvement was dessert. While it was great that she and Caroline took a walk every morning, they also stopped at a local donut and bagel shop on the way home so that Caroline could get breakfast for her kids. Susan told me that more often than not, she would go inside with Caroline, be tempted by everything she saw and smelled, and would end up buying and eating at least one donut before she walked out the door. Not only was this problematic from a calorie perspective, but Susan told me that it also threw off her eating for the rest of the day, because when she got home she wasn’t hungry for her usual healthy and satisfying breakfast, but then got very hungry an hour or two later, and would eat something which would throw off her lunch, and so on.
Susan also struggled with treats when she, Caroline, and the kids would take their after dinner boardwalk stroll during which everyone picked out a treat for dessert. This was difficult for Susan because not only would she eat what she bought, but she would also end up eating some of Caroline’s dessert, too (because Caroline, lacking a big sweet tooth, always had extra and Susan always developed a craving for it).
In session Susan and I first talked about how she would handle the stop at the donut and bagel shop. Since Susan knew she’d prefer to have dessert at night when everyone else was eating it (and since she also knew that she couldn’t eat two desserts a day and not gain weight) and because donuts were always gone very quickly and then negatively impacted her eating the rest of the day, Susan decided that she would rather just not have any donuts in the morning. To help her follow through with this, we came up with a two part strategy.
1. Susan wouldn’t even go into the donut shop with Caroline, thus limiting her exposure to temptations, and would wait outside to do stretching or check her email on her phone.
2. While Caroline was in the shop, Susan would read the following Response Card:
I have a healthy, satisfying, and delicious breakfast waiting for me at home. I’m not having a donut because it will be gone too quickly, negatively impact my eating, and make me feel guilty. It’s worth it to wait!
Susan and I then discussed how she would handle dessert at night. Since Susan knew that she was highly susceptible to craving what everyone else was eating, and since she was in the habit of sharing some of Caroline’s desserts, she decided that the best course of action would simply be to order whatever Caroline ordered. Having just been on vacation with Caroline, Susan knew that she, too, would enjoy whatever Caroline decided to have, and if they both had the same thing, then Susan didn’t have to worry about going overboard eating two desserts. To help her stick to this plan, Susan made the following Response Card:
Whatever Caroline gets for dessert, I’m sure to like. If I get something different, the whole time I am eating my dessert I will be craving whatever Caroline has, thus diminishing my enjoyment in my own dessert and causing me to eat Caroline’s extras. Just order what Caroline orders.
In session with Susan last week, she told me that she had just gotten back from her second beach trip with Caroline and her kids – and it was a huge success. Susan said that these strategies, along with the Response Cards that helped her implement them, took her from overindulging and feeling guilty, to enjoying her food and feeling great.