In my dieting days, I was either trying to diet OR I was making the most of NOT dieting! There just wasn’t any in-between for me because I had convinced myself that the ‘middle’ was not even an option. I mean why on earth would I want to eat just over my calorie/syn or points allowance when I could give in and have everything I desired as well? There was no fun in the middle whatsoever because if I had one thing over what I was supposed to and then went back to the counting and monitoring I would have broken my diet and not even enjoyed it. It just wasn’t worth it.
When I look back, I can see the error of my ways and am shocked that my thinking was so very warped. The reason was that I was well and truly diet blind as I like to call it. What that means is that once your mindset is diet focused, you are unable to see any other way that you could possibly lose weight. Because of that, you will be in a constant state of obsessing or thinking about what you have already eaten, are about to eat or will be eating! I remember that I used to think about my next meal or snack all day long and the only time I had any respite from it all was when I was actually eating. Added to that was the fact that I could not freely enjoy what I truly wanted to eat (crisps, cakes, pies, chocolate etc) and so was left feeling guilty if I did AND I always felt cheated of fun when I forced myself to eat what I did not want (fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, oats etc).
So anytime I lost control and ate something I shouldn’t or a larger meal or snack than planned, I would go all the way and made the most of it by eating anything and everything I fancied! My initial intention was always to break my diet for that one day and then be back on it the next BUT it rarely panned out like that. In reality, this spell of fast and desperate eating could last anything from one day, to weeks or even months! When dieting again, I did lose weight, but year on year, I normally weighed more than the one before.
If this story rings true with you, please know that this is a very normal reaction for many dieters and we have even bought into it as a collective that on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmases, weddings etch, overeating is ‘legalised’ and encouraged on the grounds of reasonable excuse! Please also know however that you should commit to start ‘making the least of it’ because:
- You end up feeling worse once you eat past the point of hunger alone which can leave you feeling hopeless and depressed. As all of us comfort eaters know, these feelings lead us to seek comfort in our arch nemesis and BFF – Food! Therefore, after we have overindulged, we want to seek solace in food meaning we eat even more!
- You will end up putting on weight – no surprises here but I had to mention it.
- You keep yourself stuck in the restriction, denial /excess cycle that supports and nurtures a bad relationship with food. This keeps you locked in a no-win situation as you must heal your relationship with food if you are to enjoy long-term weight loss.
- After the point of feeling stuffed, you will cease to enjoy what you are eating as you are trying to make the most of it. This means that you continue to cause damage to your physical health long after you are full.
- Your mental health suffers as you make pacts with yourself about how you will be stricter on yourself from tomorrow. This causes the brain to panic as it believes a famine is imminent. Therefore, as an ancient survival technique, it multiplies your hunger, forcing you to eat.
There are many other dangers of this habit but I think the above illustrates the points that are the most important. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to realise therefore that this is completely the wrong thing to do when you have eaten just a bit too much or indulged in something you believe you should not have. Much better and healthier approaches that will also lead you to weight loss are:
- Make sure that you totally enjoy what you are indulging in without any guilt whatsoever. Our brains are wired to desire more of that which we cannot have and therefore removing guilt ensures that your craving does not trigger the intense desire to carry on with the indulgence for the rest of the day.
- Eat what you desire mindfully. In simple terms what this means is that you should eat using all of your five senses; touch the food, noticing its texture, smell the food, noticing what It’s like, hear the food by listening to it crunch, or crack etc, see the food, noticing it’s colour, shape, size etc and finally taste the food, noticing and identifying as many ingredients that you possibly can. This will let you engage fully with what you desire and also allow you to fully appreciate it. Doing this has two benefits, 1, you are able to enjoy it more 2, you are able to remember eating it better. So many times, when we indulge, we scoff food in a fast and frenzied fashion leaving us wanting more because we didn’t really give ourselves the opportunity to enjoy it.
- Eat it slowly, really slowly. Commit to chewing everything at least 15 times to let yourself fully enjoy every mouthful and also to allow sufficient time for your stomach to be able to read the full signal sent by the brain.
- Wait 20 minutes – This is a very powerful way to reduce the amount of food you need to feel satisfied as it is in the midst of panic that we eat without any attention or care to whether we are still hungry or if our desire has been met. Leaving a 20-minute gap before you decide to indulge again will let your mind can catch up with your body allowing you to make better decisions based on clarity and not desperation.
I hope that the above helps you as much as it helped me. Remember, you do not have to eat perfectly to lose weight, an indulgence here and there will not stand in your way. Set your intentions daily to use these techniques armed with the knowledge that you do not have to eat everything that you desire at once because tomorrow is another day.
Written by Sherry Taylor
Author of The Anti-Diet Lifestyle, 4 Crazy Steps to Weight Loss Success!