Do you ever forbid yourself from eating certain foods such as chocolate or cheese, then ‘give in’ and eat huge amounts of them?
Afterwards, do you make a promise to yourself that this will never happen again?
Do you vow to start again tomorrow and with another diet?
I have done all of these things. Every time that we overeat or binge, it is because we have a thought that we believe that isn’t true.
Here are 5 of these thoughts, and how you can change them.
This is the last supper
Thought: This is what we think when we resolve to start a new diet. When we are planning to restrict our food choices or calories, our brain goes crazy thinking this is the last chance to eat. We stuff ourselves with chocolate, cake, crisps, pizza; all the foods that we are never going to have again.
How to change this thought: Get rid of the dieting mentality: eat today as if you’re not going to start a diet (because you’re not!)
I will only allow myself to have x amount of calories
Thought: If we restrict our calorie intake, we will eventually overeat. When we under eat, our bodies go into starvation mode and respond by driving up hunger and cravings to ensure that we seek out food. This will cause us to overeat. It is the body’s way of keeping us alive. In this way, we will end up eating more calories overall, than if we didn’t restrict our calorie intake in the first place. For more on this, please visit my blog Why Diets Don’t work.
How to change this thought: Do not place restrictions on the amount of food you eat. Know that when we limit our calories in order to lose weight, this will lead us to overeat and actually cause us to gain weight in the long term.
I am not allowed to eat x y z
Thought: We crave whatever types of food we cut out of our diets. For example, implementing rules such as ‘I am not allowed to eat ice cream’ drives up cravings for ice cream. This then leads us to consume far more ice cream than we would if we hadn’t limited it in the first place.
How to change this thought: Permit all types of foods! This means that we won’t feel deprived and therefore won’t experience an urge to binge.
I am never going to binge again
Thought: This puts us back in the cycle of restriction and binging. If we resolve never to binge again, then we renew our diets, feel deprived, experience cravings and insatiable hunger, and end up binging.
How to change this thought: Do not make any promises to yourself; and allow yourself to eat without restriction. Remember that under eating or omitting food groups makes it more likely that we will binge. Promising ourselves that we will never binge again means that we almost certainly will.
I have blown it
Thought: If we eat something that was off our food plan, or we eat something that we consider to be ‘naughty,’ we think that we have blown it, so we might as well binge. Sometimes even if we eat just a little bit of something that we have designated as ‘forbidden’ food, then we feel like we have somehow crossed a line, so we might as well go all the way over the line.
How to change this thought: Know that if you eat a cookie, or a chocolate bar, that does not mean that you need to eat all the cookies in the packet, or a huge foot long Toblerone. Consider this: if you accidentally cut your hand, you would not think, ‘oh well now I might as well chop it off.’ You are allowed to have a little bit of something, or a lot of something. Just because you eat a bit of chocolate, does not mean that you now have to eat it all. It is your choice: you can choose to eat it, or you can choose not to.
Consider whether you are thinking and believing any of these 5 thoughts. When they come up for you, remember that they are not true!
Follow the ‘how to change this thought’ advice above and know that you have the choice to eat, or not to eat. The power lies with you.