If you’ve broken diet rules at one meal and again at the next because you said to yourself, “What the hell, I already did it once!” then you’ve experienced this phenomena. It’s like dominoes, you tip one over and the rest start to fall. When you do something you “shouldn’t” and there are no immediate negative consequences, it’s easy to do it again.
Should dieting be so fragile?
Some say, “rules are made to be broken”. This is especially true when there are too many of them. You can only be so disciplined before something has to give. Especially when it comes to dieting, which usually means counting calories and “eat this, not that”. It’s a recipe for failure (no pun intended).
The first problem is that when dieting, most of us are literally starving for food and sometimes pleasure as well. Our need to survive and fulfill caloric needs supersedes the desire to lose weight or fit into skinny jeans. When the body is hungry it’ll win over the mind every time to get what it needs. Food is often used for pleasure when it’s really best used as a way to fuel the body.
The second problem with a diet plan is that you follow them like you do a GPS or automatic dial on your phone. You never learn your own way or memorize important phone numbers because you get used to having it done for you. Your nutrition coach can’t go to dinner with you every night, so what then?
Rely on your willpower….OR NOT….
In their study of Willpower, Roy Baumeister and John Tierney found that many problems stem from lack of self control. It’s not that humans aren’t capable of controlling themselves. Baumeister and Tierney say that we only have so much willpower to use each day and once we run out, there is no more.
Reduce your need to resist food by re-defining your relationship with it and shifting your mindset.
Being more conscious about your eating choices is replacing dieting and it’s actually quite fulfilling. Instead of referring to your rules sheet every time you sit down to a meal, take a deep breath and become more present. Get off auto-pilot. Habits are automatic behavior done without thinking. They’re unconscious. Eating consciously starts with mindfulness.
Next time you sit down to eat, call upon one or more of these thoughts:
- Will it matter (will I remember) whether I ate this or not in 10 minutes?
- Will this nourish and satisfy my body for the next few hours?
- Does this food choice fulfil my need for pleasure OR nutritional requirements?
- Can I find pleasure somewhere else and utilize this meal to replenish my body?
- How will I feel about this meal/food choice later/tomorrow?
Mindful and conscious eating works better than a diet because you think about it before you begin. You’ll be able to feel when you’re full when you’re more honed in to your body. Just like thinking before you speak usually works out better. If you decide that the food you’re about to eat satisfies your pleasure centers, then at least you came to that choice on your own, instead of just by impulse.
Get your brain and body back on the same page by taking control of your choices and health.