I will start my diet tomorrow/on Monday/once I’ve moved house/once my birthday has passed/once things are calmer at work…which basically means – I will NEVER START MY DIET – because when tomorrow comes around, I will just tell myself again that I will start my diet TOMORROW
…and in meantime, I will stuff my face full of “just a few last” cakes/biscuits/pizzas/every naughty food I can find, because from tomorrow I won’t be allowed them anymore.
You can see how this pattern of thinking can end up leading to a lot of weight gain. When someone tells themselves that they will be on a restrictive diet plan from “tomorrow” they are basically giving themselves permission to eat far too much today. Repeat this pattern every couple of days and soon an individual will find that they have put on lots of weight!
This “starting my diet – tomorrow” thinking pattern is something that I see in the clinic A LOT.
We all love the idea that FROM TOMORROW we are magically going to become healthy, happy and start working towards our weight and health goals. Of course, we want to change, yet we aren’t quite ready to take on all the drastic changes that our new diet entails just yet. However, the reality is – if we cannot commit to changing our habits RIGHT NOW – there is no chance we are going to change them tomorrow. Sure, our day might begin well (or we might even last a few days or weeks on our new diet plan if we are lucky) but at some point, our restrictive diet plan will fail, we will fall off the wagon and then MASSIVELY over-indulge on lots of “naughty treats”.
So, we seem to love the IDEA of being slimmer (and therefore on a diet) more than actually being on a diet.
The problem with diets is that they require us to make lots of changes in one go. On this new diet-plan we will suddenly find that we have to give up dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, grains, nuts, anything brown or white...can we at least eat a bit of lettuce please?! Our brains are hardwired to follow certain patterns, seek out the familiar and on diets we just crave all of the foods that we have eliminated all of a sudden. Diets are just too much for our brains and bodies to handle – they can never bring about lasting change.
So, what can you do instead?
The only way to make sustainable changes to your diet is to change ONE THING AT A TIME. Just think about introducing one new habit every month.
Just making one change a month means that you won’t feel deprived and therefore won’t crave lots of things and feel grumpy/miserable. It will also allow you to completely change your health and life over the course of a year.
I know – a year sounds like a LONG time – we all want quick fixes – we all want to be slimmer next week. Yet studies show that those people who go on a diet always end up HEAVIER a few months after the diet. Why? - because when they go back to eating “normally” they just put all of the weight back on plus more (because their body has become used to living on two juices or three grains of rice and a piece of sweetcorn a day).
So the trick is – to create a new “normal” way of living by making one small change at a time.
Another thing you can do is to focus more on making nutritious choices for your body rather than on feeling that you need to deprive yourself of “naughty” foods. You can crowd out the naughty foods by eating lots more vegetables, grains, pulses, fruit, nuts and other things that are good for your body and your health.
Also ask yourself does food make you feel guilty or good? So many people I see associate food with feelings of GUILT – they think that food will make them fat, ugly or somehow make them fail yet another ridiculously restrictive diet plan…and I don’t blame them – the media and society conditions us to believe food is a fat-making evil and scary thing. Yet somewhere in this focus on looking perfect and avoiding “naughty foods” we have forgotten that we NEED food for nourishment – it is something to celebrate and enjoy for giving us life and energy. If you start to think of food as nourishment and look at eating as an opportunity to nourish your body – you also won’t feel deprived or the need to start “a new diet tomorrow”.
So, forget about tomorrow – focus on RIGHT NOW. What one small change can you make this month that will improve your health and happiness in the long run? How will you choose to nourish your amazing body?
The Food Psychology Clinic uses hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, mindfulness and science-based nutrition advice to help you to break free of the dieting cycle by re-programming your brain to develop a different relationship with food. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a 20-minute free phone consultation to find out how you can change your relationship with food for good and achieve a healthier lifestyle effortlessly.