January 8, 2013

Diet Tip in the New Year

Dr. Aaron Beck, M.D., known worldwide as the father of Cognitive Therapy, and his daughter, Dr. Judith Beck, Ph.D. psychologist founded The Beck Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.   Dr. Judith Beck is also the author of The Beck Diet Solution, a book that provides cognitive and behavioral weight loss strategies.

The Beck Diet Solution website emails dieting tips taken from her book.  Since it's the new year and many of us make resolutions to get healthy and lose weight, I thought I'd post the most recent suggestion. It features a cognitive approach to addressing one of the most frustrating aspects of dieting:  relapses or slips.   It also illustrates a core cognitive principle of thought replacement.

Recovering from Mistakes Immediately: A Key to Weight Loss and Maintenance Success

Dieters often make resolutions this time of year to lose weight and keep it off. Many dieters have made this same resolution in previous years and have ultimately not been successful.  One of the biggest stumbling blocks that dieters face is getting back on track after a dieting mistake, often because they say to themselves things like:

I've made a mistake. I've really blown it for the day. I might as well keep eating whatever I want and start again tomorrow.  

But it takes most dieters much longer to get firmly and consistently back on track -- perhaps a week, a month, or even a year. As a result, they likely gain back any weight they had lost.

We teach dieters many techniques to get back on track after making a single eating mistake.  One such technique is the use of analogies to demonstrate that making one mistake is not a valid reason to continue making more mistakes.  For example, we might say:

If you were walking down a flight of stairs and stumbled down a few, would you think, "Well, I've really blown it now!" and throw yourself down the rest?

If you were washing your fine china and dropped a plate, would you throw the rest of your plates on the floor?

If you were driving on the highway and missed your exit, would you continue to drive 5 more hours in the wrong direction?

We help dieters see that it makes no sense to compound one eating mistake with a second (or more). Once they accept that all mistakes, even dieting mistakes, are a part of life and learn how to recover from them right away, they're able to lose weight and keep it off without disrupting and undoing their hard work and weight loss achievements. 

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