Handling Excuses Part 1Aug 05, 2023
This is part 1 of 3 posts about some of the most common excuses for overeating and how to talk to yourself so that you can start or continue to lose weight.
- My most frequent excuse for overeating is “It tastes so good.” Recently I did a mindful eating exercise and ate 2 cashew nuts very slowly - paying attention to the taste of each bite. When I slowed down, I realized that the nuts did not even taste very good, and it was mainly the salt that I liked. When I take a handful, I’m mostly tasting the salt. When I slow down, only a few nuts are enough. If you slow down, savor each bite, and eat while paying attention, you may realize that you’re satisfied with only a few bites.
- My second most frequent excuse is “because I want it.” Our brains are not always reliable. We often tell ourselves thoughts that we’ve told ourselves for such a long time that they’ve become habits. By learning to talk back to ourselves and not believing everything our brains say, we can remind ourselves that our brains don’t always tell us the truth. Another helpful way of handling “because I want it” is by pausing - doing something else for 10 minutes - and then, if you still want the food, eating it. You can also practice feeling uncomfortable while examining if there is a reason why you want to eat when you’re not hungry (such as you’re used to eating cookies when you want comfort, or you eat candy when you’re tired to give yourself some energy). If you sit with the discomfort for a short while, you may uncover what is behind “because I want it,” and then you can work on getting rid of that excuse.
- “Everyone else is eating it.” If you’ve planned a sandwich for lunch, and someone brings in a pizza (and you love pizza), or there is some other “free food” available, do you abandon your plan for that other food instead? What do you tell yourself? If you are serious about losing (or maintaining) your weight, can you make a rule that if it’s not on your plan, you’re not going to eat it (unless it’s something extremely unusual and luscious that you can never have it again - and you can’t take some home to eat it another time). I love pizza - but most pizza is not special. If my friends decide to go out for pizza and I did not plan for pizza, I might go with them and not eat or eat a salad (or something “equivalent” to what I’ve planned) or decide not to join them. It is possible to go out with friends, enjoy their company, and not eat!
- “She made it just for me.” If you love the food and it’s not on your plan, can you take some home and eat it tomorrow or another time? If it’s a food you’re trying to avoid, it’s also acceptable to thank the person for thinking of you, take the food home and not eat it. They got pleasure from making it and thinking of you, and your appreciation is all they need. (However, I would not tell them you threw or gave it away.)
- “Food is too expensive to waste.” If you were raised like I was - to finish your plate (and the serving bowl), it may be very difficult to leave some food. Practice makes it easier to leave food. You can then save that food for another time or throw it away. Another option, if you serve yourself, is to put some of the food back into the serving bowl before you eat any. Eating more than your body needs is another form of waste and may eventually harm your health.
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