We’ve all had those days where you feel like your eating is completely out of control and/or everything you’re putting in your mouth seems a bit naughty. You just can’t seem to stop.
When we have these days, we say we’ve been bad and we often spend WAY too much time dwelling on it. “I shouldn’t have eaten that. Now I’ve undone all my hard work. I have no will power. I might as well give up. I’ve made no progress.” The stuff we start saying to ourselves can be pretty nasty and let’s face it, it doesn’t do us a lot of good and certainly doesn’t suddenly transform us into a model for ‘perfect’ eating (whatever that is!). Sounds familiar?
Now, I don’t encourage our clients to think of foods in terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as those terms aren’t helpful and they only serve to make us feel guilty and beat ourselves up if we have too much of what we perceive to be ‘bad’ for us. All food is just food. Some foods we should eat as part of our every day diet and others are more sometimes foods but they’re all just foods. With the exception of allergies and intolerances, there’s really no need to eliminate any particular food from your diet.
As this ‘good vs bad’ way of thinking is generally so well ingrained for so many of us, negative thoughts will very likely creep in at certain points along the way, I feel it’s well worth the conversation about what to do if you do go a bit overboard – or feel as though you have.
So, what will happen if you go round in circles telling yourself you’ve been ‘bad’ after you’ve gone on a bit of a binge or just even more than you planned (or really felt like)? You’ll start to feel more and more negatively about yourself and your ability to continue on your journey toward a healthier you. You’ll start to believe you can’t do it and you will stop taking all those little positive steps you’ve been taking toward your goals. You’ll be more prone to bingeing because that’s how many of us tend to deal with the distress we are causing ourselves.
You can see how it becomes a vicious cycle. We try to do what we think is the right thing. We do something that makes us believe we’ve messed it up – often because we’ve denied ourselves what we truly feel like and have a sense of deprivation. We talk negatively toward ourselves and our efforts. We dwell on it until we believe we’ve failed. We give up on ever being able to achieve our goals. We almost inevitably gain a bit of weight. We feel even worse about ourselves and we decide to try again. We’ll be ‘good’ this time. And so the cycle begins again.
In the grand scheme of life, and your journey, one night of overindulgence or a whole day of what feels like insanity is going to make very little difference. If we speak to ourselves in a more positive way, accept what’s happened and carry on – the effect will be very minimal. Certainly the effect will be much smaller than if we start to doubt ourselves and beat ourselves up over it. We can’t turn back the clock and make a different decision. Dwelling on it serves zero purpose. Save your energy.
Next time you find yourself in this situation, instead of getting yourself too worked up about something you can’t actually change, try to stop yourself and assess the situation. How much impact will it REALLY have if you’ve overeaten today? Think about why you might have eaten more than you really needed or felt like. Is there a different way you could deal with it next time? Most importantly, don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about it. Just draw a line in the sand and carry on how you were going – I promise the damage really is very minimal if you accept it and move on.