Dieting can be made more difficult when you set yourself up for failure or you have a spouse or significant other waving temptation in your face. But, the good news is that there are ways to cope and dieting does NOT have to be horrible. There are tactics to try to make sure that you don’t set yourself up and sabotage your own diet as well as ways to make sure that those that are close to you do not try to derail your dieting efforts. Teaching yourself to handle situations differently is going to be key to changing your attitude and persistence to stick to a certain diet and create a lifestyle change.
It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve seen these situations many times and I am even guilty of sabotaging my own diet. I would feel deprived and start putting myself in situations where I knew I would give in to temptation. Like going out to dinner and looking over a menu with healthy options, but then would order the fries instead of the salad on the side of my main dish. I would justify this by saying that it wasn’t a complete cheat, just a small one. Or, I would keep food in the house that I was not supposed to be eating and I knew I couldn’t control. I love Nutella and keeping a jar in the house while I’m trying to diet is a silly thing because I know it’s going to be eaten. Another clever trick I’d play on myself would be looking at dessert recipes on Pinterest and drool over what I couldn’t have and plan what I wanted for my next cheat. You know…because the cheat meal is life while on a diet.
There should NOT be any excuses or ‘small’ cheats, cheating is cheating and should be avoided. It’s how you are thinking about the diet that will help with how you approach the different circumstances. And, it is important to adjust your attitude when dieting. Calling the changes that you are making to what you are eating a ‘diet’ sounds temporary. Think of what you are doing as a lifestyle change to better your health and body and remember that the only person that you are cheating, when ‘cheating’ on the diet, is yourself.
When going out to eat, if you know that you cannot make the healthier decision, then only go out to eat when you are allowed a cheat meal. Another trick is to avoid going food shopping while you are hungry. You are more inclined to buy food that appeals to you rather than what is needed for health or on diet for your meals. To that end, do a spring cleaning of your kitchen. Throw away, or give away, food that you should not be eating in your pantry and refrigerator – do NOT keep food that will make you cheat in your house!
Family, Friends and Spouse Sabotage
Sometimes sabotage is not intentionally done, but there are those around you that will purposefully try to make you cheat on your diet. An example of inadvertent sabotage is when there’s a catered lunch for a special event in the office, the kind coworker brings over a cupcake to your office while you’re busy with work and says they saved you one! How sweet of them, right? They didn’t know you were dieting, it’s best not to leave the cupcake uneaten and offend them.
But, there are friends and family that fully intend on throwing temptation in your face and doing their best to make you fall off the dieting wagon. I have a client with a spouse that is not supportive of how she is changing her dietary habits. She has been eating whole foods, avoiding junk foods like pizza and trying to kick her habit of eating sweets daily. Her husband will call her into the kitchen from another room and hand her a personal pizza, fully aware that she is trying to diet and pizza is her favorite kind of junk food. Another cute example of family sabotaging diet, is my cousins, aunts and uncles at a family gathering. They will deliberately cook my favorite treats and set them on a plate in front of me! How dare they?!
Handling the Sabotage-ers
When it comes to intentional and unintentional acts of sabotage, it is important to explain to the people that surround you frequently throughout your day and week that you are trying to be healthier and achieve certain goals. Help them to understand how important this diet is to you and why you want to adhere to it. When it comes to husbands, wives or significant others, do your best to include them in the process so they feel involved. See if they will help prep cook and ask for ideas on how to spice food or recipe ideas. Have them taste the food you are getting ready and ask if they would like to have some for themselves during the week. Regardless of whether they choose to be involved in the process or not, it is essential that the conversation be had, and they support as well as respect the process that you are going through.
I used to dread walking into family or friend’s occasions when I was trying to diet. But, this doesn’t need to happen, and you don’t need to feel that you must avoid social settings to keep dieting. That’s an unrealistic expectation to keep up and altering your life in such a way will make you start to resent the diet. The easiest way to solve this problem was to plan my cheat of the week to be on that event – no one could temp me with food when I was allowed to eat anything I wanted at that meal! Or, if it was a short notice event, I would bring healthy food options with me. Usually I would have enough time to prepare fruit for the desert table with sugar free and fat free Cool Whip on a platter and cut veggies for a platter with grilled chicken. You can walk into the event as a gracious guest that helps fill the food tables and you have healthy options that are on point with your diet to eat.
It’s not always fun to deal with people that try to ruin your diet. But, if you are serious about your goals and want them bad enough, you will lean to cope with the temptations. Prepare ahead of time, have determination and conviction in your decisions to change your eating habits. Soon these coping mechanisms will become second nature and dieting will become your new lifestyle that your friends, family as well as yourself will accept.