“I can’t eat that! I’m on a diet!”

People waste money on ridiculous research. One of the more ridiculous research projects undertaken more than once was studying what makes people choose the foods they eat?

Got an idea what the findings of those studies might be?

Yup! People eat the food that tastes the best to them? Isn’t that an unexpected result!? Certainly it was so hard to come to that conclusion by simple observation that it was worth spending millions to know for sure through formal research.

So now, thanks to science, that we understand what drives our food choices it helps us understand why some diets don’t work. If your diet has you eating food that doesn’t taste good and prevents you from eating what does taste good, it’s not going to last. It’s in direct conflict with human nature.

Meanwhile, the desire to be thin is a desire driven not by instinct, but by conditioning. Very few people can effectively suppress the desire to eat what tastes good, but people can learn to eat what tastes good and support weight-related goals at the same time!

The concept scares a lot of dieters. The thought is, “if I can’t even stick to a diet eating food that doesn’t taste good, how can I eat what I love and stop before I gain a lot of weight?” The reality is the more we don’t eat what we like, the more we want it and the less likely we become to eat that food in balance and moderation.

It’s possible to take back your favorite foods and manage your weight at the same time. One need not preclude the other.

“I can eat whatever I want on my diet. I just need to do it when the time is right!”

1. Stay satisfied on lower calorie foods you enjoy (vegetables are good for this if you like vegetables. It’s worth trying a variety of vegetables both raw and cooked to develop a fondness for them.)

Blueberries and apples are delicious! Rice cakes, not so much. Why waste perfectly good calories on a disk that is about as satisfying and delicious as a styrofoam disk?

Blueberries and apples are delicious! Rice cakes, not so much. Why waste perfectly good calories on a disk that is about as satisfying and delicious as a styrofoam disk?

2. Eat good-tasting food.  Pay attention to nutrition and calories and reject anything that isn’t worth its calories.

Sure, frozen diet entrees are good in a pinch, but this is no way to eat every day, especially while everybody else is eating a "real meal" while you eat your micro-wave-zapped dinner out of a plastic tray.

Sure, frozen diet entrees are good in a pinch, but this is no way to eat every day, especially while everybody else is eating a “real meal” while you eat your micro-wave-zapped dinner out of a plastic tray.

3. Give yourself guidance through supportive messages. (e.g. I can eat what I want and it’s going to taste even better if I eat it when the time is right!)

Supportive Message Example: I just finished a satisfying, very good meal. I walked by a Krispy Kreme doughnut store and the doughnuts were fresh and the smell of them cooking was in the air. I don’t live near a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop and it’s rare that I am lucky enough to be in close vicinity to one. The doughnuts were on display in the window. The tray with the glazed, raspberry-filled doughnuts was front and center! I was ready to walk in to buy one but instead of rushing in on instinct to eat what tastes extremely good, I reminded myself that I was full. I could have a doughnut, but I wanted to wait until another time when I wasn’t full. I would eat one when I would really be able to savor and enjoy my favorite doughnut.

Raspberry-filled glazed doughnut, front and center!

Raspberry-filled glazed doughnut, front and center!

Here is how I used to undermine myself with “stinking thinking.” OMG! Krispy Kreme raspberry-filled, glazed doughnuts! I can’t walk past the store without eating one! Yes, I’m full but I can shove that doughnut right down on top of what I’ve just eaten and I’m going to get one. I’ve got to have one of them and one of those kreme-filled, chocolate covered doughnuts too!” Then I would go in, buy the doughnuts, eat them so fast I barely enjoyed them and walked away feeling overstuffed and weak and I’d blame it on the doughnut store rather than my hasty decision and regrettable actions!

Here is what actually happened as a result of changing my self-talk. I walked past the store feeling happy and strong instead of deprived. I knew that I would have a doughnut some other time when the time was right! There was no craving or lingering thoughts about doughnuts.

There is nothing that I did that anybody else – like you – couldn’t do. It’s all about giving yourself the right messages and practice, practice, PRACTICE!

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.