It’s almost here. It’s Halloween and it’s been the death of many a good diet for decades, probably centuries.
Probably ever since the trick-or-treat tradition began mothers (and others) who’ve been doing their best to take off a few or many pounds find their efforts go asunder when the kiddies come home with the Halloween treats.
In about two weeks dedicated dieters will succumb to the temptation and will overindulge and give up the ghost, so to say. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to candyproof yourself in order to be prepared for the challenge that’s coming.
Candyproof doesn’t mean never eating candy again; it means eating it while enjoying it fully as part of a healthy way of eating and a healthy lifestyle.
Turn cravings into aversions
A common weight loss strategy is to cut out sweets. The benefits include giving the dieter a sense of control and the obvious reduction of calories coming from those foods. The disadvantage is the sense of control is false. Running away from a challenge isn’t strength, it’s weakness. It only works for a while.
Eventually circumstances converge into creating a situation where sweets can no longer be avoided. At that point, the dieter discovers that a single bite can trigger an episode of total loss of self-control. Forget about damage control, it appears that there is no degree of bad or worse. What could have been a small and insignificant incident, becomes a lapse from which there seems to be no end. Yes, Halloween can be one of those circumstances.
Cravings have been building up ever since sweets were removed from the diet. Deprivation and cravings can be a powerful force, but it doesn’t have to be. To beat down the cravings, the best defense is to go with them. In other words, eat candy. Eat lots of candy. Eat candy instead of more nutritious foods. Eat candy until you’re at least figuratively sick of it, and better, until you’re literally sick of it.
That’s how the aversion strategy works. End cravings and desire to eat candy by overindulging until candy loses its hold over you.
If you don’t like that idea, here is another one. It’s called flexible restraint.
Flexible restraint is a useful lifelong weight management skill. It’s allows for less-than-perfection while ensuring the results of going off course won’t end with unwanted pounds.
The key to flexible restraint is “unwanted” pounds. Yes, I’m saying that sometimes there will be a weight gain of a pound or two with flexible restraint, but it was expected and acceptable. Often, when a slight weight gain is planned, it never comes to fruition.
Many people have more strength when they are flexible, whereas rigidity puts them in a position where such restrictive behavior causes all self-control. Once control is lost, they find it hard to stop overeating despite promises to themselves to get back on track. They simply cannot and go on to gain a lot of weight.
Flexible restraint is a skill that can be learned. It’s about retraining yourself to make positive choices when an event may trigger a negative choice because of the way you feel and think about what happened or what will happen. Learning flexible restraint is a way to break free from destructive impulsive urges and old behavior patterns triggered by negative thoughts and feelings.
It’s balance that comes from developing an overall healthy eating pattern that sometimes means choosing high-calorie, less nutritious foods in small amounts. Studies show that people who abandon rigid rules and develop a flexible restraint approach have improved long-term weight control as well as increased psychological well-being.
The flexible restraint approach involves learning skills such as:
- Becoming aware and reacting accordingly to the body signals of hunger and fullness
- Coping with stress, emotions and impulses
- Recognizing and turning around negative thoughts and feelings and replacing with positive and accepting patterns of thinking and self-talk
The most important think about candyproofing yourself with flexible restraint is to stop categorizing food as “fattening and non fattening.” It’s about switching focus from a diet to a livable, healthy lifestyle. This includes preparing nutritious, naturally lower-calorie foods in ways that you truly savor, but it’s not just about how and what you eat. It includes establishing habits for getting regular physical activity, dealing with stress, and spending time engaged in healthy, active, pleasurable activities.
Weight Watchers leaders are trained in helping people develop these skills. It’s a big part of what makes meetings such an effective way to change behaviors to support a healthy lifestyle resulting in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
We welcome guests to visit all of our traditional Weight Watchers of Maine meetings for free to see for yourself how our program can help candyproof you.