Ask the Diet Program Coordinator

Question: I struggle with feeling boxed in by the phrase, “No Choice.” Is this just immaturity and something I need to work on to accept?

Answer: For a lot of our dieters, the phrase NO CHOICE is extremely useful because it helps them reduce dieting struggles. If they want to give in to a craving, have a second helping at dinner, or eat a bag of chips while zoning out in front of the television, they can tell themselves, “Absolutely not. NO CHOICE. I’m not going have it.” When dieters, even subconsciously, give themselves a choice about something, like eating a cookie they just saw in the break room, it sets up the uncomfortable struggle of should I/shouldn’t I have this, which often sounds something like:

I really want to eat this.

But I know I shouldn’t because it’s not on my plan.

But it looks really good.

But it might jeopardize my diet.

But just having a little bit won’t matter.

But it will matter because it will set up a sugar craving.

But just this one time won’t hurt.

When dieters engage in this struggle, it makes it harder for them to make the right choice, especially if their sabotaging thoughts are strong and they don’t yet have good responses to them. In this way, just ignoring all the sabotaging thoughts and telling themselves, “NO CHOICE,” is very helpful in getting past the difficult situation.

However, some of our dieters don’t like the No Choice phrase and sometimes find themselves rebelling against the notion of not having a choice, so we don’t use it with them. Many dieters in this camp prefer thinking about it terms of actually having a choice that they are making. “I choose not to give into this craving,” or “I choose to not have any of those cookies because my weight loss goals are much more important to me.” Sometimes the phrase, “I choose,” can be just as powerful as the phrase, “No Choice.”

The advantage of dieters using the “I choose” phrase is that it cuts down on any rebellion because it reminds dieters that they are doing this because they want to, and because it will enable them to reach their goals for themselves (and not the diet coach’s goals for them). That way they don’t have to feel like their diet coach is the one pushing them to do something unnecessarily or taking away their free will in any way. Because, after all, dieters are ultimately the ones in charge of everything that they do or don’t eat and it is up to them to choose what that will be. For some dieters, a possible disadvantage of using “I choose” or not using “No Choice,” is that then they are still engaging in the should I/shouldn’t I struggle if they initially forget why it’s worth it to make the choices that will get them to their goals.

So the answer is no, this is not necessarily something that you have to work on or accept. We understand that each and every dieter is unique and will respond differently to each thought and response. While some phrases and responses are helpful to a great number of dieters, that doesn’t mean it is true for everyone. If “No Choice,” isn’t right for you then you just need to figure out what other phrases or responses will be helpful to you in those moments when the sabotaging thoughts are the strongest. For every sabotaging thought there is a helpful response!

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