My dieter, Jason, had a major victory this week. He was, for the first time in a long time, able to eat a single slice of pizza and not go on to eat many, many more. In the past, Jason would often order a whole pizza, telling himself, “I’ll only have one or two slices and stop there,” but inevitably he would continue eating until the whole pie was gone.
In session this week, Jason told me about his triumph and then stated that while he was happy he had only eaten one slice, he did wish that he could have gotten that “happy” feeling from eating the whole pizza. I asked Jason to think about the last time he ate a whole pizza and how he felt about it after. Without any hesitation, he immediately replied, “I feel terrible. I feel so mad at myself and guilty.” Jason and I discussed this idea further, and he came to the realization that the thought of eating an entire pizza is actually much better than the reality of doing so because in his (sabotaging) thinking about overeating pizza, he does not accurately recount how he’ll really feel.
Jason and I then talked about how he felt after eating only one slice, and how that was different from eating a whole pizza. Jason realized that, although he did want more, once the pizza was out of his sight he felt really happy and proud that he had only had one slice. He was actually able to have pizza without feeling guilty about it, because he knew that it was on his plan and that it would help him reach his goals.
Jason made the following Response Cards:
Overeating NEVER feels as good as thinking about it does. My sabotaging thoughts try to convince me that I’ll love it and feel really happy if I overeat, but in fact, that’s never the case. When I do this, I end up feeling bad, guilty, and angry with myself.
When I stick to only eating one piece of pizza, I actually enjoy it more because I know that it will help me continue to stick to my diet and reach my weight loss goals.
Although I may think ahead of time that having a whole pizza feels better than only having one slice, that is completely untrue because when I only have one slice, I feel proud and good about myself and I get closer to my goals. Having a whole pizza feels terrible and takes me further and further away from my goals.
It’s not all-or-nothing. It’s not as if I can either have a whole pizza or no pizza at all. I can plan to have one slice of pizza when I want to, and in doing so, I get to enjoy the experience of eating pizza AND enjoy the experience of losing weight.