You have been dieting for weeks! Things have been going well, and you feel so much better! You have lost 50 pounds, and fitting into clothes you have not worn for awhile! In addition, your family doctor is pleased with your progress, and many of your medical problems have improved – your blood pressure, blood sugar, knee pain!
One weekend you went to dinner with some friends, and before you knew it, you were eating many high fat, high sugar, and high salt foods! What happened, and how do you get back on track? First of all it is important to step back and see what factors pulled you off-track in the first place. What actually triggered your lapse? Don’t wait until the next day or Monday to start back on track!
A “lapse” is a temporary departure from the new desired behavior. Lapses are like a chain reaction, and something may have triggered you into a familiar chain or responses. Don’t give up! The first step is to identify what led up to the inappropriate eating behavior. After the triggers have been identified then you can try to anticipate or interrupt these triggers next time they occur. These triggers can even be just thoughts that you have. Triggers can be external (watching someone else eat) or internal (feeling fatigued or emotional). The important step is to identify them and make the necessary changes. One technique in dealing with lapses is to give yourself a positive payoff or reward for doing the right behavior. For example, the next time you go out to eat and stay on your plan, perhaps listening to music or reading a good book would give you a lot of pleasure. It is important to do a pleasurable activity or give yourself a reward soon after the behavior! Rewards can be behaviors, activities, or even material rewards. Self-monitoring is also critical. This way you can track your most difficult times and plan ahead for them. You can record your weekly lifestyle, activity, and exercise goals. You can also record your thoughts as well as your food intake. Two web resources which may be helpful with your self-monitoring are: www.calorieking.com and www.mynetdiary.com.