What do you do when you want to lose a few kilos but the temptation for sweets despairs you?
Do you allow it to yourself or do you resist?
Can you control anxiety when you diet?
Before becoming a psychologist I studied Dietetics and Nutrition and have worked several years in this area. But it was after studying my Master in Strategic Brief Therapy, when I learned something very important that Giorgio Nardone says:
“If you do allow yourself, you can control it, but if you don’t it becomes uncontrollable.”
Desire against reason
One of the main problems faced by my clients when they wanted to diet, was the inability to “control” their desire.
Depending on the person, the desire or temptation was either for sweet or salty things.
Our head has it very clear that in order to lose weight, you have to waste more energy than what you eat.
You can do this in two ways:
- Increasing energy expenditure: playing sports, for example, or,
- Decreasing the amount of food
But although the reasoning is obvious, the fact of “banning yourself” a certain food, will only increase your desire for it.
Facing the delicious cake your colleague brought to celebrate her birthday, your mind tells you:
- “Stop”! Don t you dare eating a single piece of cake!
- Are you going to lose all the efforts of the week?
- If you eat it, you’ll become like a seal, have to diet 5 more months and will never lose those extra kilos! “
Does this sound familiar?
But then your desire replies:
- Just a bit, just trying it …
- Tomorrow I’ll go to the gym and do an extra hour, but let me just taste this cake, it looks delicious…
- Besides, why everything has to be obligations? Can’t I just enjoy little pleasures?
At that moments it begins an internal struggle: desire against reason, temptation against duty, the little angel against the demon.
And, generally, desire or passion use to win the battle.
But as there’s been an internal struggle, it has generated anxiety.
So when you have a small piece of cake… you can’t stop!
What makes you feel really guilty, because your mind reminds you that “you shouldn’t have tried it” or “because you should have been stronger than the temptation”
How to control anxiety when you diet
If you allow yourself, you’ll be able to control it.
Do you know any diet in which you can eat a little piece of chocolate every day?
Those are the diets I recommend.
It’s clear that in order to lose weight, you have to eat less than what you spend.
What happens is that a part of our behavior is guided by passion, so you can’t just ignore it, because you won’t succeed.
The idea is to integrate the desire as a part of your diet (and your life), without denying it.
And I can hear you thinking:
“But Miriam, if I eat a piece of chocolate every day, then there’s no point in doing diet”
And I’ll ask another question:
What’s more important dieting during a certain time or changing eating habits?
I guess you agree with me that it’s changing habits.
And that requires TIME.
It’s not about doing a super strict diet for one month and then leaves it, and after two months have regained all the weight, or even doubled it, what can also happen.
It’s about learning how to eat better and maintain that way of eating healthier over time.
And in order to maintain it, you’ll have to allow yourself some whims, desires or temptations, whatever you want to call it.
Because if you don’t, you won’t be able to control anxiety when you diet.
Allowing your passions implies that: if you want you to eat it, and if don’t, you don’t. But it ceases to be an uncontrollable reaction, and it’s you who decides.
Moreover, you stop anxiety!
What else can you ask for?
The greatest danger of control, is chaos
If you aren’t convinced yet, I’ll give you one reason more.
Do you know what happens when you try to control food up to unthinkable limits?
That you may lose control and have a binge, it means, eating a big quantity of (sweet, salty or both) food in a very short time.
Because the excess of control brings to the loss of it.
And what if you would have periods of a lot of food restriction followed by binges?
That if it happens during the time, it can generate eating disorders such as Anorexia or nervous bulimia.
So, to control anxiety when you diet, I recommend you to allow yourself some small pleasures in your life, because if you do it, it won’t hurt you but if you refuse it, it can become dangerous.