Monday, May 5, 2008


I was driving along listening to music on the radio when a commercial came on. I decided to change stations and in my search for another song I came to NPR. The speaker was a woman [an author talking about her book - I don't remember the name] and the topic was weight loss. She was discussing how before a person starts a diet, she works with them for 2 weeks helping them with coping strategies to use when they start dieting and feel hungry [both physical and emotional]. She said it was really important for a person to know how to deal with feelings of hunger. She also said that she tells her clients to eat breakfast one day and don't eat again until dinner. This helps a person remember what true hunger is and also helps them realize that hunger is ok, that it doesn't kill you and that it actually waxes and weins She said that lots of obese people forget what hungry feels like.

Anyway, the one thing she explained to the interviewer that really resonated with me was the "No Choice" rule. I don't remember her exact words, but she explained it something like this.... you don't have a choice about brushing your teeth or going to school or work or stopping at a red light. These things must be done. Well, where food is concerned, you need to tell yourself just that. That you have no choice. She gave an example. A client of hers loves cheese and it is extremely hard for her to not eat it when she is around it [like at parties and such]. This client told herself that she had "no choice" when it came to cheese. This was a food that she was not allowed to eat. Now when she goes to parties or functions or restaurants and there is cheese on the table or in the dish she just tells herself, No. She has no choice. There is no compromise. There is no negotiating. There is just NO. Perhaps down the road she will be able to go back and eat cheese, but the lessons learned from this are two fold. First, she learns that she is stronger than her desires. She relearns that she is in control and that food doesn't control her. Second, she begins to believe in herself again. By saying no and not eating cheese, she can forgive herself for all those times when she swore that she would start her diet, or wouldn't eat this, or would exercise every day, etc. With this rule, she was able to say no and stick with it. And I guess there is a third lesson. Maybe she realized that she really didn't need cheese in her life, that food tasted just as good without it. We get so used to eating things one way, that sometimes it's hard to leave out the mayo or the bread crumbs or the butter or the cheese.

Perhaps some of you will think this is a little extreme. I think maybe it is, but I also know that my self control isn't always controllable and sometimes when I lose it, I lose it big. If there were a food or food group that I had a very hard time with, this No Choice rule may just work. Isn't this what the Atkins diet is all about? He said you can eat this and are not allowed to eat that. For some people, "diet rules" really help. I say if your in a bad spot right now and not happy with the way you are eating, perhaps this is for you. Pick a food or pick a food group and go for it. But, and this is a biggie, don't set yourself up for failure. Pick something that is attainable. If chocolate is your thing, don't use the No Choice rule for everything with sugar. Figure out if it's chocolate bars or chocolate ice cream or chocolate cookies and just start with that one thing. If you can prove to yourself that you can do this with that one food, maybe you can pick another and go from there. If your eating and/or weight is out of control, give it a shot.... you have No Choice.

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