Diet Tips and Self-Criticism

23 Jan


Let’s face it. It’s almost unavoidable to overindulge during holiday seasons. When partying with friends and family members, it’s hard and almost borderline rude to resist all the tempting treats and scrumptious meals passing before our very eyes and olfactory sensitivities. It’s amazing how we tend to get caught up in the moment and somehow rationalize to ourselves that it’s okay to dip into yet another bite or helping. The only trouble is that after all the fun and laughs are over, we wind up berating ourselves for once again eating too much! The self-admonishments and beratings reach a real pinnacle when we notice how the notch on our favorite belt is suddenly too tight or when the waistband of a skirt or pair of pants becomes unusually snug. Forget even braving the scale – it might be too much of a blow to our vanity and self-respect.

Well, to learn from our lessons this past holiday season and to get the new year off to a great start, be aware that when you are beating yourself up, you are engaging in self-criticism, and the exchange you are having can either be empowering or cripplingly self-destructive.

Step back for a minute and ask yourself, “How do I know if I am using self-criticism as an asset?” For starters, reflect on some of the occasions where you overindulged and then followed that with a round of self-criticism. Think about whether after the exchange with yourself – where you were both the giver and receiver of criticism – did you walk away feeling hopeful and with a plan in place, or did you feel beaten down and disgusted? Did you do anything differently when attending the next festive event? Fast forward to now; are you continuing to stick to your plan?

After considering these questions, if you are feeling discouraged and disappointed with yourself and wanting to give up – don’t! You can learn to be your own best friend and use self-criticism to propel you into action by recognizing that it’s a skill. To begin learning the skill, be aware that it’s okay to beat yourself up, but always make sure that you walk away with a plan of action that is specific and one you are committed to following. No kidding – always have a plan in place. Never walk away dismissing the whole thing in the hopes that it will somehow turn out positively. What’s important is that you have your plan in place BEFORE you go to the next dinner event and get tempted by all the fun and excitement that’s surrounding you.

While this next tip may sound familiar, it’s still a worthwhile tip to implement. After all, it’s not enough to know what to do – it’s doing it on a consistent basis that counts! So, before sitting down to eat, plan on only eating half of what is on your plate – and that includes dessert! To fill in the extra time, sip water – as much as you want. As a back-up plan, in between sips of water, check out your stomach. Once you start to feel full – that’s it! You are done! After all, we sometimes forget all the hors d’oeuvres we’ve eaten beforehand! The secret to successfully implementing this plan requires keeping your brain engaged before engaging your stomach and taste buds. However, if you are the type whose brain cells stop firing at the smell or sight of food, then you’ll need to come up with a plan that will work when your resolve first begins to weaken . For instance, if you happen to be at a restaurant, you may find it helpful to ask your waiter when he or she first arrives that you want to have your plate removed as soon as you are half done – even if you throw a fit! If you are at a friend’s house, this becomes a little tricky! You may have to rely on yourself!

Here’s a perspective that is often overlooked. Those who are at their desired weight work at it – very few people have the type of metabolism that allows them to eat everything in sight and still keep their figure! The notion that you have to consistently work at it, whether you are overweight or at your ideal weight, came as a big surprise for one of my friends who was, at the time, struggling to lose 50lbs. She thought those who were considered thin were that way naturally. Not so! Having a plan in place in advance of eating, and sticking to that plan is what’s common. It’s not a secret. It’s just that it’s rarely disclosed. In other words, when we use the expression, “maintaining your proper weight” it’s exactly what these people are doing. The verb ‘maintain’ means “by work and exertion!” Everyone works at it…all year round! Okay, maybe you can let up a little while on vacation! But, giving yourself permission to go a bit overboard should always have time limits and amount limits that don’t go beyond your own sense of overindulgence. By following these self-imposed rules you will always operate with self-respect and YEAH! be trim to boot!!!

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).



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