Diet failures are something many of us know intimately and experience every so often. Everything’s going great, you’re eating your seven servings of fruit and veggies and doing your five mile morning run, and then one day, you let go.
Maybe you’re tired, or you had a bad day. Whatever it is that sets you off, you head to the kitchen for a little snack—and before you know it, you’ve eaten about as much as a hot dog eating champion, possibly more. Your stomach hurts, but mostly it’s your mind that suffers. Thoughts of failure cloud your judgement, and you feel weak and unworthy of anything.
We all have those moments, some more than others, but you can’t let them define you. You can’t let the waves of depression that come over you engulf you whole, and the tide suck you deeper and deeper into the murky sea, until you can’t even see the shore.
I won’t pretend that I’m an expert at dealing with bad diet days, but as a long time sufferer of eating disorders, I do know a thing or two about the more effective ways in which you can get over them.
1. Think of the (realistic) worst-case scenario
Look in the mirror after your binge. Do your hips look bigger? Are your thighs thicker? Do your love handles look more pronounced? Probably not. The truth is, even after all the food in your stomach digests, you will still look pretty much the same as you did before this disastrous fall back. Worst comes to worst, you’ll gain a couple pounds. Even if this does happen, there’s no point in falling into hysterics and exaggerating. An all or nothing attitude can only make you more likely to binge again, and that’s what really sets you back.
2. Do everything as it should be done
Remember your to-do list. Did you plan on doing the laundry? Walking the dog? Vacuuming? Do it all, no matter how awful you feel. Sure, you’ve broken the rules in terms of your diet, but that doesn’t mean you should let yourself go completely. After the pain in your stomach subsides, you’ll be glad you’ve accomplished so much, and regain some of your past dignity. Soon you will get back into the swing of things, and everything, including your diet, can be back in check.
3. Play detective
Like a sleuth, study yourself. Think about everything in your life leading up to this moment. Try to find the spark that set you off, be it emotional or physical. Have you been under a lot of stress? Have you been skimping on sleep? Have you been eating enough? All these factors can contribute to a diet failure. So, once you’ve calmed down, think about what it is in your life that hasn’t been going the way it should, and try to find a solution to it. A balanced life can cure any issue, food related or not.
It might seem counterintuitive, but if you just relax and stop overthinking every dietary choice you make, you could have fewer trip ups. Especially after a bad day, you shouldn’t pressure yourself to exercise even more or eat even less than usual to make up for the calories. That’s another stress-induced binge waiting to happen. Instead, let go of all your diet ideas and live by one rule—to eat for nourishment. Set your day up so you have time for three solid meals, and make the most out of those meals by eating quality foods. Forget calories and focus on satiety. Thus, you can gradually lose the couple pounds you may have gained, and slowly return to stable eating patterns.
Because we live in the land of plenty, and because of the social pressures that are present in our society, our relationship with food can be tumultuous. We want to be able to stick to a strict regimen—and when we fail, we punish ourselves harshly. But life is full of setbacks, and we’re not perfect. A diet fail can lead you into the darkest pit of depression if you let it—but it can also be treated as an insignificant bump in the road. Ultimately, the choice is yours to make.