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When you start a diet, you have good intentions. You know what to eat, when to eat, and how much you should eat. With this amount of precision then, why aren’t you seeing the results you were hoping for?
If you find yourself in this situation, you might be a yo-yo dieter. It’s easy to blame binge eating for episodes of defeat, but for the most part, self-sabotage is much less obvious. A more effective strategy is to notice the triggers that make you overeat.
Here are eleven such triggers that could ruin your dieting strategy:
1. You’re outnumbered and overwhelmed
It’s difficult to nibble on a salad as you gather at a family meal or go out to a restaurant with your friends. You’re outnumbered. You’re alone with your intention, completely without support. You may even catch a look of pity from someone piling food onto their plate. Or you might be subject to some playful ribbing as you’re trying to resist delicious aromas and the sight of forbidden foods.
The solution: Fill yourself with low calorie foods so that you don’t feel hungry.
2. Change your crockery
In restaurants it’s fashionable to have large dinner plates. The trend has spread to domestic cutlery. Eating your correct proportion of food for the meal looks small and insufficient on a big plate.
The solution: Use smaller crockery, such as a side plate.
3. You’re feeling lonely, tired, and unloved
Since childhood, we’ve associated food with love. We see food as a treat and as a way of getting extra attention. In some countries, hosts feel insulted if you decline a meal or only eat a small amount. As a result, we seek comfort food when we’re feeling a little vulnerable.
The solution: change the food you associate with comfort foods. Substitute snack food for healthy food.
4. You’re in an emotional crisis
Something has happened or failed to happen and you’re feeling crushed by it. You want some pleasant stimulus. Perhaps some donuts will help you forget your misery.
The solution: Seek a legitimate solution to your crisis. For instance, you can call a friend and discuss the issues with them to get some perspective. If it’s a major life event, then visit a counselor. Instead of stuffing down your feelings, get to the core of the crisis.
5. You’re at a party
Wine and beer are everywhere at parties and also happen to be high in calories. Even if you resist the alcohol, you’re left with high-calorie sodas. Unhealthy beverages also whet your appetite for salty and fatty snacks.
The solution: Recognize that your internal mechanism for recognizing when you’re full is turned off right now. Either refrain from alcohol, limit your drinks, or match your alcoholic consumption with good old-fashioned water. Also go for the healthy snack choices available.
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6. You’re stressed out from work
When you’re stressed, you tend to drink alcoholic beverages and reach for comfort food. A carbohydrate-rich meal calms and relaxes you.
The solution: Find healthy alternatives to heal the core issue. For instance, try stress management techniques to change your mood.
7. You don’t have much time to eat at your job
You have a job that requires you to eat fast—perhaps you work on a shop floor. You have only a small window of opportunity before the next customer shows up. You try to stuff yourself because you don’t know when you will be able to grab another meal.
The solution: The best solution is to get a better job. But if you have to snack, eat a protein bar or nuts and seeds.
8. You’ve given up on your diet
You broke your diet one too many times and now feel that it’s a hopeless cause. You’ve gone back to your familiar eating habits.
The solution: Find a diet that’s easier to follow. Perhaps you’re on a diet that clashes with your lifestyle, so choose another that is easier to manage.
9. You can’t take it anymore
You’re someone who likes the finer things in life, like gourmet meals. Grilled tofu and salads tossed in vinegar and olive oil depresses you. After a few days of bland food, you’re ready to quit.
The solution: The idea of a diet is not to make you miserable. There are many healthy food substitutes for tasty meals, so branch and find healthy recipes that make you excited for your next meal. Trust us, they exist.
10. You’ll wait for a better day
Now is never the right time for anything worth doing.
The solution: There is no perfect day for anything. You have to pick a day and start regardless of other events. You can do it!
11. You’re bored
You’re bored and the idea of some tasty snack is attractive.
The Solution: While boredom can be a drag, eating to have something to do is not the way to go. Fill up slow times in your day with educational or recreational activities, not with food.