This is the classic attitude problem that plagues dieters. It involves viewing the world and dieting, as either; right or wrong, perfect or terrible, good or bad, friend or foe, legal or illegal. I see this in nearly every dieter I work with.

Here are some examples. You might have six straight days in which you meet your calorie level and then splurge the seventh day by eating cake and boosting your calorie total to 2000. The common response would be “I really blew it now, I am off my diet”. Notice the phrase “off the diet.” This is the unrealistic view that you are either perfect or terrible, that you are either on or off a diet. This is where the term “Light Bulb Thinking” was born- because a light bulb is either on or off. Please refer to our “Dimmer Switch” article.

The danger in this is the despair that you feel about making inevitable mistakes. Having 2000 calories is insignificant in your total calories for a week, a month or a year. However, your reaction to those calories can be devastating. If you feel guilty and depressed, the likely response to soothe the feelings is eating.

Another example is the tendency for dieters to classify food as good or bad, dietetic or fattening, and legal and illegal. The specific foods that are good or bad vary from person to person. For you, ice cream might be the illegal food, but for another person it might be corn chips, beer, donuts, potato chips, or fast food. Unrealistic thinking occurs when you slip and feel you have blown the program. A slight transgression can send you off your diet.

It is essential that you be aware of your unrealistic thoughts. Have you made internal rules about foods that you can and cannot eat; a calorie level that you “must” maintain; things that you must do to stay “on the diet”, or your own ideas what constitute proper dieting? Notice how you feel when you violate the rules. Negative feelings usually indicate unrealistic thinking.

You can contend with unrealistic thinking by talking back to yourself. You realize how illogical it is to feel terrible for one slip or to make rules whereby eating some type of food throws you off your diet.

In the spaces below, write down your most common unrealistic thoughts and write a counter statement for each. You can then be prepared in advance when the fat thoughts occur.


My Fat Thoughts                                             My Realistic Thoughts

______________________                        _________________________

______________________                        _________________________

______________________                       _________________________

_____________________                          _________________________

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