How Do I Get Back on the Wagon After Cheating on My Diet?
Whenever I get asked this question, I get the feeling that the person asking me feels like they’re unique in their inability to either stick to a diet or else get back on it after falling off.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Over the past year, I’ve been pretty good, but if you’d follow me around all the time, you’d see that I still eat things I shouldn’t and still spiral just a little bit.
I’m much better than most people I know, but that’s partially because I’ve spent quite a few years really focusing on getting my diet and health in order. At some point, it became important enough for me that I made it a priority.
I won’t name any names, but I will say that I know a lot of bloggers – including Paleo bloggers – who eat far less healthy than you probably think. And they binge-eat a ton more than you know.
But here’s the thing – I say that without any criticism whatsoever. We all think that falling off the wagon and binge-eating is a failure. That we weren’t good enough or strong enough.
Unfortunately, that’s often what causes us to binge-eat and what makes it harder for us to get started again.
I’m not trying to oversimplify this – there are a lot of reasons we eat the ways we do, including stress, emotions, environment, psychology, physiology, etc. But being hard on ourselves is a very big one.
Everything starts with not feeling like you’re in a fight against yourself. When most people diet (including me, up until about a year ago), they feel like they’re battling temptation and cravings, which means they feel like they’re fighting themselves and the food that they see in front of them. That’s not a good relationship with food or with yourself.
And if you have that sort of outlook, then when you “cheat” or “slip-up”, you feel like you’ve failed and have lost the fight. Once you feel that way, it’s easy to give up and just let the cravings and temptation keep “winning.”
The alternative (which takes time to fully believe) is simply to believe that you’re working with your body and with food to make yourself feel and look better. it sounds silly to you right now, probably, because you think it won’t “work” or that it won’t prevent you from eating cookies. And you’re right. It’s not going to “work” and it won’t prevent you from eating all cookies.
But once you start thinking about working with your body and with food, then you look at everything you do in a different light. When you see a cookie, you make a decision. In that moment, you make the best decision you can for yourself, your body, and your future. Sometimes you eat the cookie, and sometimes you don’t. And in retrospect, you’ll observe that decision and decide if it’s the best one you could have made.
If it’s not, you don’t beat yourself up about it, because you made the best decision in that moment. But you do use that information to move forward and keep making good decisions.
If this sounds “woo-woo” to you, then I completely understand. But it works. For me, now, I enjoy eating more than I ever have, I’m less stressed about it, and I make decisions that are much better for me and my body.
Again, though, it takes time. It’s not something that happens overnight or even in a week or a month. Trust me, though, it’s worth it.