Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. I have to admit I’m not particularly religious and I don’t pay much attention but it occurred to me that for many of you trying to lose weight the idea of giving up chocolate for an extended period may seem attractive. However, I would highly recommend that you don’t.
It needn’t be chocolate, you could insert any food of your choosing but for the purposes of this blog I will talk about chocolate. However, if you ban a food substance you are likely to spend the next 6 weeks dreaming of it, wishing you could eat it and noticing whenever anyone else eats it too. You will build up chocolate into the most desired substance in the world and you will imagine what it will be like when you are finally allowed to eat it.
Bearing in mind that Easter and all its associated chocolate egg related products finishes off the period of lent, it is highly likely to end in disaster!
By all this imagining and dreaming and visualising you are doing you are setting a new pathway and habit into your brain. Just as we use visualisation in NLP and hypnotherapy strategies to instill better habits, so you will be doing something very similar but to instill a worse habit. You are imagining how fantastic it will be to binge eat on something, which is not good.
If you do have a religious reason for giving up something for Lent, I’m not suggesting you don’t, I just suggest you think carefully about what it is and what the repercussions will be afterwards.
You see, I work with women who have chocolate ‘addictions’ and I have clients who come to me wanting to give it up. Personally, I don’t help them to do that because I believe that eating chocolate is not bad, provided you eat it in moderation. This, I can help them with.
All foods can be enjoyed in moderation. The key to long-term weight management is not to give anything up but to learn to enjoy foods and eat a healthy balance. To always enjoy the food you do eat and to know that you can stop at any time and eat it again at any time, if you really want it. It prevents the deprivation / binge cycle which is what leads to weight gain.
My clients learn to eat a piece of chocolate every now and again and to be able to leave the rest in the cupboard without it driving them to distraction, knowing it is there. They learn that chocolate does not control them, that they are in control and can enjoy the odd piece or bar from time to time with no guilt. They learn to eat chocolate in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet. In fact they learn to regulate their own eating habits without feeling deprived whilst increasing their intake of fresh foods and reducing their intake of processed and ‘junk’ foods.