“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” was a campaign slogan many years ago for an antacid company. The woman in the commercial was bloated, uncomfortable, and very sorry she had eaten so much. If you are trying to lose weight, you’ve probably had times when you totally regret how much you ate. If you experience regular episodes of regretful eating, consider this: You will rarely be sorry for saying, “No” to excess food. In fact, learning to turn down unnecessary or unhealthy foods is a great skill to have for long-term weight maintenance.
Regretful Eating Defined
Regretful eating is a term I came up with after I finally lost all my weight. It means being sorry, or regretful, for eating certain foods or a large amount of food.
Here are two real life examples of regretful eating:
You are sitting at home watching television at night. A commercial for ice cream comes on and you start thinking about ice cream. Instead of reminding yourself that you’re done eating for the day, you get off the couch and head for the kitchen. There’s no ice cream in the freezer but there are some cookies for your kid’s lunch. You eat one, then another, and before you know it – you’ve had five or six. You immediately regret having cookies you didn’t even like or want.
You and a few of your friends are out for dinner after a rough day at the office. At first, you had good intentions of ordering a salad and fish but after hearing everyone else’s orders, you decide to go for the fried sampler platter and a dessert. After all, you deserve it. As you head home, you are sorry you didn’t stick to your original plan and have something that fit with your diet.
The cure for regretful eating isn’t to internally berate yourself and make yourself feel bad for eating too much or eating foods you don’t want. That doesn’t do you any good.
The cure is simple. You’ve got to harness the power of saying, “No.”
Regretful eating may stem from emotions, habits, or the pressure of social situations. Regardless of the cause, you can stop experiencing the regret of bad decisions by learning to say, “No.”
It’s not easy but it’s a surefire way to fix regretful eating and a skill you get better at over time.
When faced with tempting food, you have a few choices.
1. You can eat as much as you want.
2. You can turn down the food completely.
3. You can have a small portion and then walk away.
All of these choices require a decision. Number one is probably going to make you sorry later, while two and three are healthier choices.
To avoid choosing number one, tell yourself, “No, I’m not going to pig out right now. There is nothing so special about that food that it’s worth blowing my diet for.” And then if it doesn’t stick the first time, repeat that phrase to yourself again.
You’ll Rarely Be Sorry
I was much more sorry for overeating than I ever was for making healthier choices and telling myself, “No.” In fact, I can’t think of a time when I regretted making the healthier selection.
At the end of the day, food you choose to reject one day will still be there the next day. You can always have it later when you are in the mindset of making a more careful and deliberate choice.