Friday, 8 April 2011

Dieting 'mistakes' and a little tough love

The helpful advice on the internet is now focusing on ‘Your Dieting Mistakes’. These include; missing meals, skipping carbs, eating less, not exercising, ‘all or nothing’ mentality, keeping ‘forbidden foods’ in the house and not avoiding ‘traps’ like cake shops on the way to work ...

I personally think that the first big mistake is to go on a diet! And I’m delighted that none of this is relevant to me any more (apart from the exercise bit, but that’s another blog!), but I know from personal experience and also from the conversations on the Beyond Chocolate Forum, that some of the same issues arise for many of us as we work with the principles. So over the next couple of blog posts, I’ll have a look at some of the more common Beyond Chocolate ‘Mistakes’, and what we can do about them instead ... stand by for some Tough Love!

Mistake number one: Assuming that it’s not going to work.
Let’s face it; Beyond Chocolate is a pretty revolutionary idea. For the last 40 odd years women have looked in one direction only for how to manage their eating – the diet industry has had a field day. It’s become almost expected for women to start a diet before weddings (their own and other people’s), in time for ‘bikini season’, before and after major events that involve a lot of eating (Easter and Christmas), and sometimes just because a friend wants to do a diet and has asked for support.

There is a growing movement in the States and over here that is challenging the notion that dieting is the best way to manage over-eating and/or lose weight etc and Beyond Chocolate is in the vanguard of that movement. However, it will take time to change attitudes and stop women from turning instantly to dieting, rather than investigating the alternatives.

Almost no-one (apart from Beyond Chocolaters!) will start a diet assuming it’s not going to work, so why begin Beyond Chocolate assuming it won’t work? Perhaps having a clearer idea of what you want from Beyond Chocolate at the outset might help with that feeling that ‘it’s not working because I haven’t lost weight.’ Why not turn it around and say, ‘It is working because ...’ and look at your successes rather than your perceived ‘failures’. For example, do you sometimes eat when you are hungry instead of always at meal times? Do you respond to your body’s request for a particular food? Do you buy clothes you like regardless of the size on the label? Do you exercise because you enjoy it rather than because it might help you lose weight? All of these are successes and can be celebrated.

Of course, at the end of the day, if what you really want is to lose weight, you may have to be prepared to either work consistently with the principles and/or wait while your body processes this new change in your eating habits. Remember how long it took you to reach this point – how long you’ve been dieting/bingeing – it could well take time to turn it around again. Diets promise dramatic weight loss in less and less time – Beyond Chocolate offers a way to completely free us from yo-yo dieting hell, and I personally am prepared to wait for as long as it takes.


  1. Great idea Gretel. I look forward to your other posts! I have realised I've been making a HUGE mistake. If you've made it too, please write about it. I've been expecting not to have to work very hard (at all?!) on the 'listen to your body/satiety levels' front. I thought that by just eating what I fancied, I would stop when I had enough. Not so. It takes a LOT of awareness and courage and, therefore, mental energy to stop. I thought stopping, even just pausing, would be easy, and worse, would not be necessary. How wrong I was. I've learned this lesson the hard way - I've put on a few pounds/my trousers don't fit so well (I haven't weighed myself for a year).

    The other mistake I made was to think that 'I am above all this dieting stuff, I don't need to make any efforts, I'll show you. All you have to do is listen to your body and eat whatever you want/need whenever you want/need'. I now realise that the 'stopping when you've had enough' is key to losing weight, and that in order to do this, you DO have to make a HUGE effort. So no, I'm not above all this dieting stuff - I too have to make some kind of effort. The great news, though, is that I don't have to think about what I'm going to eat at breakfast, lunch and dinner as soon as I wake up, I don’t have to remind myself how little that will have to be, I don’t have to wonder what I'm going to do if/when I'm hungry but 'am not allowed to eat' etc. The effort I have to make, though huge, ‘only’ involves two things: being aware of my gremlins and shoe them away, and being aware of why I’m eating and how, in order to stop when I’ve had enough. Oh, and a third thing: actually STOP when I have had enough! This is the key, but I can’t do it without the first two being in place. (At least not a lot of the time…)

    I don’t want to make the mistake of believing that this is not a tall order. It is. But this is liberating, whereas dieting is like an imprisonment.

  2. Good post and GREAT comment. The part where Truffle identified the courage needed to not overeat really resonates with me. Thank you both.

  3. Thank you Rachel. Yes, the courage to do something different, to BE different, to change, which involves a whole lot more than just shedding a few pounds, or even many. This is what we get to realise with Beyond Chocolate, but not at all with ANY of the diets out there.

    We overeat to be true to one part of ourselves. If we want to stop overeating, we need to be true to another part of ourselves, and it takes courage and perseverance to become that person wholly (even though we THINK we desperately want to become that person!).

    To diet, we need willpower. To stop overeating and become that other person we want to become, we need courage.

  4. Excellent comments, thank you! You are right, Truffle - one of the mistakes is to think that it's going to be easier than dieting - again, that's not necessarily 'wrong' but it can be misleading. I think I may be covering this later - but if not, would you like to?!

  5. Yes, I'd love to post here every now and again!!

  6. Yep - my big mistake was thinking that I had to lose weight in order to have the life I wanted. Stuff that! I went out and got the life anyway.
    I don't focus on weight loss at all, I'm not interested in either what the scales say or the size of my jeans.

    I care about my health, so I eat mainly good food and I take regular exercise. My weight tells me nothing useful about my health, so I ignore it :)

  7. It's really great reading the post and the comments. I did Beyond Chocolate 3.5 years ago and it is only since the beginning of the year that I fully realise what it is to have eaten enough and feel full - so it's been a gradual process. Prior to that I'd had 35 years of on and off dieting and having no idea what I wanted to eat but lots of rules about what I couldn't eat!

    I still make 'mistakes' but then I listen to my body again. For the first time in my life I know what it feels like to actually not want food when I 'ought' to be having a meal. I now eat when I'm hungry and don't when I'm not. And this morning at my six monthly check up with my doctor I discovered that I've lost 2kgs in the last six months - and I certainly wasn't trying!

  8. Excellent - your comments show that Beyond Chocolate DOES work, but that it can take time to reverse the years of diet damage. Keep up the good work!

  9. Truffle - please email me a I'd like to take you up on your request to write about the 'mistakes' that you feel you've made - I'd like to quote from your post, so please let me know if that's ok.

  10. This is such an interesting thread.
    I read beyond chocolate almost 2 years ago, and I am so much better at all the priniciples, but still some work to go.
    I haven't lost an awful lot of weight but I have gained so much.
    I haven't weighed myself in about a year, but I know I have stayed the same because I am in the same clothes. Some people may say that beyond chocolate hasn't been a success for me but I disagree. I wake up every day, not thinking about my weight, not worrying what I might eat or not eat each day. I spend the vast majority of the day not thinking that I might change any part of myself, and that is freedom.

    My weight tends to go down during hot summers. We haven't had a hot summer for a few years, which is the main reason my weight is static. I am happy to be patient and wait for that heatwave and go down a dress size due to reduced appetite. Until then I will happily stay at the size I am, in a relaxed fashion getting on with my life!

    I do agree also that it takes time to reverse old habits. Nobody can expect to pick up this book and expect instant changes to their attitude or weight. I spent 19 years overeating and then another 13 years in the diet/binge cycle, and zero years of normal eating, so i expect my journey to normal to take more time, but its a wonderful journey and I feel so sorry for the millions of people who are starting a diet on monday and quitting by the end of the week, only to start another diet 'properly' on monday. It makes me feel very sad.

    Sarah, Guildford


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