When it comes to lifestyle changes, we need to be able to face setbacks with as much optimism as possible rather falling prey to defeat early on. This is so true in the food world where so many people give up on dieting without realizing how their beliefs are self-sabotaging.

When we have a setback, let’s say a week of uncontrolled eating after doing so well, we have a number of ways to explain what has happened.   One possibility it to blame ourselves, for example, “I have no self-control.”  Saying you have no self-control implies something akin to a personality flaw rather than a temporary state that we find ourselves in from time to time.

A more realistic assessment of lack of self-control might be to recognize it not akin to a personality trait, but something that happens under specific conditions.  I like to borrow a model from Alcoholics Anonymous that describes falling off the wagon under specific conditions – when we are hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.  To make it easy on yourself, remember the acronym, HALT.  Carrying this model around with you helps to analyze slip-ups when watching what we eat rather than laying on the self-blame.  The moral is never let yourself get too hungry, i.e. don’t skip meals, drink plenty of water, and carry healthy snacks with you.

Now up to A in our HALT acronym, the moral is learning not to overreact to emotionally upsetting situations and recognizing that more stress comes from how we react rather than the emotional trigger itself.  Loneliness, the L in HALT, is part of the human condition, which at times we have to come to acknowledge and accept, and at other times take steps toward bettering our situation.  Sometimes this means pushing ourselves into social situations even though our mindset focuses on staying close to home.  Getting out there can be scary, but so much fun at the same time.

And finally, the T in our HALT acronym – tired.  Self-control can sometimes fly out the window when we are exhausted.  And funny thing, the very exhaustion that we are talking about can come from eating foods highly processed with refined sugars and oils, and preservatives.  These are the foods that when eaten in excess are energy-depleting so the more that we consume foods high in nutrition, which translates as close to nature as possible, the more likely we will show self-control with food.

Just some food for thought….

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

Photo: June Rousso