Don’t Deprive Yourself to Lose Weight
A lot of us think that losing weight goes hand in hand with depriving ourselves. To lose weight, we must restrict what we eat and therefore are depriving ourselves, right?
Feeling deprived is not a sustainable way to lose weight. If you are feeling deprived, you are using will power to stick with your plan. And willpower is a finite resource that will run out.
Here is a secret, feelings of deprivation don’t come from what food we do or don’t eat. Deprivation comes from our thoughts about what we choose to eat. To demonstrate this, think of a situation that you have been in where access to food was limited and you were hungry; examples would be camping, or traveling where you didn’t have control over your food. In this situation, you would probably be happy with (almost) anything that was available to eat. If you took that same food and ate it in your normal life, you would likely be far less satisfied with it.
Picture eating dehydrated backpacking food for an office lunch! On a backpacking trip when you were tired and hungry, it probably tasted great. In the face of your normal food environment, it would be much less appetizing. Whats the difference? The food didn’t change. The only difference is what you are thinking about that food.
Congratulations! This is in Your Control
This is fantastic news! If the only thing that makes us feel deprived about eating on our plan is how we think about our food, that means we can intentionally change how we think and no longer feel deprived. When we think deprivation is caused by the healthier food options or the foods we don’t eat, it means we are not in control. In this mindset, we can’t fix deprivation. We are victims of the food restriction that is required for us to lose weight. And at some point we rebel against it and stop following our eating plan. That’s not what we want!
Instead, let’s build the skill of recognizing how our thoughts create feelings like deprivation and work on purposefully modifying them. This way, we regain control of how we feel about our healthier food options. We aren’t using will power to enjoy the food we eat and we stay in the drivers seat of our own weight loss.
Choose what you want to focus on
I have played the deprivation game more times than I can count. Thinking that I was deprived in my eating led me to abandon or only half commit to many weight loss attempts over my life. Even when I first started following a lower carb diet, I would think about all that delicious bread I could no longer eat. My brain spent a lot of time thinking about the things I was purposefully removing from my diet and was creating feelings of deprivation. Eventually, I got wise. I decided to shift my focus from the things I would no longer eat to all the delicious things I could eat on this way of eating. This has been a game changer! Instead of feeling deprived, I feel lucky. Feeling restricted has become feeling abundant in my food options.
Listen for more tips
This week’s episode on the podcast is my 4 steps to avoid feelings of deprivation. Scroll down to listen in your browser or listen on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.
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