Dieting – what makes us fall off the wagon?

There are a number of things that trigger falling off the wagon: 1) Family; 2) Events; 3) Stress; 4) The Time of the Month; 5) Complacency; 6) Curiosity; 7) Boredom; 8) Habits; 9) Holidays; 10) Treats; 11) Illness; 12) Not getting success. 1) Family: This one comes up again and again and we addressed many of the issues in Diet & Health Today 9 where we looked at the family background connections as to why we see sweets as treats. We also looked at family for the Christmas survival guide in Diet & Health Today 16 . Diet & Health Today 5 also introduced the psychology behind childhood and esteem with the “Four Pillars of Childhood”. This is always worth a look back to. The headline of the problem is the elders in our family. (It is UNlikely that any family members younger than us have the audacity to think that they can tell us what to eat – not impossible, but less likely than the elders). Our parents, maybe even grandparents and/or older siblings, will have been our feeders for the formative years of our life and many, if not most, feeders don’t seem to want to let go of this role. Parents would have thought they knew what was best for us – the trouble is – they probably still think this. The other interesting dimension that we often see is in-laws. Marrying someone seems to give their parents the right to tell you and their ‘child’ how to eat. As many wives in the club experience – mother-in-law especially often continues ‘her right’ to manage the feeding of her son by telling you how you should be feeding him. From what we’ve seen, all of you who have experienced this deserve an award for restraint and reasonableness! Given that our whole philosophy is about going back to the way in which our elders ate, you would think that our enthusiasm for real food would be embraced. However, the revised dietary guidelines for Americans came out in 1977 and those for the UK came out in 1983 and people who were in their 20’s-50’s at these times do appear to have been convinced by the U-Turns that the governments of the time made. The key message that people have taken on board is that fat is bad for us. Conversely this generation also took on board the idea that we should be eating carbs at each meal – cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta/rice/potatoes with the main meal. There is only one end in mind here – to not allow family members, yours or your partners, to derail your healthy eating commitment. Some tips for achieving this are: a) Not seeing them, or not seeing them at meal times, or inviting them to you, rather than you going there, so that you can serve what you want. b) In the likely event that you can’t avoid situations involving food and you know that the topic is likely to be raised, the three routes open are ignore, attack, defend and I personally would probably choose those in order. i) To ignore is very empowering for you and very infuriating for the other person. As MIL tries to engage you in a “My darling Freddie should be having cereal, not bacon & eggs” kind of conversation, just ignore the comment completely. Smile sweetly if necessary – you never have to be drawn into debate. If asked directly (unlikely) “Did you hear what I said?” you can simply say “Yes”. This is the path of least resistance and actually it will feel surprisingly comfortable if you choose this option. ii) To attack does not have to be aggressive – it should come in the form of gentle questioning – always questions to which you know the answer but suspect that they don’t. Where do you get the idea that fat is bad? When did you change from thinking that meat, butter and eggs were good for us? What is the main fat in meat and eggs? Do you know the nutrition of eggs vs. cereal? Do you know how margarine is made? Do you know why we say 5-a-day? Attacks, even gentle ones, make someone defend and – if they’re defending – they’re no longer attacking you. If they do attack back – you’ve got the facts and common sense on your side. iii) Defending would be my least preferred option – as soon as you find yourself justifying why you eat the way you do, why you feed your family the way you do etc – you stay on the defensive and are vulnerable to attack. What you put in your body, once you are some age in your teens and able to make informed choices, is none of anyone else’s business. It is completely understandable, therefore, to feel outraged when someone tries to tell you how to eat or how to feed your family. If you want their view, you can ask for it! All the ammunition you need to attack, or defend, is in “The Obesity Epidemic” – the most common themes (eggs, cholesterol etc) are frequent club threads also. The final few thoughts on this one are: - I may have mentioned this before but one of the best bits of advice I was ever given (by a teacher when I was in the 6th form) was “only care about the opinion of those people whom you care about.” Hopefully the opinion and support of your partner and family matters and is there. If any family members are as narrow minded as most public health diet advisors, then you cannot value their opinion and therefore it cannot matter to you what they think. - I do find it quite ironic that our elders therefore rejected the eating advice of their elders, when this change in government dietary advice came about, but they expect us not to reject their advice! (The cheekier amongst you may consider pointing this out!) - The bottom line is – if you let the family saboteurs get to you, they have won if they destroy your commitment. Don’t let them win – make each attack and comment make you more determined than ever to look the picture of health and natural weight when you next see them. 2) Events: This seems to be an issue more for people in the early stages of The Harcombe Diet. It doesn’t seem to take regulars long before they become a dab hand at events. Most people come to realise that many events are actually easier for low carbers than low calorie dieters. We covered the most challenging event, Christmas, in great detail in Diet & Health Today 16. Other events tend to be weddings; an all inclusive buffet; dinner parties; work dinners – that covers the common challenges. Weddings we have covered here and the all inclusive buffet is covered here.

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