Volume 3, Issue 3

Winter 2011


Holiday Newsletter 

From Dr. Judith Beck

Welcome to the Beck Diet Solution Newsletter- Holiday Edition! We know that holidays can make dieting and healthy eating more difficult so we've packed this newsletter with many tips and techniques to help dieters maintain control throughout the holiday season.  We believe that, in general, people should eat in relatively the same way regardless of the time of year, so we're committed to helping people learn how to do this.  Happy Holidays!

From Deborah Beck Busis, LSW

While the holiday season is often touted as the "happiest time of the year," we know that it is often not the happiest time for dieters' waistlines.  During the holidays dieters may have many additional temptations and stressors, which can lead to an influx of sabotaging thoughts.  In our work with dieters we help them figure out what types of thougths they are likely to have in certain situations and how they can respond to them effectively in the moment (see articles below).  We also help dieters keep in mind all of the reasons why it's worth it to them to maintain control and how much better they feel when they do.  Although it may be more difficult to stay in control during the holiday season, it is by no means impossible and we've never yet had a dieter say to us, "I wish I had gained more weight during the holidays!"

Thanksgiving Roleplay 

In this demonstration video, Dr. Judith Beck helps a dieter plan for her Thanksgiving meal. They discuss obstacles that might get in the way, and prepare responses for each one, so the dieter can have a happy, and successful, Thanksgiving:
Beck Diet Solution - Thanksgiving Roleplay
Thanksgiving Roleplay

In This Issue
From Dr. Judith Beck
From Deborah Beck Busis, LSW
Thanksgiving Roleplay
Top 5 Thanksgiving Sabotaging Thoughts
Ask the Diet Program Coordinator: Holiday Help
Best of Facebook - Holiday Edition
We Want to Hear from You!
CDs, DVDs and more >>

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Top 5 Thanksgiving Sabotaging Thoughts

Why is Thanksgiving so difficult for dieters? In part it's because of the (customarily) huge meal that is served and in part it's because of their sabotaging thinking about the Thanksgiving meal. We remind our dieters that the good news is that eating is not automatic, and ultimately they are in charge of every single bite of food they eat. This means that they have control over whether they lose, gain, or maintain their weight during and after Thanksgiving, but often it takes some work to help them exercise this control confidently and consistently. Here are the top five Thanksgiving sabotaging thoughts that we hear from our dieters and helpful responses to them.


Sabotaging Thought #1: If I don't get to eat everything on the table, I'll feel really deprived.

Response: If I keep telling myself that I'm going to feel deprived, then I definitely will. Instead of concentrating on the things I'm not eating, I need to focus on enjoying what I am eating. Think about it this way: Either way I'm going to be deprived. Either I'm going to be deprived of SOME (not all) of the Thanksgiving food, or I'm going to be deprived of everything on my Advantages List, like feeling confident, improving my health, being more fit and active, fitting into old clothes, etc. Which would be the bigger deprivation?


Sabotaging Thought #2: I don't need to have a plan going into the Thanksgiving meal; I'll just plan to do my best.

Response: When has not having a plan ever helped me to stay in control of my eating and lose weight and keep it off? Not having a plan is a recipe for overeating and I need to stop fooling myself into thinking that it's okay to not have one. I don't necessarily need to plan every bite that I'm going to eat, but I should have a strong general plan of basically how much I'm going to consume of certain foods, drinks, and desserts. This way if I am tempted to keep eating, I can just remind myself, "Sorry, it's not on your plan. Stick to what you had planned to eat and guaranteed once the holiday is over you will be so glad you did, especially when you get on the scale tomorrow morning. Having a plan will make it so much easier for me to stay in control and since I want to get all of the Advantages on my list, it's absolutely worth it to me to do so."


Sabotaging Thought #3: If I have to watch what I'm eating I won't have a good time.

Response: I have proved to myself over and over again that if I maintain control of my eating, I always feel better and I am never sorry for doing so. If I overeat, I will end up feeling sick and guilty like I have in the past. Food always tastes better when I don't have to feel guilty about eating it, so l know that if I continue to watch what I'm eating and control myself, I'll actually get to enjoy myself more both during AND after Thanksgiving.

 Stomach Ache

Sabotaging Thought #4: I won't have a good time if I can't eat and drink
like everyone else.

Response: I need to remember that I have changed my definition of "normal" eating and my new normal is eating like someone who is trying to lose weight and keep it off. Just because I may not be able to eat everything I want, in whatever quantity I want, does not mean that I can't enjoy myself because controlling my eating does not take away the pleasure of being with my family and feeling thankful for what I have. Besides, if I did end up stuffing myself, I would undoubtedly feel sick and guilty afterwards, which would strongly diminish my enjoyment of the holiday as a whole. If I stay in control, I get to enjoy eating some of the food, I get to enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and I get to feel really good about myself and my eating.


Sabotaging Thought #5: Thanksgiving only happens once a year so it's okay to splurge.

Response: Thanksgiving happens once a year, every year. The holiday season happens every year. There are 52 weekends a year. There are countless birthdays, celebrations, parties, special occasions, events, and other holidays every year. If I start making exceptions for one, then it will be hard for me to stay on track without a struggle for the rest because I'll constantly have to think, "Should I make an exception for this one, too?" While it is certainly reasonable to decide in advance to eat some extra calories for the Thanksgiving meal, I need to do it in a planned way so that I don't end up eating a whole lot extra and wind up jeopardizing my weight loss. I need to set the example this year of how I am going to handle every Thanksgiving to come so that I can figure out how to enjoy the holiday but also enjoy all of my Advantages of losing weight. It's worth it!

Ask the Diet Program Coordinator

Deborah Beck Busis

Q: Help!  The holiday season always seems to throw me off track and I have lots of trouble controlling my eating.  What can I do to make this year different?


A: Good question!  The holiday season can be more difficult where dieting and healthy eating are concerned, but with some extra work and practice, we know that dieters can get through it unscathed.  Here are some of the techniques dieters can use to stay on track:


Have a (general) Plan

It's important for dieters to come up with a plan of how they want to handle their weight loss and maintenance during the holiday season, so that they don't begin to gradually consume extra calories each day and have extra weight creep up on them. It is perfectly fine if dieters decide in advance that they would like to eat extra calories during some days of the holiday season, knowing that their weight loss might temporarily stall or that they may gain a pound or two. As long as dieters do this deliberately, then they still maintain a sense of control over their eating and once holiday season is over they know that they will just continue exerting this control, return to normal eating, and begin losing weight again. Dieters will not have to struggle to get themselves back on track because they were never off it in the first place.


Set Reasonable Expectations

Dieters need to have reasonable expectations of how much food they are going to be able to eat during the holiday season. It is unrealistic for dieters to think that they can eat as much as they want, in whatever quantity they want, and still lose or maintain their weight. Dieters need to remember that calories count just as much during the holidays as they do during any other time of year, and if they take in too many of them, they will gain weight. If dieters have the expectation, "I should be able to eat as much as I want because it's the holidays," then they will constantly be disappointed when this turns out not to be true and will struggle with feeling deprived. Dieters instead need to work on having reasonable expectations, like "I'll get to enjoy some special holiday food and I'll also get to enjoy the spirit of the holiday season, being with my family, and feeling good about myself and my eating."


Look out for Emotional Eating

The holiday season can bring highs and lows as dieters are faced with both additional stressors and joyful times, which means they may be at risk for eating emotionally.  Dieters need to remember that emotional eating can occur with both positive and negative emotions and they need to be on the lookout for urges to eat when they are feeling emotionally aroused for whatever reason. Especially when dieters are feeling strong negative emotions , they need to remind themselves, "I only want to eat now because I'm feeling sad/stressed/angry. Eating will not solve the problem and I will wind up having two problems - the original one and now also the problem of having gone off my diet and feeling bad about myself. Instead I need to go find another way to calm myself down and figure out how to address the problem in a way that will make it better, not worse."


Take Time for Yourself (Even though You're Busy)

Successful dieting and implementing dieting skills consistently does not come out of nowhere; rather it comes as a result of dieters putting in the time and mental energy needed to make it work. Just because it's the holidays and dieters may have more commitments and less time does not mean that they are able to suspend working on their dieting skills.  While it may be harder to find this time and energy during the holiday season, dieters need to remember that it is a question of priorities and what they choose to put first in their lives. We often have dieters revisit their Advantages List during this time and really think about how important all each item is to them. Across the board, dieters tell us that these are the most important things and therefore they can't be pushed to the wayside just because life gets busier. 


Focus on Basic Skills

During the holiday season it is crucial for dieters to continue to keep an eye on basic dieting skills and ensure that they are still doing them consistently, like: reading their Advantages Lists every day; reading their Response Cards; eating everything sitting down, slowly, and mindfully; giving themselves credit; identifying and responding to sabotaging thoughts; coping with cravings, and so on. Focusing on the basics can go a long way towards helping dieters maintain control of their eating because it will force them to be aware of everything that they're eating and of the reasons why it's worth it to them to use their skills.


Establish Rules for Holiday Food

It can be enormously helpful for dieters to set some general rules for themselves about how they will handle certain aspects of holiday eating. For example, some dieters work in an environment where people are constantly bringing in and offering tempting treats during the holiday season. This requires dieters to make a decision about whether or not to have some of the tempting food multiple times per day, and increases the likelihood that one (or more) of those times they will give in and have food they hadn't planned to. When dieters set rules for themselves like "No matter what, no junk food until after dinner," or, "No matter what, no food from my work break room," then it makes it so much easier for them to say no and make the right decision. When they have firm rules they don't have to engage in the painful struggle of "should I/shouldn't I have some" because they just know: "I'm not having any."


Continue Weighing In

In general, dieters do not like getting on the scale if they think they've gained weight. However, the times that dieters most resist getting on the scale are the times when it's probably the most important for them to do so, so that they get in the habit of taking responsibility for their actions and realize that there will be consequences of overeating. Many dieters may be tempted to skip weighing themselves during the holiday season so that they can fool themselves into thinking that indulging during this time doesn't matter. Dieters need to remind themselves that their bodies don't know or care that it's the holiday season and calories count the same regardless of the time of year.


Be Accountable to Someone

It can be very helpful for dieters to have someone else to whom they have to be accountable during the holiday season. This may be a friend or family member that they check in with daily or even once a week and to whom dieters may report their weight, how much they are exercising, whether or not they have been practicing their skills, and their plans for how they will handle upcoming events. This person can also help dieters come up with solutions to stressful situations, formulate helpful responses to sabotaging thoughts, and provide a reality check when needed. 


* Do you have a question for the Diet Program Coordinator? Email us at info@beckdietsolution.com!  

Best of Facebook - Holiday Edition

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you undoubtedly won't be able to eat all of the holiday food you want, in whatever quantities you want. HOWEVER, this doesn't mean that you can't have a plan for when and how you will enjoy certain treats, and in doing so you will be able to indulge in holiday food, enjoy staying in control, AND enjoy all the advantages of losing weight.


Sabotaging Thought: Since it's almost the holidays, I can't possibly lose weight at this time. 

Response: That's just a sabotaging thought. While it may be more difficult at this time of year with all of the extra treats around, I'm ultimately in charge of every bite of food I eat so the holidays don't have to derail me.


It can be helpful for dieters to look at their goals during the holiday season. Is their goal to indulge in as much holiday food and drink as they want, or is their goal to get everything on their Advantages List? These goals are incompatible and unfortunately they (and everyone else!) can't have it both ways.

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We Want to Hear from You!

We are always so inspired by stories of people finally finding success with the help of the Beck Diet Solution, and we know others are too. If you have any inspirational stories, pictures, or thoughts about what worked best for you please send them in to us (dietprogram@beckinstitute.org). Also make sure to include whether or not we have your permission to reprint your story and if so, whether or not we should print your full name, first name only, or change your name. Thanks!