If your goal is to lose weight, you likely spend a lot of time telling yourself what you can’t eat. Items that usually top this type of “I will never put them in my mouth again” list include candy, cookies, chips, and ice cream. And let’s not forget doughnuts and pizza.
Although this type of approach may seem like the common sense thing to do—cut all of the “bad” food items out of your diet—it usually has the opposite effect. Instead of reminding you to eat less of these things, it makes you want to eat more. Why?
We Often Want What We Can’t Have
There’s an old adage that says “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” That’s why it’s often so hard to get over a former love. Even if that person wasn’t the best fit for you, you want him or her even more once you know you can’t have them. You overlook all of the ways they made your life less-than and focus on the good times instead.
Well, the same is true with food. The more you tell yourself that you can’t have all of the foods that are making it difficult to reach your weight-related goals, the more you want to eat them. The fact that they’re hurting your health, increasing your waistline, or making you feel like crap becomes irrelevant because all you remember is how good they make you feel.
This way of thinking also puts you in a frame of mind that is focused solely on the things you want to cut out. As a result, those are the only things you can think about. They begin to appear in your mind randomly throughout your day, often working their way into your dreams. Before you know it, you give in.
Yet, all of this mental torture, this constantly feeling that you have to deprive yourself in order to be thin, can be avoided. And it can be avoided by making just one small tweak.
Add Versus Subtract
If you want to lose weight without the internal struggle, quit thinking about what you need to subtract from your diet and spend more time focusing on what you should add to it instead.
For example, while we all know that fruits and vegetables are essential parts of a healthy diet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only one in ten adult Americans eat the minimum recommended amount.
That makes foods in these categories a great addition to your diet if your goal is to fit into smaller jeans. You don’t have to do it all in one day either.
Aim to eat one more serving today than you had yesterday. And when you get used to that, add another serving in, and so on and so on.
When you put more of the focus on the foods that, when added to your diet, can help you reach your weight loss goals, you begin to lose the deprivation mentality. When you’re no longer thinking only about the things you can’t eat and putting greater importance on the things you should, it has a way of easing some of the mental struggles common to losing weight.
The main thing to remember is that your focus will be on whatever you think about most. So, instead of setting yourself up for a future setback by thinking only about what you have to subtract from your diet to achieve your goals, spend more time concentrating on what you have to add. You’ll find that reaching your weight loss goals is much easier when you do.