Every person is different and every dieter has his or her own unique struggles; however, there are certain situations that make almost everyone vulnerable to temptation when dieting.
A study recently published in the Annals of Behavioral medicine studied 80 people who were already trying to lose weight. They asked them to use an app on their phone to record times when they were tempted to cheat on their diet and record how they handled the temptations. Although it is a small study, the results were about what I would have guessed.
Here are the four times/situations that tempted the dieters the most:
1. When it was late at night.
2. When they were tired.
3. When there was alcohol present.
4. When friends were present.
It’s an interesting list isn’t it? Although it would be wonderful if we could just diet without life’s stresses, without tempting social situations, without feeling tired, and never being tempted by alcohol, the truth is that we have to diet during our regular life. Most of us can’t go to a spa and lose weight and come back all fit and healthy.
Each of these four common situations made it difficult for the study participants to stick to their diets and about 50 percent of the time when faced with temptations, they gave in and ate foods not on their diet plans.
I don’t drink alcohol so I can’t speak to the presence of alcohol being a factor in going off my diet, but I can certainly relate to the other three. I’ve written about the influence of other people in dieting before, and I promise you, if I was already on the fence about eating right for a particular meal, the presence of overweight friends influenced my behavior.
Lack of Sleep
I also fell into poor dieting behaviors when I was tired and not getting enough sleep. The lack of sleep affects more than just how sleepy you are. It also affects hormones that control hunger and appetite. If I started the day off tired, I had much less willpower than I did when I began the day (or week) feeling reasonably rested. I still find that to be true.
Late Night Binges
Late night eating is almost always dangerous for people trying to lose weight. Of course there are exceptions and planned snacks are fine, but hanging out with friends who are eating pizza is never good when you are trying to lose weight. Another challenge late at night is if you are alone and bored. That’s when I would break out the ice cream or whip up some biscuits for myself.
The Influence of Friends
Having friends around for me could go either way. With my very good friends I ate like there was no tomorrow, but when I was in a large group or with people I didn’t know well, I ate like a bird. Just be mindful of what you tend to do when you are around friends. On a related note, Here’s an article I wrote for HealthyWay.com on habits that are slowing down your weight loss.
The good news is that none of these situations have to mean the end of your diet. You can learn to control nighttime eating, practice staying on track when eating with friends, not allowing alcohol to influence your eating patterns, and work on getting enough sleep.
In the end it is all about lifestyle changes. You can temporarily resist all temptations, but real life dieting means successfully losing weight through tempting times, through easy times, and through those times when you are feeling stressed. After all, life is not stress free and you’ve got to learn how to live healthy even when life is hard.
What do you find tempting and how do you stick to your diet in those times? Diane
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