I recently started working with a new dieter named Kelly.  One of Kelly’s major concerns was that the holiday season would be a difficult time to begin the Beck Diet Solution program.  We’ve heard from many dieters who are nervous about their ability to either start working or continue working on healthy eating during the holiday season.  I discussed with Kelly that while this time may be a more challenging time to begin the program, it’s certainly not an impossible time. And, in fact, there are advantages of beginning a healthy eating program right now:

1. When dieters begin working on healthy eating during the holiday season, they will likely face difficulties early on, which will allow them to immediately begin figuring out which situations are particularly difficult for them and what areas will need the most work.  If a dieter goes to a party and decides he won’t have any treats, and then winds up having one, it’s important for him to evaluate the experience and figure out what happened, why, and what he can do differently the next time (such as reading certain Response Cards before he goes). It’s also possible that his plan was too strict and that next time it would be more reasonable to plan to have one portion of dessert, instead of not having any.  Because dieters will experience many similar situations during the holiday season, they can start to gain a sense of what sabotaging thoughts they’re likely to have, how they can respond to them, and what type of plan works best in various circumstances.  It may take much longer to figure these things out at other times during the year because they likely won’t have such a concentrated period of parties and events.

2. Working on healthy eating during the holidays can help mitigate weight gain.  Someone who is working on healthy eating during the holidays, even if she struggles with it, is much more likely to gain less weight than if she just throws in the towel—deciding to eat whatever she wants, and telling herself, “I’ll get back on track after the New Year.”  Any amount of work and effort during this time is likely to pay off in the form of fewer calories consumed, even if it’s still more calories than she originally planned.

3. The holidays are a great time to start working on accepting and recovering from mistakes, since mistakes tend to occur more frequently during this time.  I always remind dieters that we learn just as much from challenges as we do from successes, and dieters can right away begin to use their holiday mistakes as important learning experiences. Since no one is perfect and since everyone makes mistakes, it’s vitally important for dieters to gain confidence and grasp the fact that when they make mistakes (not if they make mistakes), they can get right back on track – and in doing so, mistakes turn into minor problems, not major lapses.  Dieters will continue to make eating mistakes for the rest of their lives, and the earlier they learn to recover from them right away, the better off they are. 

4. Sometimes when dieters begin this program, they enter what we call the “Honeymoon Phase,” a time when their motivation is very high and dieting is fairly easy. Unfortunately, once the Honeymoon Phase passes (as it does for everyone) dieting usually becomes more difficult for a period of time. If dieters don’t understand that this is a normal occurrence, they are at greater risk for sabotaging thoughts (“I just can’t do it;” “This is too hard;” “This isn’t working anymore”) and giving up.  When dieters begin the Beck Diet Solution program during the holiday season, they are likely to be challenged from the get-go and don’t get lulled into a false sense of ease or security.  Instead, they are provided right away with ample opportunities to begin working through difficult situations and gaining real confidence in their ability to maintain control in the face of challenging circumstances.