It often happens like this: You were following your meal plan perfectly, then all of a sudden something changed — you finally gave into a craving for something which was not included in your meal plan. You immediately feel guilty and ask yourself: “Why did I just eat that?”
We have all been there, so don’t feel like you’re alone. This is a common reaction to straying from your goals, however, this is a dangerous place to be. You are at a fork in the road; After this, you are either led to think, “I blew my diet, might as well eat whatever I want now,” or “that was just a slip, I can get right back on track.” At this critical point, the path you take determines whether you have a slip or relapse.
A “slip,” by definition, is a lapse of judgement. Slips are able to be redeemed and are characterized by the “bad” behavior being avoided after the mistake was made. A “relapse,” however, is a full return to poor decision-making. Relapses are complete 180o -turns away from proper behavior and are especially characterized by an unwillingness to get back on track. Most of the time, “slips” or “lapses” are the starting-point for relapses.
Neither slips or relapses are ideal, however for some people they are close to inevitable. If you actively become self-aware, however, you may be able to spot red-flags and prevent lapses and relapses altogether.
Below are some common red flags or reasons for lapsing to look out for:
- Making excuses for unhealthy eating habits
- Not planning or meal prepping
- Not eating at scheduled meal times
- Unable to utilize support systems
- Skipping meals
- Dishonesty about feelings and behaviors
- Perfectionist attitudes
If you do find yourself exhibiting lapse-like attitudes and behaviors, don’t worry! There is no reason you should be doomed to lapsing or relapsing at all. By actively avoiding such behaviors with the following tips, you can ensure that you’re constantly moving onward and upwards:
Tip #1: Remind yourself that life happens! A majority of people struggle with the desire to relapse. Consider your urges “learning experiences” and remind yourself that you’re building strength each time you resist.
Tip #2: Avoid beating yourself up! There’s no shame in reminiscing on “old times,” just make sure that you’re not re-experiencing.
Tip #3: Re-claim your day and avoid saying “Well, I guess I ruined all of my work”! Get back on track as quickly as possible and don’t allow yourself to make excuses to “cheat” any further.
Tip #4: Talk about it! Whether it’s a friend or a trained psychologist, getting your feelings out in the open will help you figure out why you engaged in destructive behavior and will hopefully lead to some ideas for preventative strategies.
Tip #5: Remember where you came from and remind yourself of the benefits of staying on-track. Being in good-health is a conglomerate of everyday actions which add up to something great. Stay positive and realize that nothing is the end of the world!