Do I need to give up my favourite foods, drinks & activities?

Published 18 April, 2024

“Weight loss means no more takeaways”
“I won’t be able to eat the same meals as my family”
“I must give up alcohol if I want to be healthy”
“I ought to stop sitting on the sofa and watching TV”

All of the above quotes are examples of difficult thoughts that we can get caught up in when considering our health behaviour changes. Another way of considering these thoughts are as ridged rules; you may recognise some of these or you may have different one’s but they often start with “have to, must, ought to, can’t, right and wrong”. These rules are very strict and there is no room for compromise; they are often driven by a worry of losing control.

Have you ever done something simply because someone told you not to?

We are guessing yes! Setting these strict rules may feel like the right thing to do but research shows us that they are not as helpful as we think; ridged rules can lead to:- Being less aware of what our bodies want and need

  • More likely to overeat / indulge in a craving
  • A sense of missing out; or even resenting our health behaviour change journey
  • Frustration when we are left with the sense of having given up so much
  • More likely to experience setbacks with our goals

Top tips from our team:

  • How can you reframe these thoughts into something more helpful? E.g. “I must give up alcohol if I want to be healthy”….could become “I’d like to reduce the alcohol I consume; this will be a step towards reaching my health goal”.
  • When making a change consider whether it is something you would be comfortable with in the long term; does the change still allow you to enjoy life the way you would like?
  • There are no absolute rules when it comes to lifestyle change for health; no single food, drink or activity that you must totally avoid. It’s all about moderation and gaining feedback from your self-monitoring skills to see how you are getting on.
  • Identify and tune into your values; use these to guide and motivate you in your changes.
  • When making a change; consider is this something you would reasonably recommend to a friend or a loved one? Chances are if you think its too tough for them then it needs reconsidering for you!

We would like to hear from you! Comment below any tips you have for balancing the foods, drinks and activities that you love with your health behaviour goals.

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