If you’re on a diet – or if you just try to eat healthily and exercise regularly – then take a few moments to consider how you talk about it. You might think that the way you describe your diet to friends, colleagues and yourself doesn’t really matter, but changing the way you talk about your diet can alter your outlook completely – and set you up for success.
Avoiding “shoulds” and “oughts”
Have you used any phrases like these in connection with your diet?
- “I ought to lose weight.”
- “I shouldn’t eat that.”
- “I’m not allowed to have fries, I’m on a diet.”
- “I should go for a jog after work.”
If you talk like this, you’ll feel deprived whilst dieting – you’ll see your diet in terms of being “forbidden” certain foods, and you might diet because you think you “ought to” rather than because you want to. Feeling deprived and pressured into a diet you don’t want won’t do anything for your motivation levels, so try changing the things you say:
- “I am losing weight” or “I want to lose weight”
- “I’m choosing not to eat that at the moment.”
- “I’m not having fries today” or “I don’t want fries today.”
- “I will go for a jog after work.”
Can you see the pattern? Switching from “I should do this” to “I will do this” takes away the value judgement – you’re simply making a statement of fact, not trying to bully or guilt yourself into something. And saying that “I want to…” makes it your choice rather than something forced upon you.
Avoiding “needs” and “musts”
Sometimes, we make excuses to eat things we know we’d be better off avoiding:
- “I need chocolate.”
- “I must have some of that cake.”
- “I can’t resist trying one.”
If you say things like this, you’ll feel that you can’t be held responsible for your diet. You’ll give in to cravings, “break” your diet at any excuse, and feel bad afterwards because you think you’ll never succeed. But you don’t truly need chocolate – you’ll survive just fine without it! Try changing the way you talk:
- “I want chocolate” or “I’m craving chocolate”
- “I’m tempted by that cake.”
- “I’d like to try one but I can resist!”
Recognising and admitting that you’re craving something, or that you’re tempted, is fine. It’s easy to beat a craving just by waiting it out – twenty minutes is usually long enough. And you can resist temptation: if eating a bag of chips was going to cost you $20, you’d probably resist just fine.
Do you find yourself talking about your diet in a negative way, or justifying your eating habits by the language you use? Have you come up with a great way to talk about your healthy habits in positive terms? Let us know in the comments…