Countering a common attitude trap: ‘Light bulb’ thinking

When on Slim.in, you may at times be faced with this situation: You have kept to your allowance limit for two entire weeks. In the third week, you eat a pizza and cross your allowance massively. At this point, if you are one of those people who think, “I have messed this up. I am off slim.in now”, this article is for you.

See how you think “off Slim.in”? This is the dichotomous view we are talking about: the view that you are either on or off a programme. This is what is called ‘light bulb thinking’ – like a bulb, that is either on or off. It is a classic attitude problem seen in many people trying to lose weight. It involves viewing the world and losing weight as either perfect or terrible, good or bad, legal or illegal, right or wrong.

The problem we, at Slim.in, have with dichotomous thinking is the despair that common mistakes will plunge you into. Having one pizza does not make or break your total calorie intake in the week, month, or year. An extra 2000 calories is still only 100 calories a day extra if you stick to your diet for the next 20 days. Another way to look at it is that 2,000 calories is less than 250gms in weight. Surely a lapse like this will have no impact on your weight loss so long as you recover quickly.

But how you react to that pizza can be overwhelming. Many people who feel guilty or depressed are at high risk of leaving Slim.in altogether.

A different instance of ‘light bulb’ thinking is when you label foods as good or bad. The thing to remember is that what is bad for you may not be bad at all for another person – and vice versa.

A common tip to identify when you are having such thoughts and learning to talk back to your self to counter them.

Diary page from Slim.in user and mother of two, Shamima

“Had a large packet of wafers in the afternoon while watching a movie. Was feeling terrible, kept on thinking – I have totally blown my chances of ever becoming healthy. Till my ten year old came and asked me, ‘Mama, why are you looking sad?’ I told him what was going on in my mind.

‘So what, Mama, just because you had chips today doesn’t mean you’ll have it tomorrow!.’

Today I learnt that when I have a negative thought and beat myself up for slipping on my diet, I am not helping myself. Next time I am in danger of slipping – say when I find another packet of open chips, reading today’s entry will help me develop control.”

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