ROTATION DIET: SOME EXAMPLES FOR EATING SITUATIONS
In the category of resisting temptation, when you feel the urge to eat in the evening, or on weekends when you have nothing else pressing to do for a few moments, or when those snack foods are likely to pop up in front of you as you watch TV, it is good to have some alternative activity available to replace eating, or a substitute food that you have practiced turning to in your imagination and rehearsal. We practice saying "No, thanks" in our groups when we work on social eating situations. First we use our imagination and then we rehearse and role-play with real, tempting high-calorie foods that I bring to the group meetings for this special purpose. Then we send our participants home to set up practice situations.
With food choice, you might imagine that cake and fruit are both available as desserts, either at home or in a restaurant. Then, fantasize yourself executing the behavior you desire for weight control. Get closer to reality by actually buying yourself that symbolic candy bar; set it out on a table together with a piece of any kind of fresh fruit that you like, pick up the fruit and put the candy away (it is better out of sight!), and eat your fruit.
The food-choice situation is one that is helped by mentally rehearsing the rewards of a correct choice. These rewards are often postponed to the future and they are not as naturally strong as the taste of cake, cookies, or candy. Although a correct choice of fruit over junk food would get you closer to your weight goal, keep you at desirable weight, or simply help you stay healthier than the candy, a "supernormal" food is a very strong physiological stimulus to eating. If it is present right in front of you, it can overwhelm all other considerations - that is, unless you put thoughts of future consequences right at the forefront of your consciousness, and then move with dispatch to a correct choice.
Finally, with overeating, most of us have the urge to throw in the towel the moment we make the first deviation from our eating vows. It is very important that you begin to see yourself in a different light. Yes, it is possible to begin to overeat, and still stop yourself. Work through the familiar fantasy steps that you have used in the other eating problem areas: imagine yourself beginning to overeat, and then exerting control. It is most important that you see yourself returning immediately to your eating and activity program, so that one skirmish lost does not lead to losing the entire war.
One of the best rehearsal strategies for learning to deal with overeating is to buy a food item that frequently tempts you to overeat, in a single portion, and set up a situation in which you can eat it slowly and with pleasure. It helps to do things like this before an audience as you talk through what you are experiencing and doing - so invite a friend to be with you as you practice. Be sure to allow up to twenty minutes for observing yourself and your reactions after you finish eating, so that you can see how your appetite begins to turn off and how the urge to continue disappears. Then store the image of the experience in your memory so you can draw on it as needed.