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Staying on Your Weight-Loss Program

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Guilt Is a Choice, Not a Requirement

Body of Knowledge

In any situation in which you have overeaten, forgive yourself. You simply forgot that you were at your ideal size and that you have mastered your weight and eating. Then wait until you are hungry and eat enough but not too much.

Ever notice how guilt about overeating begets more overeating? Take a binger who is usually overly careful about her food intake. She counts calories or fat grams (or both) and can be seen obsessing over whether to have dressing on her chef salad at lunch.

Every once in a while, though, that strong and virtually undeniable urge to overeat surfaces, and she gives in. At those times, she forgets about calories and fat grams. She eats heavy foods, laden with all the richness she has been denying herself. At first it feels good, but then it feels awful. Not only is her stomach stuffed and extended, all her careful eating has been ruined. She feels horrible and hates her behavior and herself. She can't understand why she did it. Remorse builds up inside her. The tears come after this seemingly crazy behavior.

So does guilt. This feeling starts eating at her. How could she? What's wrong with her? Bingeing is a bad thing to do. How can she ever atone for this mistake? The guilt wells up inside. Soon she is eating to assuage the guilt. The guilt is layered just like that magnificent torte she inhaled. Guilt for what she did, guilt for ruining her diet, guilt at such bizarre behavior, guilt at being overweight. Talk about the guilt of the world resting on someone's shoulders.

The more she binges and the more she overeats, the guiltier she feels. Then she eats more to deal with the yucky feelings. Cause and effect become blurred. What is a person to do?

The first step in breaking the guilt-eating syndrome is to forgive oneself. Forgive yourself for all the offenses you thought you did: overeating, bingeing, being fat, being out of control, you name it. As you do this, the guilt releases, and you are free and fresh. Then wait until you are hungry and eat normally until your body's hunger is satisfied.

Guilt is a useless, unproductive emotion when it comes to reaching your ideal size. Tell yourself, “It is okay and important to eat. I eat just enough food and not more than my body needs.” You'll discover that eating without guilt is a great feeling, one you will enjoy regularly as you gain mastery over your eating habits. Guilt ruins almost all dieting attempts.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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