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Learn what to do when you lapse, cheat, slip, or fall off your diet

Posted Apr 11 2009 12:56am

We've all had lapses (aka cheats, slips, falling off) during a diet. A lapse can be seen as a failure, a real crisis. It can also be seen as an opportunity.

Researchers in the field of relapse prevention have found that the most dangerous period is the time directly following the lapse. Here are six things recommended by experts that you can do right after a lapse.

  1. Stop, look, & listen   Pay attention to what's happening. The lapse is a warning sign. Take yourself away to a quiet spot so you can get yourself together.
  2. Stay calm   You'll be upset at first, and that's okay. But remember, this is just a slip, not a total relapse.
  3. Strengthen motivation   Instead of giving up, think back over why you want to lose weight. Remember your goal and what it will bring to your life. Consider the strides you've already made.
  4. See what led up to the lapse   Carefully consider the situation surrounding the cheat. That will tell you about what in your life you need to attend to.
  5. Make a plan of immediate action   Get rid of any food tempting you at the moment. Get yourself away from the kitchen or the restaurant, or if possible, wherever the slip occurred. See if you can do something for yourself at this juncture that will be an alternative to eating.
  6. Ask for help - from friends, family etc. You'd be surprised how much people who care about you can do (encouragement, suggestions, support).

Reference: Relapse Prevention. edited by G. Alan Marlatt & Judith R. Gordon. NY: Guilford, 1985.            

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