Is black and white thinking make you fat?


Black and white thinking is prevalent in dieters.  It could be called The Dieting Mentality.  Black and white thinking could also show up as all or nothing thinking or right and wrong thinking.  While these types of thinking styles are normal, when they become excessive they can severely limit our perspective on life and our capacity to be a healthy, normal eater.

You’ll recognise black or white thinking if you:

  • label foods good and bad
  • label yourself good or bad depending on what you’ve eaten
  • have good days and bad days depending on whether you are on or off your diet
  • find yourself consistently stuck between one choice OR another
  • tend to be compulsive or addictive

Jane, a client of mine made outrageous promises to herself which she invariably couldn’t keep.  She would commit to doing exercise 6 times a week but, inevitably, life would get in the way and she would have to miss a day.  If that happened she’d write the whole week off.  Similarly with her diet.  If she made just one little tiny deviation from her plan she’d tell herself she’d blown it and go crazy for the rest of the day.

If you recognise this type of thinking in yourself then you’re probably trapped in a vicious circle of reward and punishment.  You need a circuit breaker!  Developing flexible thinking will help.  Thinking of AND instead of OR will help.  Here’s a few ways to help you do that.

  1. Pay attention to your language. If you hear yourself labeling foods good or bad remember that, actually, foods are neutral until we label them.  There is no such thing as good and bad foods till we say so.  Consider making all foods neutral.
  2. If you find yourself having to choose between one thing or another, ask yourself “how can I have both”.  A whole plethora of new possibilities has the potential to open up.
  3. Review all your “excuses”.  Think about the things you’ve told yourself you can’t do and ask yourself, could it be possible that I could do that thing if only I found a creative way to make it work.  For example, if money is your excuse not to join a gym so you can exercise, then think about all the other ways you can do exercise for far less money.  Evaluate and research all the possibilities.
  4. Cut yourself some slack.  There is a Chinese proverb that goes something like this, “It’s not how often you fall that matters but how often you get up”.  If you break one of your own rules and feel like chucking the whole thing in, reconsider.  Either your rules are too black and white or your response is.  Forgive yourself, dust yourself off and get back on track.
  5. Be kind to yourself.  Much of our unhealthy behaviour is fueled by harshness towards ourselves.  While the “whipping” strategy can work to motivate you, the “loving kindness” strategy is far more powerful and effective.

Working with a coach who can listen to you and your language may greatly accelerate your progress in this area.  Give it some thought and decide whether it’s worth investing in.  [subscribe2]

Brenda Rogers

With over 25 years experience as a corporate trainer, naturopath, yoga teacher and wise woman educator, Brenda is the head clinician and coach at Quintessence Health.

"A healthy mind and body simply ensures you have the time and energy to fully express and manifest your life’s purpose – it facilitates the unfolding of joy."

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