Understanding Backsliding

Rare is the person who sets up a weight control program and follows it to completion without wavering. Most of us experience some backsliding along the way. Recognizing our weaknesses and learning from backsliding episodes are the keys to successful weight management.

The first step in overcoming backsliding is to become aware of what is most likely to cause it. Some common causes are the following:

  •  Conflict in the home
  •  Boredom
  •  Discouragement with slow progress
  •  Social situations
  •  Impulse eating
  •  Lack of self-confidence

When backsliding occurs, it helps to evaluate the situation. What caused the lapse? What preparation can be made now so that it won’t happen again?

Diet counselors recommend rehearsing appropriate responses to the situations that tempt us to backslide. Such responses could include any of the following:

  1.  Wait 10 minutes before eating;
  2.  Recite a list (written in advance) of the advantages of not giving in;
  3.  Reward yourself in a specific way for not giving in;
  4.  Call a friend for support

When backsliding is a result of thought patterns, it helps to recognize those patterns, deliberately turn them off when they begin, and then focus on the benefits of staying on track.

What causes you to backslide? Take a moment now to list your vulnerable points and practice a response to them. For instance, if boredom causes you to backslide, make a list of activities to overcome boredom: take a walk, write a letter, or treat yourself to a facial. Give yourself some positive feedback for your successes. Keep the phone number of a supportive friend handy for when you feel weak.

If conflict with a family member or spouse triggers backsliding, get outside help. Above all, don’t give up. Everyone backslides sometimes. Treat backsliding episodes as opportunities to learn from your mistakes. Talk to a counselor, pastor or healthcare provider about working out problems that may lead to backsliding in your diet.

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