By Roseville Registered Dietitian Lauren

You are smart and you have a great sense of humor. But despite all this, do you ever find yourself slipping into negative thinking patterns? Many people have automatic thoughts; when these are negative, they’re called cognitive distortions. Automatic negative thoughts may seem reasonable on the surface, but they ignore positives and truths. When we view ourselves through this imaginary, negative lens, we keep ourselves from achieving success in healthy eating, fitness, and overall wellness.

Below are examples of automatic negative thoughts that can influence our eating habits. Discover helpful tips that can prevent these thoughts from disrupting your weight management goals and success!

How to Combat Negative Thoughts & Achieve Healthy Weight Loss

All-or-Nothing Thinking

Viewing your weight-loss meal plan as perfect or failed, without considering the range in between of mostly healthy choices you can make.

Example: “I ate a cookie, so I ruined the whole day”.

Is the whole day really ruined by one cookie? A healthy diet plan for weight loss does not always have to be “perfect”. Instead of thinking of healthy eating as two-sided (healthy vs. unhealthy) try to think of it like a spectrum with unhealthy choices on one end and healthy choices on the other end. Each choice you make just nudges you in the direction of one way or the other, but it doesn’t flip you straight to the other side.

Catastrophizing

Making disastrous predictions about your weight loss and eating behavior.

Example: “I can’t believe I ate that bread. I’m going to gain all the weight back!”

Do you know for sure that you’re going to gain all the weight back? You may fluctuate by a few pounds, but you will be able to keep so many more pounds off. Imagine other possible scenarios. Imagine that you might occasionally eat bread, but you might eat “less” bread next time.

Instead of imagining the worst-case scenario, imagine yourself doing well and making the choices you want to make. By rehearsing in your mind what you would like to happen, you’re more likely going to make the choice you want to make.

Labeling

Using negative descriptions of yourself.

Example: “I’m such a pig”.

First, this is not true. Second, when we call ourselves mean names, we are more likely to overeat and practice other unhealthy behaviors.[1][2] Try thinking of it from a non-judgmental perspective. If your stomach feels uncomfortable, notice this, but do not label yourself. Take a deep breath, reset, and make the next healthy choice.

Disqualifying the Positive

Ignoring the good things that happened this week.

Example: “I didn’t lose any weight this week”.

While it’s true the scale is one way to measure weight-loss management, it’s not the only factor that matters. Did you drink all your water? Eat all your vegetables? Sleep 8 hours each night? Did you have energy to go for a walk every day? What other benefits are you seeing from your efforts?

Take time to think about the good things you have done this week, and the ways you have benefited from them.

Should Statements

Feeling guilty or burdened by what you think someone else wants you to do.

Example: “I should eat more salads”.

If you feel like you must eat the salad, those fresh greens seem less appealing. Any time we feel pressured into meeting someone else’s expectations, like eating salad, the task becomes more like a chore. Think about the reasons you truly enjoy making healthy choices. Look at the variety of healthy vegetable options you have and pick the ones you like the most. This way, you feel more in control and more satisfied with your choices.

Self-Defeating Humor

Putting yourself down to make others laugh

Example: “I’m just a fat old man” *pauses for laughter*.

While this may seem funny to some people, this type of joking tends to reinforce feeling poorly about yourself. Are there ways you can make jokes that don’t put yourself down? Or are there funny jokes that help you connect to other people?[3]

Stay Positive & Achieve Weight-Loss Success

The next time you find yourself entertaining a negative thought pattern, examine it more closely. Is it true? Do you know for sure?

Nearly every time, you’ll find that it’s not completely true or is not always true. It can be difficult to shift your thought patterns, but with time and practice, it will become easier. Challenge yourself to question your automatic thoughts, and you’ll be sure to find many things that you’re doing well.

To help you stay positive and feel supported throughout your wellness journey, trust Livea to find the perfect weight-loss program for you! Enjoy access to one-on-one support from our nutritionists and learn how to customize your meal plan to fit your lifestyle, dietary needs, and personal goals for success!

Start your weight-loss journey with Livea today!

References

[1] Dennett, C. The health impact of weight stigma. Today’s Dietitian. Jan 2018;20(1):24-28.

[2] Puhl RM, Moss-Racusin CA, Schwartz MB. Internalization of weight bias: implications for binge eating and emotional well-being. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007;15(1):19-23.

[3] Rnic, K., Dozois, D. J., & Martin, R. A. (2016). Cognitive Distortions, Humor Styles, and Depression. Europe’s journal of psychology12(3), 348–362. https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v12i3.1118 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991044/