Outsmarting Your Inner “Brat”

“Don’t Tell Me What to Do!”

Check out this all-too-common conversation between child and parent:

“I don’t care; I’ll do what I want.”
“No, you will NOT. I know what’s good for you. You’ll listen to me right now.”

If you smiled in recognition, thinking of your child or grandchild, think again! This dialogue is “self-talk,” the running commentary that buzzes around our own adult brains most of the day.

And what inspired this all-too-familiar exchange?  Imagine this. You’re three months out of Pritikin, happily into your new lifestyle, fit and streamlined, a better you.

But then, at a table with friends, enjoying the ambience of the new bistro down the block, you open the menu, and the battle begins:

Adult You:  “Before I walked into this restaurant, I had decided to order tuna tonight, with a baked potato and steamed veggies.  And I’ll have one of my allowed glasses of wine.  I’ve never looked or felt so good in years.”

Inner Child: “That’s what YOU think. I’ve been good for weeks, damnit. I don’t care what you say; you’re always telling me what to do. I want the steak and pomme frites. And the bread looks yummy.  Everyone else is ordering what they want, and I WILL TOO.”

This self-sabotage is often fueled by the irrational belief that you don’t have a choice about what you eat.  In fact, I hope that you all realize that you are deciding to “live healthy” each and every time you make a food decision. Eating an apple instead of a Snickers is being good to yourself. Yet until you believe this, you may struggle and fight with yourself.  At war are your reason and cravings.

If your “inner brat” is not tolerating your “no” choice about steak and pomme frites tonight, tell yourself, “Of course I can eat them, but I choose not to because . . .”  (Finish this sentence with a reason that makes sense to you.)  For example, if you’re craving a bagel, choose not to order one “because when I eat a bagel, I get one around my waist, and that waist-bulging bagel lasts a long long time, and raises my risk for heart disease.” 

That may sound silly, but it rings oh-too-true once you put it in practice.  I’ve said it before in other articles, and I’ll emphasize it again because it’s so important:  Find your very own reason for making healthy choices, and remind yourself of it as often as you need to.  Having personal motivation makes the Pritikin Program your program!

Similarly, the 12-step program approach, one day at a time, really works for those of you who can’t face “never” or “ever.”  If you change the motto to “one meal or snack choice at a time,” your chances of listening to the adult in you who wants to eat to live longer and better gets through to your inner child who “lives to eat.”

This strategy, like all prescriptions, comes with one warning: If you are a compulsive, uncontrolled eater, or identify yourself as a “food addict,” this healthy-choice approach is probably not the best appoach for you.  Telling yourself each time you come up against an unhealthy food that “I can have it but I choose not to” may be overwhelming.  For you, the best way to follow the Pritkin Eating Plan requires you to always say “NO” to trigger foods.  Don’t allow yourself to feel there is any choice at all.  (Translated:  If you’re a chocoholic, don’t get near the stuff because “too much is never enough.”)  

And, for everyone, else, I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE CHOOSING TO SAY “NO” BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS WAY OF LIFE IS THE BEST ONE FOR YOUR HEALTH! The minute you see it as deprivation, you’re at risk for lapsing into unhealthy habits. Say to yourself, “I’m not deprived.  I’m enjoying all the healthy foods I’m eating, and I know every now and then I can indulge myself with a piece of chocolate.”  The point here is:  Saying “maybe, someday” enables you to say “no, not today.”

If you need to develop a strategy to make our fabulous lifestyle work for you, don’t hesitate to contact me for an evaluation and specific tips on what will make living Pritikin easy as white–flour and sugar-free pie!

Healthy Regards,
Susan Grober

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