7 Reasons Why Dieters Give Up (And How YOU Can Make It Happen This Year)

scaleMost of us understand that “New Year’s resolutions” rarely last into mid-January – much less for the entire year!

What goes wrong?

And more importantly…how can YOU avoid the typical traps?

Here are 7 of the most important reasons dieters give up on goals and on themselves.

1. Ownership

“I wasn’t sure that this approach would work in the first place. I tried it out – I couldn’t stick to it, so it didn’t do me any good. As I guessed, this was a waste of time! “

One of the biggest mistakes in all of dieting is to shift from one approach to the next, trying out one approach or another, but never really sticking to one thing.

Most diets hold out the promise that “this will be easy and painless and make you slimmer.” What people don’t want to face is the real problem. It is seldom the diet itself or the dieter. The real problem is the underlying reason why diets are impossible to follow. That is, almost no one has the willpower to follow a diet consistently.

And that is why diets are notorious for producing only temporary success. But when the diet fails, we blame ourselves. Diets have a 95% failure rate. Yet because we achieved temporary success, we blame ourselves rather than the diet that is near impossible to follow.

The problem with the “this will make you slimmer” approach is that the emphasis is on the “this” and not the “you.” Ultimately only you can make you slimmer and healthier. Healthy eating is a lifelong process. The more you commit to behavior change because you believe in the process, the more the process is likely to work for you.

In other words, change needs to happen internally, without relying on external pressures or limitations. The more you feel the diet is being imposed upon you or that you are just casually “trying it out,” the less likely the process is to work.

Health coaches that have the greatest success in helping clients achieve long-term change have learned a great lesson – don’t work with clients who don’t “buy in” to the process.

Personally, I prefer intentions to goals, because intentions come from “inside” the client and are not just externally imposed without any clear internal commitment. Clients who want to achieve any goal, such as weight loss, know that they are ultimately responsible for their own success.

2. Time

“I had no idea that this process would take so long. I am not sure that it is worth it!”
Dieters have a natural tendency to underestimate the time needed to reach a goal.

Everything seems to take longer than we think that it should! When a goal takes longer than we think it should, then it’s easy to feel defeated, get discouraged and be tempted to give up the goal.

Busy, impatient people who are used to achieving success quickly can be even more time-sensitive than the general population. Harried dieters often want to “check the box” and assume that once they understand what to do, their problems are solved. If only the real world were that simple.

In setting goals, it is important to be realistic about the time needed to achieve a positive, long-term change in behavior. Habits that have taken 48 years to develop will not go away in a week.

Most people want to be 3 sizes smaller yesterday. But when time frames are realistic and as you face challenges along the way with the support of your coach, then you don’t feel like there is something wrong with you.

Setbacks are a normal part of the change process. Ultimately as your behaviors and habits shift to a new normal, weight and health start to change as well.

3. Difficulty

“This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. It sounded so simple when we were starting out!”

Not only does everything take longer than we think it will – it requires more hard work! Dieters often confuse two terms that appear to be the same, but are actually quite different – simple and easy.

We want to believe that once we understand a simple concept, it will be easy to follow a plan and achieve the outcome we want. If this were true, everyone who understood that they should eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly would be in good shape. Diet books are almost always at the top of the best seller lists.

Most dieters know what to do. The steps to getting healthy and in shape are quite simple. But our challenge for getting healthier and in shape is not in understanding what to do. It is doing it consistently!

Long-term change requires real effort. For example, it can be challenging for busy people to have the discipline to change long-term habits. Even when we understand the need to change and have a great desire to change, it is still hard to hang in there consistently to do what it takes to change.

In setting goals it is important to realize and accept that real change will take real work. Accepting the diet promise that “this will be easy” and “this will be no problem for you” can backfire in the long-term when you realize that change is not easy and you will face some problems in the journey.

Change invariably has a cost. This cost is why many people never get started or don’t stick to a plan. The cost may be eating less of foods you love or changing portion sizes and working to become more aware of your emotions and stress triggers that cause the urge to eat. In some cases, other people may not be happy if you lose weight.

Understanding the price of success in the beginning of the change process will help prevent disappointment that can occur when challenges arise later in the change process.

4. Distractions

“I would really like to work toward my goal, but I really have a lot going on right now… It might be better if I just stopped and did this at a time when things weren’t so crazy.”

Dieters have a tendency to underestimate the distractions and competing goals that will invariably show up once you set the goal.

A good coach can warn you that something may come up to throw you off course. This distraction could be an unexpected problem or an opportunity. If you assume that unexpected distractions and competing goals will occur, then you’ll feel more prepared when it happens. By planning for distractions in advance, dieters can set realistic expectations for change and be less likely to give up on the change process when either special problems or special opportunities emerge.

5. Rewards

“Why am I working so hard at this? After all of my effort, no one’s even noticing.”
Dieters tend to become disappointed when the achievement of one goal doesn’t immediately translate into the achievement of other goals. For example, a dieter who loses weight may give up on the weight loss effort when no one takes notice. Or worse, when the attention gained makes you uncomfortable.

There’s usually some desire beyond just losing the weight.

What do you want the weight loss to do for you? Make you more confident, more socially at ease or comfortable in a love relationship?

Sometimes weight loss can help with those things, but not always. And if that is what you are trying to achieve, then you can be going down the wrong road, which will only help you fail faster.

We want what we want for how we think it will make us feel.

If that feeling is not achieved, then it’s easy to get discouraged. To combat this, if you want weight loss to help you feel more confident, then think about what you can do to feel more confident now.

Think of any long-term goal, like weight loss, as an investment in yourself and your own development – something that will give you confidence in yourself over time.

6. Not taking a holistic approach

“I just want to lose weight quickly and not think about anything else.”

Losing weight is far more than “eat less, exercise more.” In fact, I tell my clients that weight loss is about your whole life.

When you set a weight loss goal, all the focus goes on the weight. Unfortunately the number on the scale is not something you can easily control. So it’s better to take a holistic approach and look at every area of your life that may need an upgrade.

Do you need to reduce stress or improve a relationship? Many people need to work on improving life skills, such as assertiveness and managing feelings and stress without reaching for donuts.

Unless you work on these areas alongside the weight goal, the success you achieve may be short lived.

7. Maintenance – not taking a long-term approach.

“I did better when I had a coach, but I have let it slide since then. What am I supposed to do – work on this stuff the rest of my life?”

Once a dieter has put in all of the effort needed to achieve a goal, it can be tough to face the reality of maintaining changed behavior. One of the first reactions of many dieters upon reaching their weight goal is to think, “This is great! Now I can eat again. Let’s celebrate with some pizza tonight!” Of course this mindset leads to future weight gain and the “yo-yo” effect that is unfortunately so common in dieters.

Weight loss is a process – not a state. Even when we get to a certain number on the scale, there are certain challenges. Most dieters say that it’s harder to maintain the weight than to lose it.

Goals like losing weight are more of a marathon, not a sprint. It’s better to embrace the messiness of life and the fact that there is always something to work on and learn and develop in ourselves than just focusing on getting there quickly.

The shift I made:

I used to begin every January with an intense focus and determination to lose weight. This goal meant that I had to try to control many areas of my life. My focus invariably disappeared as the messiness and uncontrollability of life quickly reasserted itself.
When I shifted my focus from losing weight to improving my health and my relationship with food, paradoxically that is when my weight started to change.

Rather than using a weight goal, I focused on upgrading my health, reducing stress and simplifying my routines, so that I could enjoy my life more. I focused on becoming kinder, more compassionate and forgiving while I was slowly learning how to let go of unhealthy habits.

Eating healthy is a lifelong goal. Eating better is something we can work on every day. It doesn’t occur because someone “got better” and stayed in this state of “betterness” forever.

In Summary

You can either set goals that increase your probability of long-term change, or goals that may feel good in the short-term, but lead to disillusionment and “giving up” in the long-term.
In reality there are no “easy answers.” There is only learning about yourself and being willing to let yourself be in the process of learning and growing. Maybe you aren’t exactly where you want to be yet. But you can always be in the process of learning and improving your health and wellbeing.

Real change requires real commitment, real effort and real time. Distractions and stress are going to occur. The “quick fix” is never a long-term fix and probably not a healthy fix at all. Losing weight and getting in shape will not solve all of life’s problems, but they can be made simpler.

And we need to commit to lifelong learning and development of our most precious asset – ourselves, our health and our wellbeing.

Deep down, we know these truths, and yet we are drawn to the promise of the quick fix!
But we are also drawn to want to be our best selves and to make solid changes we can count on.

Weight loss is an issue where most people have had more failure than success. Successful people are not afraid of challenging goals, even when they have failed in the past.

But what’s needed is a realistic look at what needs to change, and then working steadily toward where you want to be. You don’t have to do it alone. You only have to commit to the path. A coach is a mentor who can help you build and maintain the belief that this goal is possible, in spite of distractions, tempting food, and unexpected challenges or opportunities.

This goal is possible both in spite of you and your natural tendency to go off course and because of you, and your determination to be the best you can be.

Don’t settle for the quick answers or the sprint mindsets. Your health and wellbeing are too important.

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3 Strategies To Handle Holiday Parties

Every holiday season, I start to think about how to handle the social events on my holiday calendar. It gets me thinking about what strategies I use to manage my eating during these “potentially” treacherous times.

There are 3 basic strategies.

First of all, you can “save up” calories by not eating all day, knowing there will be lots of goodies. This strategy is akin to using a point system, where you save points and use them whenever you want. So you can eat very little during the day and use them all in one sitting if you want.

I think this is a BIG mistake.

If I go to a holiday party starving, I am AT the appetizers almost before I get in the door. Then it just keeps going all night because there is more a feeling of needing to catch up. To me, starving yourself all day is a form of deprivation, which sets you up for binging at night. It is almost like a one-day mini-diet.

The second strategy is just the opposite. Do NOT starve yourself all day long, but instead, eat moderately so that you don’t go to the party totally starving. This is the strategy I recommend most of the time.

If you eat moderately during the day, you will not feel deprived when you get to the party. You will be more able to pick and choose. Even though there will be visual cues to eat, you will be more able to eat mindfully, enjoy the food and focus on tasting the foods that you really want.

Then you can still have what you want most, and are less likely to overeat. And I don’t mean just having a taste of something, although sometimes that is all that it takes to satisfy your hunger.

The secret is trying foods if you really want them, not necessarily finishing them, but really getting a taste so that you don’t feel deprived. I will often take a lot of different foods just because they look so good. But I only eat the ones that really taste good and that I truly want at the time. I try not to eat foods that I don’t really enjoy just because they are there.

If you eat mindfully and stay conscious, then eating more of the same thing doesn’t add any more to the experience – it only adds bulk.

The problem with most holiday foods is that they are laden with carbohydrates, which sets you up for craving more carbohydrates and continuing the cycle. So make sure you get adequate protein to help control your appetite and get back to eating normally the next day.

If you overeat, relax and learn.

Use this information to make your choices the next time you are in that situation. Don’t yell at yourself or use it as an excuse to binge. A few holiday parties can be handled quite nicely if you stay calm.

Remember that there will always be more chances to eat successfully and feel good about it. So don’t get too down on yourself if you happen to overeat at one event.
One of the most common questions I get goes like this –

“Once I get started eating something I like, I never want to stop until it’s too late and I have eaten too much and I feel horrible. It has NOTHING to do with hunger. How Do I STOP eating once I start?”

Being able to disengage from foods you love is certainly a learned skill. It takes awareness and practice. The problem, of course, is that your stomach doesn’t give you the signal to stop eating right away — especially with carbohydrates.

AND the food can look and taste so good, that you choose to ignore the signals even if you notice them. So it’s EASY to overeat.

Start by being really, really honest with yourself.

The truth is . . . even if you are very hungry, it doesn’t take a lot of food to satisfy physiological hunger. The goal is to get a perfect match between:
1. your hunger level
2. what you are hungry for and
3. what you actually eat.

Sometimes I feel disappointed when my hunger goes away so quickly. Darn! I was looking forward to eating more . . . but I have also learned to let go.

The ideal behavior is to stop eating when the hunger signals go away. To do this, you have to be tuned into your hunger/satiety signals. Many people have ignored them for so long, they don’t even think they have them anymore. And you have to be WILLING to stop eating at this point. So how do you do that?

The 10-Minute Solution

Here’s something to try . . . I call it the 10-Minute Solution.

1. Serve yourself a small portion on a small plate (tell yourself you can always have more) OR serve yourself a larger portion and be willing to toss it in the middle. Take a note from children. They only eat what tastes good, no matter what. girl-eating

2. Eat mindfully (remember, the goal is to taste every bite) and assess your hunger after every forkful.

3. When you no longer feel hungry, put down your fork, put the plate away and leave the table if you can.

4. Distract yourself – talk to a friend or relative, admire the decorations, go to the powder room, etc. and wait 10 minutes.

By then, you should be receiving more signals from your stomach that reflect your true fullness. Remember, you don’t have to feel full, just pleasantly satisfied. And remember, no food is leaving the planet . . .

Oh, I almost forgot – my third strategy? Skip the party! Some holiday parties have simply outlived their usefulness. You go every year and dread it. You have my permission (not that you need it) to do something kind for yourself and skip it this year.

Use the time to do something that is more relaxing or enjoyable to you.
Oh, and don’t forget to have fun . . .

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How To Stop Eating Junk Food

I have mad love for Michael Pollan and his book “Food Rules.” I have basically tried to follow these rules myself, and encourage my family to do so as well.

To me, these are perfectly reasonable rules. Take this, for example –

It's not food if

And this —

Don't get

He points out that gas stations now make more money inside selling food and cigarettes than they do outside selling gasoline. But consider what kind of food this is…


The most difficult part for some people, however, is to stop eating junk food.

Michael offers a simple answer for this.


This is the main rule I try to abide by, and I have been able to hack into all of my old unhealthy recipes and make them over to make them over without grain or processed sugar. However, since cooking and baking takes time, many people are unwilling to do this.
Here is a solution to the time problem:


2 Words: Trail Mix

Trail mix (homemade, of course,) takes less than 5 minutes to make. It satisfies both sweet and salty cravings.

And, it’s both filling and nutritious. If you drink coffee, tea or water with a handful of trail mix, you will feel full without feeling bloated.

And better yet, in research studies people who eat nuts lose more weight than people who don’t.

It’s because nuts have both protein and fiber. Filling, delicious and satisfying!

And one more thing – it’s easy to keep on hand, and portable. You don’t want to get caught out somewhere without food. Carry it with you all the time, and you will never get stuck starving without a snack. That’s when much unintentional overeating occurs.

So go make a big batch right now!


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Don’t Waste Your Willpower On Food

Brian Wansink (Mindless Eating) says that we make 200 food decisions every day.

Decision-making depletes our willpower.

So for many of us, we are using up the very resource that we need to make healthy choices and avoid defaulting to easy, less-than-healthy junk food.

Self-control / willpower is a good asset to strengthen, of course. But we need to conserve this asset to get through a stressful day.

What’s the answer?

My answer is to set up my life so that I don’t need willpower. With a little bit of time, effort and planning, you can do the same thing.

The first thing to do is create substitutes for your favorite foods, and be willing to make them yourself, so you can always have them on hand.

Of course, you can use tools, like tapping, to get through any tempting situation.

But if you are willing to take the time and effort, you can create healthy substitutes that are equally satisfying, such as 3-ingredient ice cream with chocolate drizzle.


3-Ingredient Ice Cream With Chocolate Drizzle (Serves 2)

For the Ice Cream

3 Bananas (sliced and frozen)
2 tsp. Cocoa or cacao powder (unsweetened)
1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter (or other nut butter)

For The Chocolate Drizzle

1 Tbsp. Cocoa or cacao powder (unsweetened)
1 Tbsp. Coconut oil (melted)
1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

1. Put the frozen banana slices into a food processor and process for 5-6 minutes until creamy and smooth. You will need to keep stopping and pushing the bananas down the sides.

2. Add the cocoa powder and peanut butter and process until smooth.

3. Mix the drizzle ingredients together and serve. Voila!

Whatever you do, don’t waste your limited supply of willpower on food. It’s unnecessary – if you take the time to make your own sweet and satisfying treats. In my book, cultivating willingness goes a lot further than depending on your limited supply of willpower.

Ice cream, anyone?

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The #1 Anti-Cancer Vegetable

What’s the #1 anti-cancer vegetable?

If you are going to eat vegetables (and you should :-),

you might as well do yourself some good by eating the right stuff.

Watch this short video to find out (very informative!)


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My 2-Ingredient Ice Cream

Watch this hilarious video with Brian Regan talking about Food Labels and portion sizes. It’s so true!

It got me thinking about how much I love ice cream!

Check this out!


2-Ingredient Raspberry Ice Cream

1 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (Plain)

Blend these 2 ingredients together in a small food processor and amazingly – you have ice cream!

How simple is that?


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This Made Me Cry!

Finally! Some help for children with Epilepsy (and lots of other things too.) Our states are finally passing laws that make sense. This is amazing!

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Mind Over Milkshakes: How Your Mind Can Change Your Metabolism

Ever try to change your metabolism?

Heh – it’s not that easy.

Or is it?

Maybe you just went about it the wrong way.

Psychologist Alia Crum’s research, dubbed the “Mind Over Milkshakes” experiment, shows that changing your digestion, and possibly your metabolism is only a matter of using your mind.

On 2 separate occasions, participants consumed a 380-calorie milkshake under the pretense that it was either a 620-calorie “indulgent” shake (“Decadence You Deserve”) or a 140-calorie “sensible” shake (“Guilt-free Satisfaction.”)

When participants were led into having an indulgent mindset, it actually affected their digestion. They had a dramatically steeper decline in ghrelin than those who thought they were consuming a “sensible” milkshake. Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone” that is responsible for us seeking food and becoming ravenous when hungry.

Ghrelin is the hormone that causes us to reach for another cookie just because we remember how good the last one tasted. People given this hormone in studies become so ravenous that they eat markedly more than their usual food intake. In short, ghrelin is one the driving forces of overeating.

While eating, ghrelin levels normally change, spiking downwards, basically speeding up your metabolism and telling you that you are full.

When ghrelin levels are low after a large meal, we feel satisfied and no longer seek out food. In Crum’s studies, the ghrelin levels of participants who “thought” they were drinking an indulgent 620-calorie shake dramatically decreased. The participants felt more satisfied than those who “thought” they were drinking a “sensible” shake.

In fact, both groups drank the same milkshake. The only difference was how the shakes were labeled. The “sensible” shake was labeled as having no fat, no added sugar and low calorie. Ghrelin levels in these participants were unchanged.

What this means is that your beliefs may have a more significant impact on driving down your appetite than the actual calorie count. This finding shows one reason why “diet” foods do not help us lose weight. They don’t give us the signal that we are satisfied and it’s time to stop eating.

Even though salads can be quite indulgent, for instance, many people can’t get themselves to eat it because it reminds them of dieting. Or it just doesn’t seem like a “satisfying” meal.

Other people think they are eating “light” when they order salad, and then piling on the dressing and rich toppings. If you “think” your salad is rich and indulgent, you may get the added benefit of feeling full and satisfied, regardless of the calorie count.

Food labeling is a tangled mess easily manipulated by the food industry. A product may be labeled “low-fat” (because it is lower in fat than a full fat option) but still be a high-fat food. A food product might be a good source of fiber but still have a sugar content that is exorbitantly high.

What does seem true is that:

1. The old metabolic formula “calories in…calories out” has a few more holes punched in it.
2. Labels are not just labels. They evoke a set of beliefs.
3. There are no idle beliefs. We don’t give them enough credit for how much they influence our physiology.

We’ve always known that our minds are powerful. Maybe now, we just need to practice how we think about what we eat. I’d say that it’s a lot easier to fool your stomach by using your mindset than to change your metabolism using exercise alone.

It may come down to how we think about salad.

Eat healthy. Think indulgent 🙂

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Dear Sugar, I’m Breaking Up With You

Dear Sugar,

I’m breaking up with you.

You’re my bad habit, my secret addiction, and I don’t like myself when I’m with you.

It’s not me.goodbye2

It’s you.

Yes, you are tempting and sweet in the moment, but it’s hard to avoid overindulging…

and overindulging doesn’t make me feel good.

You are draining my energy.

Exhausting me.

And when I’m with you, I get that same sluggish feeling as I do with a glass of wine.

So I have decided that you are a drug and I don’t want to be addicted. I don’t need anything that makes me feel regretful and hungover after I’ve indulged.

I’m dumping you.

Yes, I may feel withdrawal, but it’s not nearly as bad as giving in to your temptation and how that makes me feel about myself.

It’s not nearly as bad as running from my feelings and stuffing them with sweets.

It’s not nearly as bad as spending my whole life numbing my pain and choosing the brief, but costly reprieve for my problems.

Yes, I may feel deprived. But so what?

Who promised me a life without feeling deprived?

I am stronger than I give myself credit.

And you know what?

It’s part of being human.

I embrace my humanity and all the feelings that are a part of it.

If I’m not attempting to avoid them, numb them or control them, then I can actually feel what it means to be human.

What if I just make space for those feelings?

If I do that, then they can dissolve quickly, easily and naturally, without my attempts to control.

All I need to do is allow and accept and know that this is part of life.

Feelings are part of being human.

Is this final?

Sugar, this is not about abstinence. It’s about choice.

I choose to take care of myself. I choose to create my own sweetness. And once I get out of the habit, I don’t think I’m going to miss you very much.

Sure, we can still hangout sometimes… in small doses. I’ve never been much for cutting someone out of my life completely. That just feels too restrictive.

But you are no longer my only sweetness. stress-eating-list1

You can no longer fill in the empty spaces where my loneliness resides.

I don’t need you to feel good.

I don’t need you to have sweetness in my life, or to soothe my tired, aching feelings.

I don’t need you to soothe the places where my heart is shattered.

I don’t need you as a mute button on my crazy whacked-out life.

You can hang out with me sometimes… but I definitely need some space.

For right now.


I choose to feel my feelings.

I choose to face whatever is there that I haven’t been facing up to.

I choose to face everything that I can’t control.

And to let it be.

Will it make me want you even more?


But remember, you are not the only sweetness in my life.

Don’t try to make up.

You say you can take away my pain and my loneliness.

You say you can comfort me.

You say we’ve been together so long. Who will fill in?

Don’t try to make up.

I’ve fallen for your empty promises too many times.

I’m stronger than I give myself credit.

I’ve been dependent on you far too long.

You say you are my friend and you’ll never be the harsh critic I may have to face in the world.

That may be true.

But I am ready to face the world with a clear head.

I want my freedom.

You say you will always be there for me.

You say you can soothe my hurt feelings.

I see you for what you really are.

A sweet obsession.

And I’m not falling for it.

You exist in so many places.

But mostly, you live in my head.

You are no longer my everything.

Because I don’t need you to be my everything.

This is about how I show up in my own life.

What I am willing to feel.

And what I feel worthy of having.

This is about knowing what I need and being willing to give it to myself.

Sugar, I’m not perfect.

This is about knowing I don’t need to be perfect.

I can have slip-ups, knowing –

I am stronger than I give myself credit.

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I Just Can’t Resist Sweets

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients is this:

“I just can’t resist sweets. How do you just say no to certain foods?”

Personally, I’ve weaned myself off of most grains and sugar, which does NOT mean that I am perfect or that I have stopped eating sweets – no way!

I still crave treats like anyone else.

Try this pumpkin gingerbread cake, for instance! Or my chocolate chunk scones.

No matter what food is calling your name this holiday season, here’s my guide for passing it up, without feeling deprived.

You’ll need 3 things, so put these on your gift list to yourself.

1. The Gift of Willingness

Are you willing to make your own healthy substitutes?

No matter what you love, there’s a simple, healthier version. That means being willing to take the time to research it and create substitutes for the rich, fattening version that disturbs your waistline.

If you are willing to do this, then you won’t ever feel deprived. And there won’t be any struggle about whether to have something or not. Freedom!

2. The Gift of Planning

Are you willing to make a plan for any event that may be challenging? If you are, then you will always feel prepared and calm. (Hint: Tap before all events – mandatory!)

Your plan may include sampling your favorites, sharing dessert, or bringing your own (see #1). If you minimize grains and sugar, you’ll feel good leaving the party. Success!

3. The Gift of Mindfulness

The last thing you want to do is go unconscious during a social event that is loaded with carb-dense foods. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve overeaten and then having to wait several hours to feel better. If you stay mindful, eat slowly and savor every bite, then you will feel satisfied and in control at the end of the meal without overeating.

Best of all, instead of feeling defeated, you’ll feel GOOD about yourself, with a growing confidence that you are the type of person who can do this.

And that is the best success of all!

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