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Anticipated Deprivation

When you think about changing your eating habits, that’s usually a time when you think about missing out on your favorite foods. 

It can be really hard to let go of a favorite food when you know that you’re going to miss it, even when you know you’re better off for giving it up. 

The idea of giving up a food can bring about feelings of what I call “anticipated deprivation”….the thoughts, feelings, and reactions surrounding how you predict you will feel when you don’t have that favorite food anymore. 

The deprivation can even be about your relationships and how you will cope with social occasions, or wondering how other people will react to your changes. 

What Can You Do?

Remember You Have Choices

The concerns that you have about anticipated deprivation are normal and real. However, you can also imagine other thoughts, feelings, and reactions that you can have. You can also imagine other people’s reactions differently. 

Imagine choices are like furniture in a room. 

Imagine that one chair represents the negative, worrisome thoughts that you’re having. 

You’re staring at the chair, and your back is turned to all the other furniture in the room. 

The other furniture represents the other thoughts, feelings, and reactions that you can have. 

Even though you are staring at the negative chair, the other chairs and furniture still exist. 

Just like the chairs, you have a room full of other thoughts, feelings, and reactions available to you. 

Turn Around and Look 

Take some time to meditate and consider some of the other thoughts, feelings, and reactions that you can have that might be more neutral, or even more positive. 

Even if you can’t imagine a believable positive option, then look for the middle….a more balanced approach. 

It’s OK if you can’t believe positive things yet because you’ve had too much evidence to the contrary…to negative things. 

Finding the middle can mean something like telling yourself, “Even though I might feel a bit anxious, I can handle my emotions and find a way to deal with it.” 

Have some options available for when you get a strong reaction to missing a food so that you have some planned “go-to” ways of coping, such as calling a friend, taking a walk, cleaning a closet, or doing something fun (a hobby or enjoying nature). 

Other People’s Comments

It’s really normal to worry about how to deal with other people’s comments that can be very unsupportive and even destructive. Just remember that there can be other outcomes, and you have choices about how you can respond. 

When it comes to other people’s comments or lack of support, you can plan some responses that can help neutralize the interaction and turn the conversation to other topics. Imagine and rehearse things you can say that will help you just steer the conversation. 

Simple comments such as “Thank you for noticing” and then pay the person a compliment and ask them an open ended question (maybe about their job, family, or hobby). 

Remember to be proud of yourself, and stay strong in your conviction of having a healthier lifestyle. You can cope better when you give yourself lots of options!!!

by Diana Zilly, MS, MA, LCPC, NBCFCH. Diana is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Fellow in Clinical Hypnotherapy, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Joliet Junior College.