or, A habit-busting method must pass these five tests.
In my experience, both personal and working with clients, breaking the habits of overeating and bingeing are so hard, psychologically, that whatever method we use to break our habit needs to be easy in every other respect.
I cannot count the number of methods I've tried to lose weight, keep it off, and stop obsessing about food and eating and the ways they kept me Less Than the rest of humanity. The only thing I've found that has worked is the method I'm calling Body of Knowledge.
I can recommend it 100 percent because it passes the tests of effectiveness, simplicity, flexibility, dignity and sustainability.
Let's look at these qualities one by one.
Does the method work? Does it actually result in the end of food obsession and weight preoccupation?
Our method can’t work like a diet “works.” It can’t leave us hungry while we’re doing it, and fatter when we stop. It’s got to result in permanent weight loss. It must never, ever foster self-hate. It’s got to give us better physical and mental health.
And it’s got to have the science to back it up. Not wishes.
Is it easy enough to do consistently? If the method is complex, we’ll only do it when nothing else needs our attention, e.g. a cold day in hell.
Our method has to be something we could do on our worst day. Even if we have ADD. And chronic illness. And we’re gonna be on the road for the next six weeks.
So there can’t be any binder full of rules. It's gotta be dead simple.
Can we use the method under any circumstances? On holiday. At Christmas. Crunch time at work. Trekking in Tasmania. Even while sick.
The method has to be adaptable to all the circumstances we might find ourself in. Any method that depends on stars aligning, aka requiring us to adapt to it, is worthless.
Is the method virtually undetectable? Or does it call attention to what we’re doing? Methods that put us in the spotlight are hard to distinguish from food preoccupation and may provoke shame.
Public weighing, counting, measuring, or logging just invite commentary and pushback. Most of us have had quite enough community participation in our eating problems.
We don't want any methods that undermine our autonomy, dignity and adulthood.
When we break a habit for good, real freedom is the result. And still, often, there is a faint shadow of the habit that’s part of us. Kinda like a phantom limb.
So we may find that our habit is something we need to keep a tiny bit of attention on for the rest of our life. If that’s the case, we’re going to need a very lightweight method.
We’ve all got enough burdens to carry, so let’s use a method that’s no more demanding than turning on your porch light.