Eat the Next Meal

Don Durham, PhD, and Clinical Director at Remuda Ranch Center for Eating Disorders frequently advised the residents at the clinic to “eat the next meal”. His counsel was to women who had “acted out” their eating disorder, by binging, purging, or restricting their intake of food. He appealed to the women, that they could recover from their slip quickly by getting back on their food plan as soon as possible. “Eating the next meal,” means to eat the next snack or meal at the regularly scheduled time, no matter what you have previously eaten. The tendency, after a binge, is to eliminate or restrict food intake at the next mealtime. That, in turn, sets you up to be ravenously hungry as blood sugar levels drop. You will be more likely to overeat, starting the cycle all over again.

“Eating the next meal” also prevents the sabotaging effects of “black and white” thinking. Often times when we deviate from our food plan, we conclude that we are “off” our diet. If we have failed to live up to our expectations, we surmise that we may as well continue binging because we are no longer “on” our diet. Our minds gravitate to only two states, success (being “on our diet”) or failure (being “off our diet”). When we go “off” our diet, we lose momentum to adhere to our food plan. Sometimes we can go days, weeks, and even months before we are able to get back “on” the diet. Needless to say, this can have disastrous effects on our weight and our health as we develop the “yo-yo syndrome”. When we finally get back “on” the diet, we zealously and religiously adhere to the plan, until we slip up again. Because we are “on” the diet again, we are convinced that we will be successful and that we will never deviate from it again, displaying “black and white thinking” once again.

When we “eat the next meal”, we are taking life one meal at a time and therefore, not reinforcing the addictive “all or nothing” mindset. We will avoid the swings in behavior, the fluctuation in weight, and the frustration of never making progress towards our health and fitness goals.

The next time that you deviate from your food plan, tell yourself the truth about what has just happened:

  1. It is NATURAL to deviate at times from your plan. You are human and this is a chosen lifestyle, not merely a diet.
  2. Deviating from your food plan is NO BIG DEAL. You will not gain weight or set yourself back with one slip.
  3. You CAN get right back on your food plan. You do NOT need to continue binging! (“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ).
  4. You do not need to SABATOGE your success. You can continue moving forward towards your weight loss goals!

Remember, that the goal is PROGRESS, not PERFECTION!

This article is by Jennifer Cecil, M.Ed., LPC