Do Not Fall Victim To False Hope Syndrome
We all have been there…
“Monday I am going to start running before work in the morning and eat salads for lunch and dinner”
“I am not going to drink for the next 2 months so I look great for my cousin’s wedding”
“No added sugar or refined carbohydrates starting January 1st, this will be the best year yet!”
How long do these behavioral changes last, or do they ever get past the initial yearning/thought? Week after week, my fellow dietitians and I at LBS Nutrition LLC listen to many people who state how they planned to start eating ‘healthier’ or work out, but they “just never got to it.”
Life tends to have a way of, well, getting in the way.
So my question is why? Why are these goals unable to be met? There must be something holding us back. We can blame external events such as work and social pressures, but the truth lies in our personal values and willingness to commit to these lifestyle changes. Maybe we need to work on rephrasing our health goals and restructuring the game plan.
The article attached, Does ‘false hope syndrome’ make it hard to lose weight? By Juli Fraga parallels how many feel when they continuously perceive they are failing at achieving a goal, whether it is public speaking or losing weight. Often we set ourselves up for failure by jumping into broad resolutions without really analyzing how these goals reflect our values and genuine willingness to commit to the changes necessary to achieve the end product.
ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy), as discussed in the article, provides us with an effective structure to rephrase and restructure our goals. No longer will false hope syndrome hold us back!
Summer is coming… so lets review some ACT principles to make sure your goals become reality!
Sample goal: To eat breakfast daily- NO MORE SKIPPING!
What are the barriers?
- I need to be at work by 7 am so I have trouble waking up early enough to make breakfast.
- I am not very hungry and feel nauseous when I wake up
- Traffic is heavy in the mornings so I often do not have time to stop and buy something or am in a rush to make it there on time
Does this goal align with my values?
- I really enjoy eating breakfast on weekends when I have time
- I feel energized and usually eat better throughout the rest of the day when I eat breakfast
- I cherish sleep and will not wake up much earlier to make breakfast, as then I will lack sleep and feel exhausted
What emotions may come along?
- Improved energy from eating breakfast, but less energy if waking up much earlier
- I often feel anxious about everything I need to do in the day so making breakfast adds another stressor
- Confusion about what composes a “balanced” breakfast
To make sure this goal is compatible to the individual’s values, barriers, and emotions, an action plan must be made that is detailed, measurable and realistic.
- Prepare breakfast options on Sunday night that can easily be taken and eaten on the road or when at work (hard boiled eggs, make mini protein/oat muffins, Greek yogurt with nuts or high fiber granola, pre-made or make your own protein shake, trail mix, cottage cheese and fruit with a sprinkle of flaxseed)
- Morning food preparation for this individual should not take more than 3-5 minutes to ensure long term success as he or she highly values sleep and current wake up time.
- Talk with a dietitian about easy to prepare ‘balanced’ options that can be made at home and kept/ made at work
- Protein shake! It takes 2-3 minutes with the right ingredients and equipment. Or you can even make it the night before!
As seen, your goals must be approached in a unique fashion depending on your values, emotions and potential hurdles. It is essential to meet with a registered dietitian to best structure your individualized, nutrition-based goals to make them most realistic and compatible to your life.
You can check out the article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/does-false-hope-syndrome-make-it-hard-to-lose-weight/2017/03/17/cbb7a038-ea30-11e6-80c2-30e57e57e05d_story.html?utm_term=.51026321b55b