December is a time for parties, traditional meals, gifts of chocolate and homemade baking and vacations. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s also the season that can feel challenging for those who are striving to develop and maintain positive eating behaviours.
Replacing all or nothing thinking patterns with an ‘80/20 Mindset’ for food choices is a valuable cognitive behavioural strategy. The compassionate, flexible and realistic ‘80/20 Mindset’ can be especially helpful at this time of year.
Lori, an RN, Behavioural Health Consultant and Craving Change clinician, works at a Primary Care Network clinic. She recently taught one of her clients the 80/20 strategy.
“My client was concerned about managing her eating on Christmas Day. She would be spending the day at an extended family’s home and dinner would consist of a variety of traditional dishes. We discussed the importance of the day and how food does play a large part in the celebration and enjoyment of Christmas. The concept of not needing to be 100% perfect was introduced and that some flexibility can be beneficial for long term behaviour change. I introduced her to the ‘80/20 Mindset’. She understood that she could plan to choose foods that she enjoyed the most, including her traditional favourites, over ones that she could take or leave. She reflected that she didn’t feel that there was an imposed expectation to eat everything that was offered. My client felt empowered and was enthusiastic about trying the strategy.
I asked her to keep some anecdotal notes about her experience using this cognitive-behavioural strategy. I’d like to expand my client’s CBT skills by teaching her the Positive Self-talk strategy. I sense that she could learn to use her ‘interior talk’ to reinforce her 80/20 eating behaviour without feeling guilty.”