Today I am going talk about the Seven Deadly Sins of Dieting. Deeply rooted in Catholic literature, the original seven deadly sins were gluttony, fornication, avarice, sorrow, wrath, acedia (restlessness), vanity and pride.
Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ remains on my must-read list but I have a few more books to read but I think it’s a group task, I feel as though I won’t appreciate it alone or without guidance!!
Anyway, Dante’s epic poem (written between 1308 and 1321) updated the original sins to what we are more familiar with today: gluttony, avarice, luxuria, acedia, wrath, envy and pride. However the Catholic church did away with luxuria (extravagance) and we now know (officially) the sins are: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth/acedia.
As dieters, we all are guilty of these sins but let’s remember that these ‘sins’ do not mark the end of our quest for a slim and healthy figure. You don’t need to do a penance or repent and feel guilty. All we need to do is recognise that we have made a mistake and try and not do the same thing again. I’m also going to write about the 7 Heavenly virtues so look out for that.
LUST: You spot it from all the way across the room. Your eyes savour the incredible sight before you, lingering over the subtle curves of the frosting. Yes, you have seen a piece of chocolate cake in the coffee shop and it is calling to you. Well, less calling and more bellowing and stamping it’s feet, clamouring for your attention!
It is fair to say you are experiencing lust, food lust!
How do you get past it? Well, as I’ve said previously, taking a deep beath and asking if you want it is dumb. Of course you want it! You just don’t need it, there is a difference and recognising that is half the battle. What you need to do is take control of the situation and either make a healthier choice or give in with conditions i.e. you have no more treats for a week! By making a conscious decision where you understand the future sacrifices you may have to make and feel in control of your decision, these dilemmas will gently ease and better food choices will come naturally.
PRIDE: We all know the saying “pride comes before a fall”! When you acheive a significant, or even a minor weight loss you should be proud, it would be very mean and uncharitable for anyone to rain on your parade and mutter that you “still have a long way to go”. No, pride is good but in small doses.
The trouble with pride is that we tend to reward ourselves for our good behaviour which brings good results and this is right – but we may not have broken our old habits yet and reward ourselves with edible treats that unwittingly result in a gain the following week, undoing all your hard work.
Please do be proud with achievements, shout them from the rooftops! Just don’t see weight loss results as a licence to be a little piggie and stray from the diet ‘because you deserve it’. Treat yourself to a magazine, make up or a bit of organic skincare.
GLUTTONY: Bit of an obvious one here old greed is! Any diet that says you can eat as much of you want of any food is probably one to approach with caution. There is also no such thing as negative calories! Eating tonnes of any vegetable e.g. celery is ill-advised but in moderation, it can be a nice filler snack to keep you going until your next meal.
The trick here is recognising when you are full and feeling happy to finish eating.
How many of us have kept eating even though we’re full just because we are enjoying what we’re eating. Have you ever seen a skinny person continue eating for the sake of it?
So how do you learn to recognise when you’re full and stop eating when you are?
- Eat with other people and find out how much other people eat – it’s interesting to see and if they eat less, you’ll probably eat less.
- Eat slowly, be sociable and chat to your companions. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain “stop feeding me, I’m full!”
- I don’t want to sound like your mum but chew your food properly! I am guilty of not chewing properly too so I consciously try and chew each mouthful 10 times before swallowing.
- When you chew, savour it. Surely it’s better to really enjoy a little bit rather than shovel a lot down without really noticing the taste.
- Put your knife and fork down between bites.
- Drink water as you eat. Not to fill your stomach with fluid but to ‘cleanse the palette’ so that you are able to distinguish the taste of different foods on your plate.
- Don’t be afraid to pop your dinner in the fridge and come back to it later in case you’re peckish again in an hour. The phrase ‘little and often’ comes to mind here.
AVARICE: Avarice is a funny word as it is similar to gluttony but it also encompasses other greedy behaviours such as betrayal or desire for material wealth. This could technically involve engaging in actions that hamper others’ attempts to lose weight so others will praise your efforts more.
ENVY can cause some pretty nasty actions and I cover it in a minute – but this should be pretty obviously unnacceptable greedy behaviour: telling a friend the chocolate eclairs they are eating are low fat and low calorie when they’re not.
This is a serious betrayal and counts as greedy behaviour if you are looking to get more praise for losing more weight than your friend this week for your weight loss efforts.
In a less serious example, avarice could just involve stockpiling food at home under the ‘in case of emergency’ proviso but when you keep so much food at home when there is no pressing need to, you are only opening yourself up to temptation in weaker moments.
ENVY:There comes a time during your weight loss journey that you seem to hit a plateau and everyone around you seems to be shedding pounds at a terrifying rate. It’s natural to be jealous when someone appears to be losing lots of weight when you just want to be a size 6 and wear skinny jeans.
Remember that bigger people lose weight at a quicker rate so if you go to Slimming World with a friend who is 3 stone heavier than you, she probably will lose more than 2lbs a week!
If someone does seem to be doing better than you, don’t harbour resentment because we’re all in this together! Certainly don’t act on such negative feelings. Ask your friend for any dieting tips and enjoy their successes because they’ll be equally as thrilled for you when you hit your target.
SLOTH: Of course there are days that it’s hard too even haul yourself out of bed in the winter! In the last few weeks when it has still been pitch black outside I’ve hit the snooze button in the hope that there might be some sunlight in five minutes. Unfortunately, it’s still dark when I leave for work!
There is momentary laziness when we ask the universe for five minutes more in bed on a cold morning and then there is pure sloth.
Avoid taking the stairs? Hate walking five minutes to the shop to pick up a loaf of bread? That’s laziness.
All the little things add up. If you started taking a 15 minute walk in your lunch hour, an hour’s walk after a sunday roast will feel like less of a mission. You have to work at wanting to exercise at the start of your weight loss journey but after a while, you’ll get used to it and feel terrible if you miss an exercise session.
Exercise is a vital part of losing weight so if you’re not prepared to walk up one flight of stairs, you really ought to ask yourself if you have the determination to lose the weight you need to at this stage in your life.
Many dieters experience problems with their moods when they start their weight loss plans. After all, junk food is known to contain addictive chemicals and so when you’re trying to eat healthily and get these additives and chemicals out of your body, the ‘come down’ can be just as bad for a dieter as it is for those giving up smoking.
If you believe that you may become moody and angry in the first week of your diet, warn friends, colleagues and loved ones that you may be short tempered as you are starting a diet. Get them on side to begin with so they will be more unsterstanding (and forgiving!) Be conscious that you could be in a bad mood. Distance yourself from stressful situations or difficult people and remember to apologise if you do snap at someone.