As the name suggests, and the last chapters sort of implied, the basic idea of flexible dieting is that you aren't expecting absolute perfection and strictness in your dieting behavior. Rather, small (or even larger) lapses from your diet simply aren't any big deal in the big scheme of things.
Once again, let's put dieting into perspective here. Let's say that you have enough fat to lose that you may be dieting for one half to one year straight. Let's say that you've been absolutely great on your diet for the last 4-5 days or even the last few weeks. Now you come up against one of those situations that I mentioned in the foreword.
Say you eat that single cookie. In the big scheme of things, what's the big deal, really? So you had 100 calories extra from that cookie. Within the context of the period of proper eating (proper means following whatever diet you're on), that 100 calories is simply no big deal. Now, if you take that 100 calorie lapse as an excuse to eat the entire bag, to the tune of 1000 calories, you've just taken what is no big deal and made it into one.
Or let's look at a slightly different perspective. Say you've been on your diet just perfectly for the last 4-5 days (or longer). Now you get a craving for something sweet. Those cookies are calling but you're afraid that the one cookie is going to blow your entire diet. You resist and resist and resist until finally you give in and, because of the huge cravings you've now generated, you end up eating the whole bag. Which generates the same, if not more, guilt to boot and you throw your diet out the window. That's an example of the types of rigid dieting that tends to derail dieting efforts. Contrast that to changing your mental attitude: you want a cookie, you have one cookie, you realize that it's no big deal in the big scheme of things, you deal with the craving before it gets out of hand and then get on with your life. The latter attitude would be consistent with flexible dieting.
Or say you've been dieting and you've got a special even coming up. A birthday, a dinner party, whatever. Now, if you're still in the rigid mindset, you'll either go to the party and be miserable because you don't get to eat any of the good stuff or you'll decide that your diet is clearly blown and go off of it completely and shovel as much crap down your throat as you possibly can.
Again, let's look at the long-term perspective: can a single meal really be that relevant to your overall diet (again, remember that you may have one half to a full year of dieting to reach your goal)? Of course not. If you've been following your diet properly for the past 4-5 days (or weeks or whatever), that single meal is simply no big deal. Unless you make it into one.
A flexible dieter would realize that that single meal is no big deal, go enjoy themselves at the party and get on with their life. They might try to limit their intake (don't go have 4 pieces of cake or anything like that) at the party or even earlier in the day but they would still enjoy themselves at the party.
Consider the final example from the foreword, a situation where you have an extended period where following your diet will be more difficult. Perhaps it's a family vacation, a cruise, something along those lines. Holidays always tend to be miserable times for dieters, with regular parties and an extended period where it's nearly impossible to keep on your diet.
There actually a couple of workable approaches to this type of situation. One is to simply do the best you can, damage control if it were. Even if you maintain your current diet for most of the time (even if it's only 2 meals out of 3), that's still better than blowing your diet and shoveling down as much crap as you can at every meal, right? But that's not the only option here; there's a second option I'm going to describe next.
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