Help for handling high-risk food situations

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Help for handling high-risk food situations

Several high-risk situations create challenges for every weight controller. Think about holidays, think about going over to friends’ houses for parties, think about traveling, think about eating out at restaurants – these are all… for weight controllers this is time to get on alert and to really think about what you’re doing. They create problems, because they’re very high fat environments, they’re environments where people, when adults involved might be drinking or relaxing or goofing around. That’s not the attitude for an athlete, that’s not the attitude for a weight controller typically that produces the best results. It doesn’t mean you can’t go to parties, can’t go out to eat. It just means it requires more of a plan, it requires more thought going into it. So if you’re going to a party and you know that’s a pizza party if you’re teenager – this is a very common occurrence, practically every day. What you’re going to do? How are you going to handle that? Well, in Wellspring programs we do role plays about that, we talk about 30 high-risk environments, 30 high-risk situations and 30 different coping responses. Well, let’s go back to the pizza party – you can do lots of things. You can take the cheese off the pizza, that’s the big culprit, and then you have a fairly low-fat version of pizza. You can order a pizza without cheese and then have it be a vegetable pizza. You can bring something from home that’s an alternative, like a pasta dish or fruit. You could get a glass of diet coke in your hand and try to keep it there as a way of…your dominant hand, trying to keep you focused on, “I’m not going to just feed myself. Or if I’m going to, I’m going to have to feed it with my non-dominant hand.” These are the kinds of things that weight controllers learn. If you’re traveling, you’ve got to think about where you’re going and you’re going to be aggravated ,you’re going to have frustrations and then you’re going to be surrounded by Cinnabons and all kinds of other smells and tastes and foods and.. what you can think…you can navigate those environments if you just give it some thought and go for the pretzels or for the low fat alternatives that are out there. So high-risk situations require a little more thought, a little more planning – over time, this gets easier. People who are weight controllers and are very successful at it 6 years out talk about how it’s significantly easier than it was 3 years out. And 3-years-out people talk about significantly easier than 1 year out. It’s a process. So if you find yourself struggling with this kind of things as a weight controller, as a parent of a weight controller, it’s important to realize that you’re going to get better at it. It’s a skill, you’ll get better at it over time and you are going to be negatively impacted by high-risk situations.

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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, PhD

Weight Management Expert

Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, PhD, ABPP, is the President of Wellspring. He was Director of the Eating Disorders Program at Northwestern University Medical School, where he is Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Kirschenbaum is a Fellow and Diplomate in Clinical Health Psychology in the American Psychological Association and former president of its Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology. Dr. Kirschenbaum has provided invited addresses at many professional conferences world-wide, received numerous grants for research, and published 10 books and 150 journal articles on weight loss, sport psychology, and related topics. His books include: the first book published for professionals on the treatment of pediatric obesity - Treatment of Childhood and Adolescent ObesityWeight Loss Through PersistenceThe Sierras Weight Loss Solution for Teens and Kids (2007); and, The Wellspring Weight Loss Plan. Dr. Kirschenbaum’s research on sport psychology won the top prize for research on the mental game of golf from the World Scientific Congress on Golf (St. Andrews, Scotland) and Golf Magazine; in 2000, the American Council on Exercise and its Board of Directors unanimously endorsed his book, The 9 Truths About Weight Loss, as "the best book ever written for the public on how to lose weight and keep it off."

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