Do I need to give up my favourite foods, drinks & activities?

“Weight loss means no more takeaways”
“I won’t be able to eat the same meals as my family”
“I must give up alcohol if I want to be healthy”
“I ought to stop sitting on the sofa and watching TV”

All of the above quotes are examples of difficult thoughts that we can get caught up in when considering our health behaviour changes. Another way of considering these thoughts are as ridged rules; you may recognise some of these or you may have different one’s but they often start with “have to, must, ought to, can’t, right and wrong”. These rules are very strict and there is no room for compromise; they are often driven by a worry of losing control.

Have you ever done something simply because someone told you not to?

We are guessing yes! Setting these strict rules may feel like the right thing to do but research shows us that they are not as helpful as we think; ridged rules can lead to:- Being less aware of what our bodies want and need

  • More likely to overeat / indulge in a craving
  • A sense of missing out; or even resenting our health behaviour change journey
  • Frustration when we are left with the sense of having given up so much
  • More likely to experience setbacks with our goals

Top tips from our team:

  • How can you reframe these thoughts into something more helpful? E.g. “I must give up alcohol if I want to be healthy”….could become “I’d like to reduce the alcohol I consume; this will be a step towards reaching my health goal”.
  • When making a change consider whether it is something you would be comfortable with in the long term; does the change still allow you to enjoy life the way you would like?
  • There are no absolute rules when it comes to lifestyle change for health; no single food, drink or activity that you must totally avoid. It’s all about moderation and gaining feedback from your self-monitoring skills to see how you are getting on.
  • Identify and tune into your values; use these to guide and motivate you in your changes.
  • When making a change; consider is this something you would reasonably recommend to a friend or a loved one? Chances are if you think its too tough for them then it needs reconsidering for you!

We would like to hear from you! Comment below any tips you have for balancing the foods, drinks and activities that you love with your health behaviour goals.

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    By Josephine Akyeampong on 24 March 2022
    Thank you for the advice.I will steak to it.Even now I have stop eating the white bread and now on brown bread and more salad with some fruits.
    By Joan Mackinnon on 24 March 2022
    I have been eating healthily for years, maintained a good weight. I exercise, do not drink or smoke. The question is why as my blood sugar gone up? Really surprised.
    By Mathieu E Bedi-Leblanc on 24 March 2022
    By Jenny Jeffery on 24 March 2022
    I do think about what I eat but tend to get into habits like always having a banana on my meusli. It's easier not to have a banana every day if I have something like scrambled egg or porridge at least once a week instead ....
    By Les on 24 March 2022
    It's just habits that rule us, so (as its already been said) just do it and you'll soon get into a new habit. I did no more than stopped sugar in tea and eating cheese a couple of years ago and lost two stone in no time.
    By S.Khan on 24 March 2022
    "HEALTH IS WEALTH", My wife was diagnosed with Pre-diabetic in November 2020. We then followed a daily walk of around 10K steps + fruits and veg in diet and avoided sugar etc. After done blood test in Feb-2021, "Cholesterol and Sugar level got back normal". Hope it does work for all. :)
    By Frances Manning on 24 March 2022
    It was quite a shock to learn I was "Pre Diabetic". Not me surely. I eat, healthily, (mostly) and in moderation. But tests told a different story. So I begin this new journey with you all and look forward to reading your tips. Only two biscuits a day now for me, instead of two with every cup of tea or coffee. It's a start. I thought that Valerie's comment was a good tip, just to have a taste of something to satisfy the sweet tooth.
    By KEITH LAWRENCE on 24 March 2022
    I am 72 & have been diagnosed as borderline diabetic. I am unable to run or exercise briskly but find gardening, not only mentally stimulating but good physically, What's the point of paying a fortune to get rich quick owners of gyms, you can get the same benefits from gardening & you have something to show for it, Who wants a sixpack anyway UGLY UGLY UGLY
    By Usoku Macleod on 24 March 2022
    When on these life changes, it’s important to eat what you fancy in moderation and combine them with gentle or vigorous exercises so as to burn some of the fat. I have found that very helpful. I really enjoyed my class programmes with Donna which was very useful.
    By John Nickson on 24 March 2022
    I used to enjoy mountain biking but at gave up as it was too strenuous. So needing to do more exercise I bought my self an electric assist mountain bike. I have been out twice now and loved it. Feel better just to be out on the trails again. p.s. I'm 70 now.
    By Ruth Sayers on 24 March 2022
    This was really really helpful!!!!! When I saw the lady with salad in front of her and actively pushing away the doughnuts, I laughed out loud!!!!!!!!! It's what I'm like!!!!!!!!! I say to myself "I mustn't eat chocolates, cakes, biscuits, chips, etc. etc. etc!!!!!!!!!" There's no middle ground!!!!!!!!! I either try to eat NONE of these things, or else go overboard and eat loads and loads of them!!!!!!!!! I thought to avoid getting Diabetes people had to eat none of them. I end up getting really upset and frustrated, because I really like eating those things, and I keep telling myself I shouldn't eat them!!!!!!!!!
    By Valerie Cohen on 24 March 2022
    Sometimes just a taste is enough. Not the all the bar or slice. Makes a difference. Dont punish yourself
    By Christine Callaghan on 24 March 2022
    I am glad to have received your email today because yesterday I did not keep to my plan as I had been doing for seven days. I'd been very good with my 5-Fruit long with 3 vegetables a day but yesterday I couldn't look at another apple or blueberry. However today I've already had 3 Kiwis so I'm back on track and I don't feel guilty!
    By Gillian Dawson on 24 March 2022
    I enjoyed reading this as it is hard to just stop eating something. I used to have a banana pancake for breakfast. It is only a banana smashed up, a beaten egg added and a pinch of salt. I top it with fruit and sugar free marshmallows. I was told banana was not good as it is a carb. I never realised this. But I now have my pancake every other day. So I have cut down on my every day consumption. So feel good now. After reading this. Thank you.
    By MR DAVID H NICHOLLS on 24 March 2022
    I found this very interesting and it will help as I have had all the thoughts mentioned and it can be demoralising. This will help make more sensible choices without feeling guilty.
    By Robin Floyd on 24 March 2022
    You’ve hit the nail on the head, apart from the last ‘quote’ they are my sentiments exactly. Lockdown has helped me focus on my eating and exercise, without the risk of holidays or days out spoiling my routine. I’m 64 and I’ve managed to lose over 4 stone since I joined the program 7 months ago and is the lowest I’ve been for 40+ years. My BMI is now in the healthy range, again the first time for year’s. However, I’m not going to say it’s been easy, these last 7 months of healthy eating and exercise have been hard, but I was determined to persevere and not undo all my hard work. I have stuck to 1200 calories a day and used the “My Fitness Pal” app to help me work out the level of nutrients in everything I eat, so I’m able to make sure I don’t go over the set goals on carbs/fat/sugar etc. I’ve also monitored my weight daily to keep me focused. Along with the diet, I’ve religiously walked a minimum of 10,000 steps daily for the last 7 months (1.6 million steps!) with only Christmas Day being the exception. I’m unable to do any high impact exercise due to a back injury but I found brisk walking has worked for me. I’ve gone from a tight 38” waist for trousers to a very loose fitting 34”. T shirts from X large to medium. This has been a fantastic for me and have to say the diabetes program helped kick started me off on this life changing journey. My HbA1C test in August 2020 was 42, hence me being referred to the program but 2 weeks ago I had another test and my level is now 35, therefore the doctor has said no further action required. Another benefit for me is that my blood pressure has dropped dramatically and for the first time in around 8 years my medication has been reduced as a result, with the possibility of it being reduced further as my BP is still dropping. My only regret is that I didn’t do all this a lot sooner! 🤦‍♂️
    By Caroline on 24 March 2022
    Seems like very sensible and non-persecuting advice -avoid rigid rules.
    By David Barfi on 24 March 2022
    This is helpful and encouraging. I get confused myself as to whether I should not eat anything sugary at all. Sometimes it makes me starve most of the day not knowing what to eat, given my ethnic background as a Ghanaian.
    By Ian on 24 March 2022
    It’s not as hard as you think to make these changes , just introduce them steadily. Think about your meals , if you want chips change for wedges and have veg also with the meal and lean meats etc . It does make a difference over time just be patient and don’t get obsessed by having to watch the pounds come of quickly , steadily is much better and a longer lasting result instead of yo yoing up and down .
    By Julia Blezard on 24 March 2022
    I so associate with this type of "rule" following. When I was first told that I was at risk of getting diabetes my first thought was "On No" I'll never be able to control the sugar addict habit I had developed and got really worried and depressed by it. But I have now adopted the attitude, since my telephone sessions with you guys, that I just need to cut down my sugar to start with, change to sweetners in my tea and stop having so much lovely sweet stuff in the house. I am now doing this and its not half as bad as I thought. I am now finding I am cutting out sugary snacks quite often now and having a bit of Toast and Marmite instead (I'm a lover not a hater). Thank you for helping me already change my way of looking at this. More good habit forming too follow no doubt.
    By Alison Fisher on 24 March 2022
    To give up a favourite thing or not? This is NOT a question - just do it! And you'll find you *gain* much more than you have given up. This is because I am now down to a blood sugar level of 4.9 (was 11+) and feel much more lively. My mood is more steady. I am sleeping better. So I really don't feel I'm giving stuff up!!! Thanks for the advice on the Diabetes Prevention proramme.
    By Gabriela Harris on 24 March 2022
    Thank you for the advice! I will start by changing my white rice and bread for brown, less sitting down to watch tv and to think twice about what I eat in general.
    By on 24 March 2022
    I absolutely agree. The more I restrict the more I eat. A small biscuit that satisfies is better than trying nothing or something perceived healthier that doesn't satisfy as I then end up grazing and eating more than I need