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Make Over Your Inner Eating Monologue

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Stop the Self-Sabotage Talk

If my life were a musical, it would be Annie. So I ate a bagel from the break room an hour after eating a big breakfast. I'll shore up my willpower — tomorrow! So I skipped the gym? I'll work out extra hard — tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar! Susan Albers, PhD, author of But I Deserve This Chocolate, says this and other cop-outs aren't just common, they're also self-sabotaging. Here, five of the top offenders and how to defeat them.

Stop saying: "I had a bad day — I deserve this!"

Make this your mantra: "I deserve comfort, not calories."

The not-so-sweet truth about that Snickers bar: "Studies show chocolate's soothing effect lasts only three minutes," says Albers. To really kick a bad mood to the curb, she suggests treating yourself to a hot shower, a quickie massage (most nail salons offer walk-in options for about the same cost as a polish change), or just five minutes of quiet, do-nothing time.

Stop saying: "I already fell off the wagon, so I might as well make this a cheat day and start fresh tomorrow."

Make this your mantra: "My goal is progress, not perfection."

Albers warns against all-or-nothing thinking. "You want to exist in the middle ground," she says. "That doesn't mean eating perfectly, it just means sitting down, slowing down, and focusing on what you do choose to eat."

More Diet Mantras to Make Your Own

Stop saying: "It's a special occasion, and I don't want to be a party pooper."

Make this your mantra: "I'll have more fun if I feel comfortable, not stuffed."

Going out on the town in a sparkly number that feels like a sausage casing is about as enjoyable as staying in to wash your hair. "People tend to worry that, if they try to restrict themselves, they'll ruin all the fun," says Albers. "But what really kills the mood is feeling bloated and guilty." Instead, have a little of the treats you really love (bacon-wrapped shrimp, anyone?) and skip the "filler foods" (think stale potato chips). "If it doesn't merit a 9 or 10, don't put it in your mouth," says Albers.

Stop saying: "I'm too stressed out to eat right."

Make this your mantra: "Healthy foods can help me feel calmer."

"Eating sweets and processed carbs causes your blood sugar to spike, which can actually increase your stress levels," says Albers. "Whereas knowing that you can reach for that apple you packed when you get the munchies instead of having to hit up the vending machine can make you feel more in control."

Stop saying: "I'm going to finish off these chips eventually, so I might as well do it now."

Make this your mantra: "The future doesn't have to resemble the past."

Just because you've never been able to eat just one handful of pretzels doesn't mean you can't start. "People tend to think certain outcomes are inevitable, but you can rewrite your story," says Albers. "One way to change your old habits is to visualize new ones. It sounds silly, but picturing yourself closing up that bag and putting it away can help you make it a reality."

Originally published on, January 2012.