The Five Biggest Mistakes You Make When Quitting Cold Turkey
- You’re lying to yourself.
- You underestimate the difficulty.
- You don’t have a plan
- Lack of understanding
- You’re thinking short term
So you’ve decided to quit eating sugars or carbs or fats or meat (or whatever) today, right now, and forever!
You won’t be beholden to that weakness for another instant!
Congratulations! ….And maybe you just played yourself.
Quitting cold turkey is good for some people. But in most cases, it’s probably not even necessary.
I mean this in a limited sense. If you’re quitting committing homicides, cold turkey is definitely the way to go.
But here are 5 huge mistakes people make when they quit cold turkey:
1) You’re lying to yourself. Sure, you say you’re never going to have another soda again. You may even get rid of the cans in your refrigerator right now. But deep down, deeeep dooown, you know you’ll be back on that stuff soon. Have you tried to cut soda out of your diet before, only to end up like our friend here, every time?
For your mission to have any chance, you must be honest with yourself.
2) You’re underestimating the difficulty. You’re giving up ice cream and cookies for dessert but what about the other people in your house? If your spouse and kids are still going to be enjoying your biggest temptation, that’s going to be really hard on you. You can ask or demand that they quit too but is that fair? What if they refuse? You have to be realistic about how hard it’s going to be.
3) You don’t have a plan. You’ve been eating fast food every weekday for years and you want to stop. The people at Wendy’s know your order by heart. At this point it’s a deeply ingrained habit. Every day at lunch time you will feel that tugging at you “it’s burger and fries o’clock.” What do you do when your work friends invite you? When you sense that familiar aroma wafting through the office? If you don’t have a plan on how to deal with temptation, you will fail.
4) Lack of understanding. Is there someone close to you doing the Keto diet and seeing great results? Maybe it’s a cleanse? Or going vegan? Perhaps it’s some other trendy thing? Different tactics will work for different people. You have to have some understanding of what those tactics are and why they’re likely to be successful for you (or not). Hate bacon or eggs? Keto is going to be a round peg in your square hole. Whatever dietary changes you make have to be in line with your situation.
5) You’re too focused on the short term. Okay so you’re avoiding all sugars besides fruit. Good for you. What happens when it’s your kid’s birthday and grandma hands you a slice of cake? Lots of people see great temporary results from stuff like cutting out all carbs. But in order for the changes to last, it has to be sustainable over the long run.
Now, this isn’t meant to say that quitting cold turkey never works. That’d be a lie. Just that it sets things up in a way where it’s really easy to fail. It’s binary. You quit soda and slip up and have a soda 3 months from now, it’s easy to feel like you failed.
I wouldn’t personally see it that way but that’s how binary thinking works. Good and evil, failure and success.
In most instances a more nuanced approach works better. Rather than say “no” and “never”, you reduce the things you want to consume less. Replace them with healthier options. When you decide “I’m never having that ever again”, it makes it all the more tempting. We’ve all experienced some form of wanting what you can’t have, right?
Instead of going from a 2-liter of soda a day to zero, try having only 1 liter of it and increasing your water to match.
Rather than dictating your family can never have cookies and ice cream, you can turn it into a few cookies and a scoop of ice cream on Friday nights. The whole family can enjoy it and you still are eating less.
You don’t have to quit “bad” habits cold turkey. You can if you want to. A more moderate plan will mean longer term adherence for most people. You don’t have to cut everything you enjoy completely out. Enjoying things in moderation allows you the benefits of better health and fitness without the cost of feeling deprived, like you’re missing out.