Have You Got ‘Last Supper Syndrome’?
Have you ever ordered takeaway food and justified it by saying to yourself:
“It’s okay, because this is the last time I’m doing it.”
If so, you’re not alone.
Thousands of people do this.
In fact, it’s such a common behavior that it even has a name; last supper syndrome.
It’s one of the hardest habits to break, but today I’m going to show you how.
Last Supper Syndrome Explained
The day before we start a new diet is usually a full-scale blow-out.
A war on calories.
We scoff pizzas, chocolates, donuts and anything else in close proximity as we say goodbye to the old us.
It’s a lot of fun, right?
But the notion that “everything changes tomorrow” is probably what’s stopping you from building your best physique.
You see, even though we’ve decided we’d like to look awesome and drop a few pounds for all the right reasons, the idea of actually doing it scares the motherf**king s**t out of us.
Panic signals are sent to the brain to tell us a storm is coming, and before we know it, we’re neck-deep in Galaxy caramel wrappers watching Shaun T shout about how great Insanity is at 3 a.m. (1)
Glad it’s not just me!
But here’s the thing…
Last supper syndrome exists because the majority of us view healthy diets as punishment. We start our new diet like a prison sentence, and feel the need to have “one last binge” before doing so.
It makes us feel great at the time, but we usually last only a few days before those cravings creep back in and we do it all again, creating a never-ending cycle of starting over.
Why are we doing this when we said this was the time we’d be different?
Well, this is down to emotional connections we make with certain foods. I’ll explain more on that below.
But as time passes by, the damage caused by the massive influx of calories on those binge days catches up with us, and we end up gaining weight despite feeling like we’ve been starting a new f**king diet every other week!
The feelings of insecurity grow larger each time we fail, too.
Why do I keep failing? Why can’t I be like those perfect Instagram girls?
It’s enough to make you want to find those annoying people who smile at bowls of salad, and punch them full force in the face.
But don’t worry.
Like I said, it’s normal to do this. It’s the way most of us have been programmed to think about losing weight.
Interestingly, we begin making emotional connections with food and work/life balance, associating the working week with the concept of dieting (i.e. a hard slog), and the weekend with the fun of relaxation and nice foods.
This happened to me back in the day…
Was I really craving that giant Yorkie bar because I loved the taste? Sure, it was nice. But what I was enjoying more is the feeling of “switching off” (popping on my baggy sweat pants, and not thinking about anything, just doing what I want).
The idea of starting a new diet often fills us with fear that we’re going to miss out on that, creating a sense of dread as we imagine a life where we cannot have anything we enjoy.
It could be compared to the feelings of panic in the build-up to a wedding.
But if we viewed our upcoming nuptials with the same sense of impending doom we have for our new diet, we’d probably not show up to the ceremony!
So How Do We Stop This From Happening To Us?
If you are constantly going round the following cycle, chances are you haven’t corrected the behaviors that keep making you crave those unhealthy binge foods:
- Feel unhappy/scared about never eating your favorite foods.
- Binge eat.
- Feel temporarily satisfied because you switched off/relaxed.
- Regret everything (x1000) and feel bad about yourself.
- Go even harder at it next time, but get the same outcome.
It’s also a sign that we’re about to start the wrong diet for us.
Research shows that going too hard and being too restrictive with a new diet isn’t the best approach, and usually leads to failure because of the negative mindset it creates. (3)
One study from the US showed that women (who lost an average of 52lbs and kept it off) shared a few of the same behavioral changes – most notably, the feeling of “taking control of their own lives.” (2)
This is a hugely important factor.
You see, it’s vital to realize that advertisers know people behave this way.
The world is never going to make it easy for you to stick to your diet, hence we get adverts for everything from beer to pizza talking about kicking back and relaxing, to cash in on those feelings and move product.
Don’t even get me started on having a fling with a Creme Egg, or the orgasm-inducing capabilities of eating a Cadbury’s Flake…
Further still, lots of diets begin as a result of some a**hole making a negative comment to us, so it’s interesting that one of the biggest changes is learning how to not give a f**k.
Alongside that new-found feeling of being in control, comes the realization that no food needs to be strictly off the menu in order for you to get in tremendous shape.
After all, the best diet is the one you can stick to.
Using the 80/20 rule, you can include all of your favorite foods along the way when you need them, without sabotaging your results.
This is how I encourage all of my male and female clients to approach dieting for weight loss, and it’s a system that works.
Research clearly shows that when total calories and protein are both controlled, we can take various approaches (high carb, high fat, low carb, moderate fat, etc) and still experience the same weight loss results! (4, 5, 6)
Starting a new diet by binge eating is a sign that you’re about to try something crazy.
After reading this, hopefully you’ll see the warning signs next time.
And if you truly want to build your best body, you’ll learn to fall in love with the process. It’s not a constant path to success, it’s a road filled with little bumps.
You’ll get there.
If you enjoyed this article on last supper syndrome, share it. You can jump on my free email newsletter below for more training tips from me!
- Ogden, J., et al. Cognitive changes to preloading in restrained and unrestrained eaters as measured by the Stroop task. Int J Eat Disord. (1993)
- Berry, D. An emerging model of behavior change in women maintaining weight loss. Nurs Sci Q. (2004)
- Stewart, T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. (2002)
- Leibel, R.L., et al. Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition . Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)
- Raatz, S. K., et al. Reduced Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Diets Do Not Increase the Effects of Energy Restriction on Weight Loss and Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Men and Women. J Nut. (2005)
- Johnston, C. S., et al. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. (2006)