WHAT IS LAST SUPPER SYNDROME?
Do you ever binge eat before starting a new diet?
You’re not alone.
It’s something most people do, and it’s even got a name: last supper syndrome.
In today’s article I’m going to show you what it is, why we do it, and why it generally DOESN’T WORK. If you’ve done this type of thing for years, I’ll also show you how to stop it ruining your fat loss results.
Let’s get stuck in…
AN EXAMPLE OF LAST SUPPER SYNDROME IN ACTION
Tell me if you’ve been here before.
Your new diet starts tomorrow, so you feel a sudden urge to smash every calorie you see before the deadline arrives. We’ve all done it, and we tell ourselves that when we wake up tomorrow EVERYTHING is gonna change – all of this junk food is no more, and our inner Rocky Balboa will guide us to success…
… but then tomorrow comes… and what happens?
It’s hard as f**k, that’s what.
The first day sucks, the next sucks even more, and by the time the weekend arrives you fall into the same old habits and promise to start a new diet next Monday.
That’s what last supper syndrome looks like, and I’m sure you know at least a dozen people who have fallen victim to it.
SO WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
It’s actually human nature.
You’re not doing anything wrong, but you should take it as a sign that your new diet probably isn’t a good fit for you.
Think back to when you were a teenager and you listened you certain music because your parents hated it. It felt cool to rebel, right? It sounds funny, but we are actually tapping into the same behavioural mechanisms right now!
We are rebelling against the ‘new us’ we’ve promised will take over from tomorrow, by giving our tastebuds one last day of ‘freedom’ because we mentally see our new diet as a form of self-punishment. (1, 4)
(That’s right, I brought the science.)
We envisage a life of restriction, where all of our favorite things are suddenly “off the menu” and we’re only allowed to eat food that tastes like the time you accidentally sprayed a can of deodorant in your mouth.
This prospect sounds like a f**ktacular s**tnado of a**, so we go wild.
HOW TO BEAT IT
Before we get stuck into this, I ‘d like to say that I generally don’t think there’s a problem in reacting this way once in a while.
For example, we all make plans to start eating better from January 1st then attempt to gobble every ounce of remaining holiday chocolate before the diet begins.
The PROBLEM with last supper syndrome lies in CONTINUALLY doing this.
So if it seems like you’re always at square one with you diet, binge eating every weekend and promising yourself you’ll get on top of it next week (and then the same thing happens again), then we need to fix this – otherwise it can lead to a lifetime of beating ourselves up and it can wreak havoc on our mental health, not just our physical appearance.
The good news is this cycle is beatable, and it all comes down to the three things below.
The first is to realize we do NOT need to go so hard…
Very few people can overhaul their eating habits overnight, and it’s unrealistic to expect such a thing, because the behaviours which cause us to crave certain foods whenever we feel stressed out, angry, or upset have been built through YEARS of bad habits. That s**t takes time to correct.
The second step is to decide on a healthy diet that doesn’t sound like eating a bag of d**ks.
Contrary to what clueless ‘influencers’ preach on social media, you DO NOT need to ditch all your favorite things and live on rabbit food. Heck, studies actually show that eating a more flexible diet and including your favorite treats leads to BETTER RESULTS! (2)
So when choosing a new diet to follow, I encourage you to find something that fits your lifestyle & your food preferences. Remember, your nutrition is numbers-based, not food-based, so there’s absolutely no harm in enjoying your favorite treats as you go, as long as you can control it.
Which brings me to the final thing… I want you to accept that it’s going to be challenging at times.
Everyone promises easy results with their miracle system, but none of them work because they are full of s**t. Stop listening to these fools. Dieting requires hard work and discipline, and it always has.
That’s why it’s rewarding as f**k when you reach your goals – because you genuinely have to work for it.
And that feeling of “taking control” is super-powerful. In fact, a 2004 study on a large group of female weight loss participants found that the mental transformation which took place along the way was crucial to results. (3)
So there you have it.
I hope you’ve learned a lot today about last supper syndrome, why it happens, and the things we can do to prevent it wrecking your long-term results. Applying the steps above will help get you OUT of the cycle of constantly planning a new diet, bingeing the night before, then finding yourself back at square one next weekend because the new plan was too f**king hard to stick to.
Let’s get to work.
- Ogden, J., et al. Cognitive changes to preloading in restrained and unrestrained eaters as measured by the Stroop task. Int J Eat Disord. (1993)
- Stewart, T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. (2002)
- Berry, D. An emerging model of behavior change in women maintaining weight loss. Nurs Sci Q. (2004)
- Bryan, C. J., et al. Harnessing adolescent values to motivate healthier eating. PNAS. (2016)