9 Common Weight Loss Traps

Dr. Judith Beck (an American psychologist and daughter of Dr Aaron Beck, the founder of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) identifies nine common thinking traps that will sabotage your weight loss.


They are as follows, with an example of what each trap sounds like: 

1. All or nothing thinking

You see things in only two categories and ignore the fact that there is a middle ground.

SOUNDS LIKE: “I’m either successful at losing weight or I’m a failure.” 

2. Overly negative future prediction

You predict the future in an overly pessimistic way without considering other possible outcomes.

SOUNDS LIKE: “Since I didn’t lose weight this week, I’ll never be able to lose weight.” 

3. Overly positive future prediction

You predict the future in an overly optimistic way without considering other possible outcomes.

SOUNDS LIKE: “I’ll be able to eat these cookies that I’m craving and then stop.”

4. Emotional reasoning

Drawing conclusions about the nature of the world based on your emotional state.

SOUNDS LIKE: “I feel so angry about eating that ice cream — I must really be a failure.”

5. Mind reading

You’re sure you know what others are thinking, and you expect them to know what you’re thinking.

SOUNDS LIKE: ”My co—worker will think I’m rude if I don’t eat that cake she brought for her birthday.”

6. Self-deluding thinking

You rationalise by telling yourself something that you really wouldn’t believe at other times.

SOUNDS LIKE: “If I eat this cake on my birthday, then the calories don’t count.” 

7. Rules that don’t help

Mandating actions without taking circumstances into consideration.

SOUNDS LIKE: “I can’t inconvenience my kids by removing all of the junk food in the house.”

8. Justification

You connect unrelated concepts to justify your eating.

SOUNDS LIKE: “I deserve to eat this because I’m tired and stressed out.”

9. Exaggerated thinking

You blow a situation out of proportion.

SOUNDS LIKE: “I have no willpower.”

The key is noticing which traps you fall into, and whether there are any patterns in your thinking. As you get better at doing this, the next step becomes replacing the sabotaging thought with a more helpful one.

A program like 12WBT can help you set up realistic weight loss goals -which means you’re much more likely to achieve them! Click here to find out more.


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  1. Great article. Made me realise that I engage in many of these self-talk traps, and not only in relation to food but also in other areas of my life as well! (eg. ‘I had such a bad day at work today – I’m never going to be happy here!). Hard to acknowledge, but worth trying to change.

  2. I related to all but 2 of those thinking traps,
    I’ll certainly revisit this page

  3. How true this is. I’m so glad I took the time to read the page. I’m so good at giving up when I haven’t stayed true to the plan. Hopefully I can use these tips to be more balanced.

  4. I so relate to “Justification” and didn’t think of it as a trap until reading this. Hmmm food for thought.

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