Bidding Adieu to 'The Last Supper' Mentality

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)

Before SparkPeople, I used to have what I now call the "last supper mentality," as in swearing off a certain food and recommitting to a "diet" after one last hurrah, aka a binge. The last supper mentality is the difference between perfectionism and the middle ground where lifestyle really is.

So many times I used to say to myself:

"OK, this is the last piece of pizza I'm ever going to eat."

It never was.

"This is the last time I'm going off my diet until I get skinny."

It never was.

It never was the last anything. I would wake up the next morning, and Pizza Hut was still delivering, and chocolate was still as sweet and delicious as the day before.

The fact that these temptations exist is both a good thing and a bad thing. I am now free-yes, free--from that last supper mentality because of it. It was that fear that I would never get to eat another piece of pizza or have another piece of chocolate that made me OVERindulge when I did choose to eat those things. The realization that those good foods will still be there tomorrow lets me reason that I can be "good" today and have my indulgence tomorrow. It's the reverse of the old indulge today and be "good" tomorrow.

Perfectionism plays a huge role in this type of thinking. If you've read my blogs before, you no doubt know my analogy: "If I got a traffic ticket, I wouldn't go break all the traffic laws the rest of the day, so why blow my day over a slice of pizza?" Sometimes it's good to allow an indulgence into your eating plan. Plan for it or don't. It's at your discretion, however planning it into the SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker does make it easier to keep it in your calorie range.

The "last supper mentality" is a fairly strong trickster. It calls out, urging overindulgence and promises a new beginning. While that sounds tempting, it isn't real. Sometimes if the urge to indulge is too strong, it may be best not to indulge at all because it can be easy to lose control. You are probably familiar with that "I'll just have a bite or two…" voice you hear, when in the back of your mind you really want to eat the whole thing. I am. Somehow I know a binge is coming on, or that I'm in danger of overeating whatever I take a bite of; in that case I stay away from food and have a big glass of ice water or some diet clear soda with a splash of juice and crushed ice. Vegetable and fruit trays really come in handy if you're hanging on for dear life fending off a binge or a last dance with a favorite food. If you do overindulge and are trying to convince yourself it's the "last ____," ask yourself how many "last _____s" you've had before.

If your present lifestyle is eating indulgences daily, try eating them every other day. Make a plan that YOU can stick to because this is all about developing YOUR healthy lifestyle. There isn't just one healthy lifestyle. There are many approaches to fitness, nutrition, mental health, and spirituality. Try different tips and tricks you find, keeping the ones that work and leaving the ones that don't.

Part of what works for my lifestyle is a house clean zone rule. Things that get me into a binging state or a last supper mentality aren't allowed into my house. Yes, sometimes they still get in because nobody has invented a food detector that sets the house on lockdown upon sensing several cans of ravioli in one bag. For the most part I've had to give up the excuses that my husband or family needs these things. They don't. They want them and I do too. So, they have to keep them out of my areas and out of sight. I don't want a clue they are even in the house.

Another of my lifestyle changes that has helped me tremendously is my rule that I must order small, regular, lunch, or senior sized meals or split a standard meal so as to halve the calories. For example, I love the Olive Garden and often order toasted ravioli or stuffed mushrooms appetizers as a meal with soup. The soups are very low calorie and full of nutrients. Most of their dishes are high calorie, but if you only eat half or a third, you can save money and calories.

Reading articles and blogs here on SparkPeople is how I learn new ideas to change my lifestyle. I hope you will do the same and get a feel for what will once and for all work for you. Don't do the last supper mentality dance anymore. Aim for better every day rather than perfect right away.

Are you guilty of "the last supper" mentality?

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CHERYLHURT 3/20/2020
Thanks Report
GETULLY 1/22/2020
Usually I hear about people eating all the 'bad' stuff out of their pantry before they start being more mindful of what they eat. Report
NAYPOOIE 1/21/2020
Oh, yeah! Report
Thanks. I do tend to think that way. Instead of thinking that I'll eat "it" tomorrow, I want to binge on the ice cream, cookies, etc. until I'm stuffed. Report
Last supper mentality is a great way to put that Report
Didn't have the "last supper" mentality BUT I would say I wouldn't certain foods in combination with other foods....ha Report
There is always "later" and "tomorrow". It doesn't work for task completion, but it sure works for food intake. Report
I still do this once in awhile. I binge, and then have one last binge before restarting my healthy eating plan. Report
Indeed! Report
Many people diet right after certain holidays, I’ve been doing it for years. It helps to know you can finally eat something tasty now and then. It’s the truth! If healthy foods tasted that good, no one would get tired of them or need to be nagged over and over to eat them! Report
You write to beautifully - thank you for sharing your story and it's amazing how many of your blogs are about exactly the things I battle with so you have no idea how helpful they are to me. Thank you! Report
I used to have that mentality too. What I've done differently this time is actually schedule one day where I can have a mini-indulgence. It works! Report
This is exactly the dance I went on today. I woke up wanting a BBQ rib from yesterday's dinner so bad, it was all I could think about. I had my smoothie and was truly satisfied with it, but when lunch came around and I was really full, the rib reared its ugly head. By evening I gave in and ate the darn rib, then sat there too bloated and uncomfortable to move, utterly ill, and upset with myself. I tracked my calories and I managed to stay in range on everything but fat and when I sat down and analyzed the obsession with the rib, I realized that it was sabotage. I lost my first 10lbs and I was scared, so, I woke up wanting to do something that would pack the lbs back on. Reading your blog, helps me realize that this is something I will need to watch out for from now on. And it also is encouraging to know that someone else has done The Last Supper Dance. Thank you!!! Report
What a great blog. Thank you Beth. I thought I was the Queen of "Last Suppers." I had one almost every other day. I know perfectionism is a strong pary of my makeup, so I seemed to always be starting a diet tomorrow and eating freely (and in great quantities) all the junk I'll "never eat again!" Report
I could TOTALLY identify with this mentality! Seeing it in black and white will help me combat it. Report
Thank you Beth. This is something that I have always struggled with before. This time I played it differently, NO LAST SUPPER FOR ME. I just started and that was it. If I have a bad meal, then I had a bad meal and I go back to eating healthy. We are all gonna have slips, but the main thing is TO NOT KEEP SLIPPING. Thanks for the great article. I will definitely save this one. Report
I have been guilty of this before when starting previous diets. I also had this mentality this summer when attending family get togethers. It is a hard mentality to loose but one that when list helps greatly in our journey to becoming healthy. Report
Beth is one amazing woman is working very hard at losing her weight and getting to her goal. I admired her she is so motived and gets other motivated as well. Great person to read her blogs and read her story. way to go Beth~INDYGIRL Report
Haha. I started my time at SP with such a blog. Oh well, of course I've made that cake so that I could binge on it once even after "swearing it'd never happen again". What hurts me more is to be all holy and categorical about it, instead of choosing to allow myself momentary weakness. Report
What a perfect name for what dieters have been doing ever since the first diet began, continuing through "now" in fact!! It's a tradition I'm working on getting rid of too. Report
You are truely an inspiration! Thank you. donna Report
I am totally the same with the out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing. I lived with my dad--a junk food junkie you might say--for a while and we had separate side of the cupboards--his sweetened cereals, cookies, etc stayed on his side and I refrained from "peaking" on most occasions. It worked pretty well. He could never be converted to the healthier ways of eating and I was doing my best not to binge so it kind of worked best that way. Report
I agree the Nutrition Tracker keeps me accountable for my choices. I put in my meal right before I make it and it lets me know that I might need to eat less...for example I ate 5 macadamia nuts instead of 12 when I saw what it added to my fat and calorie intake! I can always eat more tomorrow...and they will be there since I didn't eat 'em today. Report
Too funny and too true. Sometimes we just got to laugh at ourselves. I am on the "Last Supper" every week. This morning my husband went to Walmart and while he was there they had just put a a fresh tray of fried wings. Well he brought 2lbs. I think I ate a pound with the promise I would eat oatmeal the rest of the day. Who am I kidding.
Thanks for putting this in print. I had to read it to realize what I was doing. You are right, it will never stop. Report
I too remind myself I could indulge tomorrow. Not now works for me. Report
Great blog! I can relate and I totally agree! Report
I'll remember the traffic ticket analogy - you're more cautious rather than more reckless after getting a ticket! Good one! Report
I love how you said to eat well today and indulge TOMORROW - just a switch of order. Why do I think I deserve the reward first before doing the work - I would never give my kids their treats in advance!
Thanks for the new perspective!! Report
I can't count the number of last supper's I've had. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone and that there is a better way. Report
I understand the last supper & I don't have that anymore. I started a new idea for me, 1 meal a week I get to eat whatever I'm craving, or whatever I haven't had in awhile. Of course I do limit my quanity. I don't eat a whole gallon of ice cream, but I do have a single serving, I even go out to get it now, it costs more than picking it up from the freezer section, but it won't be in the house tommorow to call to me to finish it off, plus I don't feel guilty when I eat it, I let myself enjoy my food & I'm proud of me for behaving all week. Plus if it's Monday & I'm craving pasta, by Friday or Saturday I may not still crave pasta & therefore I've stuck to my diet by waiting it out. Report
I learned some time ago to forget the "last supper" and forget setting a specific day/date for "starting" a diet plan. It was easier for me to change my lifestyle by making small, but persistent and continuing, changes. E.g., I started eating only whole grain bread, pasta, etc. A few days later, I began to fix and eat only fresh veggies, then reducing the amount of sugars, salt and fats, etc., adding exercises, etc. Within a couple of months, my whole lifestyle (including food intake) had changed to a healthy lifestyle. Now, my whole mentality is focused on the healthy lifestyle. This time around (I've gone on many, many "diets" in the past) I have NOT been on a diet--just a journey to a healthy lifestyle. Report
"If I got a traffic ticket, I wouldn't go break all the traffic laws the rest of the day, so why blow my day over a slice of pizza?"
I used this on myself just the other day... Thanks so much for this great analogy and congratulations on your success! Report
Guilty as charged! Another great blog, Beth!! Keep 'em coming and keep up the great job!!! Report
Also guilty of the "last supper" mentality. Great article! Report
Guilty of the "last supper mentality." I first heard of it at WW a long time ago.

It goes like this in my mind: "After I totally pig out, I'll start my diet so I'll go for it now."

Just fooling myself and doing harm to myself. I'll leave the Last Supper to Jesus from now on. Report
**The realization that those good foods will still be there tomorrow lets me reason that I can be "good" today and have my indulgence tomorrow. It's the reverse of the old indulge today and be "good" tomorrow. **

Wow, this was a light-bulb moment for me! I had never thought about this before. Somehow it's very freeing for me to consciously make the decision that I don't need a tempting food today, I *can* have it tomorrow (if I still want it). I struggle with an all or nothing attitude, and I'm slowly learning that "everything in moderation" is really ok. Report
"Aim for better every day rather than perfect right away."

I love this! I might have to borrow it for my SparkPage.

Thank you for sharing!

- Karen
I totally understand this "last supper" mentality. With food prices I hate to throw out groceries that I bought in a weak moment like candy instead of vegetables or fruit. Got to learn to resist temptation at the store and that it is okay not to clean my plate and throw food away. Report
I love the traffic ticket analogy! Report
Great post! I actually do have a start date (this Sunday) to actively get back to my heathly lifestyle. Your blog has come at a good time! ha ha

I have been on vacation recently and have allowed myself not to worry about what I was eating (for the past month) and it has taken a toll. I've gained a few lbs. back and I am struggling with my motivation (one of the things spurring me on no longer applies) so I find myself having to mentally prepare for the change. I'm working on re-establishing some goals, etc.

I no longer tell myself I "can't" have something. I changed that thought process shortly after I joined SP. I'm making a lifestyle change, not dieting. It's how you manage the deviations from your plan that determines your success. SP has taught me that it's ok to slip ever now and again. There's not permanent damage if you get back on track. A setback perhaps, but not failure!

Personally, I find some binging to be beneficial. I give myself permission to eat what I crave, otherwise I find I'm perseverating on what I'm denying myself, eat everything else around me but what I really want and it does more damage than if I just ate what I was wanting in the first place. Once I do this, I'm usually good and for me, I find the time between my "binges" gets longer and longer. Knowing I CAN have it helps me deal with my cravings and truly helps me stay on target! Report
This was great! Thanks for putting the mirror up for me. I am an all or nothing sort of personality. I am trying to redefine myself and this is an area that totally needs revamping. I know that I need to be more gentle with myself and patient with my needs...more specifically those desires that can hurt me and add a layer of guilt to my day. So this was an exeptional blog for me to read and your gentle understanding and way of dealing with the all or nothing approach to daily habits is refreshing and inviting. Thanks! Report
Beth, you are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing. Chris Report
I'm reading Judith Beck, PhD's "The BECK Diet Solution" since she teaches how to think like a thin person. Dr. Beck teaches that we have to diet every day to control our weight. A "last supper" doesn't fit in. Report
I have a different "Last Supper" problem...I never think I'm never going to eat a certain food again...I just eat AS IF it's the last time I'll have a chance at it. I have to remind myself that there is no great macaroni and cheese shortage, cookies haven't been hunted to extinction...apocalypse not withstanding (see The Slowest Loser for details), I'm probably going to be offered a donut at least one more time in my life , so I don't have to grab at every one I see! Report
Every single one of your blogs resonate with me, and this is no exception. I do this *all* the time, and I think part of the problem is naming a particular day after which my lifestyle change will commence (like another commenter mentioned). If I know I'm going to start eating healthier on Monday (which I tend to do as I'm fond of "new beginnings"), you know that Sunday is going to be a brutal bingefest, trying to get the last tastes of whatever things I deem as unhealthy. I still struggle with the idea of moderation, but I'm hoping to get there soon... thank you so much for this blog. Report
This sounds WAAAAYY too mch like how I used to live, until I joined SParkPeople in Jan 2010. I haven't lost much of the weight I had gained in the past but now my view of food is totally different and there are no "last super" days for me. If I screw up in the morning I try to keep it healthy the rest of the day. I don't let it slow me down or discourage me. If I have a slip up at night I don't feel guilty and spiral off the wagon like I used to. Little by little I notice I am more in control.. It's the minor tweaks that matter, and your attitude that brings about the change. I know what I have to do to lose more weight, it's just a matter of doing it. Little by little I am changing and it is more effective to reprogram yourself via little habits than by trying to totally do everything opposite to what you've been doing so far in one day and expecting to get lasting results. I thank you for this post because it really brings it home for me. Report
I saw myself in your post - have we ever me???? I have had more last suppers than I can count! I am having fewer binges because I if I get a small taste of a dessert- then next thing I the whole thing will be gone. Right now, my kitchen is a cookie free zone. If I had cookies in the pantry it would be ugly. Thanks for the blog. Report
I wrote a blog post on this very same topic! Check it out if you'd like:
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I've been known to do "last suppers" Report