The single most important tool for losing weight isn’t willpower or a new treadmill. According to weight-loss expert Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, it’s this: The ability to look in the mirror after devouring a pint of ice cream or bag of chips and say, “I goofed - but I’m starting over.” Here’s her advice on ways to handle a diet setback: 

  • First: Accept that nobody’s perfect. Dr. Freedhoff says that EVERYONE occasionally turns to food to find comfort. In other words, you’re probably not the only person who ate two corndogs because you were nervous at the company picnic. But beating yourself up about it increases the chances you’ll follow up the corndogs with a giant slice of 7-layer chocolate cake. 

  • Another way to get back in the diet saddle after a slip: Remember that permanent weight loss is impossible unless you let yourself enjoy food. Studies show that super-restrictive diets are impossible to stick to because people who attempt to never stray from the perfect diet are more likely to abandon their weight loss plans once they fall off the wagon, since they believe it’s an “either-or” scenario. Instead, consider your slip-ups a “learning experience,” one that you’ll manage better the next time.  For example, if you’re so bored with a steady diet of quinoa and kale that you wolf down 3 donuts in the break room, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you need to factor in the occasional treat, because when you plan to splurge, you get the enjoyment of anticipation, while still remembering that you’re on a healthy-eating path for life.