There’s no question that knowing how to stick with your new diet takes work. Once you’ve made the decision to take charge of your weight, you’ve got to break away from your usual routine.
Instead of days of mindless eating and nights spent loafing on the couch, now you’ve got to think about planning and cooking your meals, counting your calories, and carving out time for exercise. That’s a lot to tackle, so we asked nutrition expert Susan Bowerman from Herbalife how you can fix the problem.
Diet failure reason 1: It doesn’t fit your lifestyle.
When you say you’re going on a diet it implies that, at some point, you’ll be going off your diet. This often happens when people try to adopt a diet plan that just doesn’t fit with their lifestyle. Maybe there are too many restrictions – so you quickly get bored, or you can’t find anything you can eat when you go out with friends or family.
Easy diet fix: Rather than trying the latest ‘diet’, focus on making lifestyle changes for the long term. Look for recipes that are quick and easy, and learn your way around a restaurant menu so that you can always find something that works for you.
Diet failure reason 2: Your expectations aren’t realistic.
Once you’ve made the decision to go on a diet, you may have high expectations for your weight loss – especially if you find yourself making a lot of sacrifices. But if you expect to lose more than you can safely achieve over a period of time, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
Easy diet fix: First, recognise that a safe and reasonable rate of weight loss is about a kilogram per week. And recognise, too, that when you’re working to establish healthy new habits, it’s natural to slip once in a while. Rather than letting that diet slip turn into a diet fail – and giving up altogether – try to learn from your mistakes and allow some time for the new habits to get established.
Diet failure reason 3: You don’t change your environment.
Your environment has a big effect on your eating. Think about what you keep in your refrigerator, freezer and cupboards at home. There are temptations all around you, and if you don’t take charge of your environment, it’s just too easy to give in.
Easy diet fix: Clear tempting, high-calorie foods out of your house and replace them with healthier items. Rather than a jar of sweets on your desk or a bag of biscuits on your kitchen counter:
- Put out some fresh fruit or protein snack bars
- Cut up some fresh veggies and put them in a highly visible spot in your fridge
- And if you can’t drive past your favourite fast food restaurant without taking a detour into the drive-through, find another route.
Diet failure reason 4: You don’t eat regular meals and snacks.
Often people think the quickest way to weight loss is to just eat as little as possible. So they skip meals and snacks – which leaves them hungry, and craving sugar and caffeine to get them through the day.
Easy diet fix: Work on establishing a regular eating pattern that will keep you from getting overly hungry. In general, people feel the need to eat about every 3-4 hours during the day, which means three meals and a snack in the afternoon. When you know you’re going to eat every few hours, it makes it easier to control your portions at each meal and snack, too.
Diet failure reason 5: You eat for reasons other than hunger.
Emotional eaters turn to food when they’re feeling depressed, angry or stressed. If they start on a diet and deprive themselves of the emotional comfort of food, you can imagine what happens … they just get more depressed, angry and stressed. If you find yourself eating when you’re not really physically hungry, work on finding other ways to make yourself feel better.
Easy diet fix: When you get ‘emotional’ and feel the need to eat, take a moment to stop and simply acknowledge what it is that you’re feeling. Rather than ‘stuffing down’ the negative feeling with food, just let it be. It might help to write down how you’re feeling, or to talk it out. And exercise is one of the best mood-lifters around. Put on your shoes and go take a walk, or get down on the floor and stretch instead.