Have you ever struggled to stick to a diet? You try so hard to clean up your eating habits and focus on eating nutritious meals and then you get distracted with your favorite fatty foods, making clean eating feel impossible. Or, you try out the hip, new diet everyone else is raving about and you fall off quickly. It can be frustrating when you have a goal you want to reach but you either stay the same or gravitate even further away from your goal with your efforts. Let’s just be blunt about it: Eating healthy is not easy, to say the least and you aren't alone with those thoughts. It’s common for people to fall off of their diets, jump back on, fall back off and repeat. We decided to address some common questions regarding dieting and provide helpful tips to keep you on track with your new lifestyle change.
Why do I keep failing on a diet?
The diet guidelines aren’t realistic.
Many diets focus on restricting certain aspects, such as sugar, carbohydrates and/or fat which may be beneficial temporary, but how likely are you to follow those guidelines for the rest of your life? Highly unlikely. Choosing a diet that isn’t sustainable is a common road to failure. Consistency is one of the key components of successful clean eating and strict rules don’t seem to support that balance. Following a structured nutrition plan based on your caloric/macronutrient needs is the way to go. It should be a plan that is relatively easy to follow, something you can maintain for a long period of time, possibly for the rest of your life.
Your mindset isn’t the right one.
The word “diet” isn’t our favorite because it sounds like a short-term change rather than a long-term one. You may be thinking of it as more of a fad diet than a lifestyle change— and that’s not how you should be approaching clean eating if you want it to last. Don’t diet— just eat a healthy diet (if that makes sense). As mentioned in the last tip, it’s important to make sure your diet guidelines are realistic in order to stick to it for longer than just a few weeks. When transitioning to clean eating, you should also be focusing on changing your relationship with food. Instead of “trying out” one diet until failure and then transitioning to the next one, you should be trying your best to stick to one diet and adjusting small parts when your body isn’t reacting the way you’d like it to. For example, if you aren’t losing as much weight as you’d like to, you can cut back a little bit on the carbs for a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference. Everyone’s body is different, so it’s hard to say what will work for one person, when it may not work for the next. If you want to see results, your best friend is consistency; making healthy eating a habit more than a hassle. Once you’ve been doing it for a while, it will get easier and you’ll begin seeing the results you are waiting for.
You are lacking support.
In order to stay on track, it’s important that you have support, from both outside sources and yourself. Keep yourself accountable for the promises you make… If you tell yourself you want to drop a pant size in two months, then do everything in your power to keep your promise and get closer to your goal, eventually reaching it. Although self support is important, it is rarely enough to keep yourself on track. Try to join a community and surround yourself with expert opinions and individuals on the same path, such as the RP Client group for Renaissance Periodization. It’s a great tool to help keep you on track, because you get to connect with others with the same goals, ask questions, see (and share) motivating progress pictures and much more.
Now that you know why you can’t stick to a diet, we want to discuss some tips that will help you stay consistent and incorporate a healthy diet into your life for good.
Prepare in advance
This is a huge one. Preparing your healthy meals in advance ensures that you have clean choices available when you get hungry instead of “winging it” when your stomach grumbles and heading to a (dangerously) convenient drive-thru. Think of the convenience factor: grabbing a Tupperware with pre-made, delicious clean food is actually easier than getting in your car and driving to get food elsewhere.
Don’t restrict yourself completely and torture yourself. It’s okay to indulge in moderation, it’s not going to ruin your health streak if you eat an unhealthy meal one to two times a week. If you’ve ever heard the saying “eating bad once a week won’t make you unhealthy, just like eating good once a week won’t make you healthy.” This statement is correct, it really comes down to how consistent you are. If you’re consistently eating healthy and indulging once in a while, you’ll most likely see the progress you are working towards.
Remember your motivation
Whether that’s a number on the scale, or something of bigger impact, like living longer to see your grandkids someday. This may sound extreme to some, but it’s a harsh reality that eating an unhealthy diet may shorten your life span. If you remind yourself of your motivation when you want to give up, you’ll be less likely to.
Transform your home into a healthy haven
Healthy haven? What’s that? Well, it’s basically a healthy sanctuary for yourself. You’re bound to eat the things you know you should be avoiding if they’re right in front of you. Go through your house and donate or trash the unhealthy options that will tempt you the most. For some, this may be harder if they have a spouse or children that aren’t on the same healthy eating kick. If that’s the case, create a specific place for the food you don’t want to see, so that you won’t be opening the pantry to see it on a regular basis when you are trying to reach for something healthy.
Don’t overeat or under eat
Don’t stuff yourself or starve yourself, they’re both detrimental. Overeating can pack excessive calories and may leave you with a stomach ache and guilt. Under eating is detrimental because it may leave you hungry. Listen to your body, especially when it’s hungry for more fuel. If you’re still hungry after a meal, you may gravitate towards junk food and turn your under eating streak into an overeating one, and binge eat all of the things you’ve been craving. In this instance, if you’re still hungry after a meal, eat a snack that will keep you full and on track nutrition-wise. You can find some examples in our article talking about protein-packed foods.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Well… you cheated when it wasn’t planned, and ate too much. Now what? Don’t give up! And don’t beat yourself up. Just remember to get back on track and back to your regular routine and leave it in the past. Don’t punish yourself for it and go to the gym and overtrain, or under eat the next meal. Food is not a reward or punishment: and you don’t want your relationship with it to consist of that. Remember why you began eating healthy and return to your usual diet plan.