If you’re about to embark on a diet or healthy eating plan, but worry that you won’t stick with it, here’s how to give yourself the best possible chance of success:
Reduce the need for willpower
You only need willpower when there’s something to resist. If you can’t resist certain foods, avoid having them around you. Have only healthy food in the house and if you’re eating out order only what you actually intend to eat. For instance, if you want to eat a grilled steak but no fries, ask the waiter for salad instead – don’t have the fries sitting on your plate to tempt you.
Drink plenty of water
If you’re dehydrated you’ll lack energy and your instinct will be to reach for a quick energy fix – usually sugary, salty, processed food. Stay hydrated and you won’t experience the energy dips which drive you to search out unhealthy snacks.
Know that it’s OK to leave food on your plate
Many people struggle with the idea of leftovers. Of course it’s not good to waste food, but consider this – if you’re eating food you don’t need then it’s just as wasted as if you’d thrown it in the bin. Either way it’s not going to good use. So if you’ve got too much on your plate tell yourself it’s OK to leave some. Stop eating when you’re full.
Beware low fat versions of foods
Low fat versions of food are generally more processed than the original food, and often the fat is replaced with sugar. Sugar is addictive, and will cause chemical changes in your body which will have you craving more. Have the original version of the food, perhaps a smaller portion – you’ll feel more satisfied and you’ll be less likely to suffer cravings afterwards.
Have healthy snacks around at all times
When you’re hungry, your first instinct is often to search out a quick energy “hit”, usually sugary or processed, fatty food. Have some healthier food to hand, so that you’ll automatically reach for that before your mind turns to the unhealthy options.
Ditch the guilt
Healthy eating does not have to be 100% healthy eating. If you eat well 80-90% of the time, the occasional treat is fine, and won’t derail your overall weight loss goals. Allow yourself an occasional treat, because if you don’t, when your resolve weakens and you do have one, you’ll feel guilty, demoralised, and are very likely to give up totally.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not killing yourself at the gym every night, but try to build more movement into your life – walk where you can, take the stairs, go cycling with the kids. Aim at a little extra activity every day.
Mind your language
When you say “I’m going to try to eat well this week” you’re giving yourself a get-out clause. Commit to your plans by removing “try” from that sentence. And then keep saying it – your positive affirmation. You are going to eat healthily this week!