Dieting is rarely easy, but things get even more challenging when you lack motivation to stick to it. If you’ve ever had a hard time sticking to a diet or have a tendency to throw in the towel when the going gets tough, you aren’t alone.
Struggling to stick to a diet is a common problem, but it isn’t impossible to overcome. Here are a few tips to help you stay track.
Understand your health risks and include your physician in your dieting plans. Your risk factors and nutritional needs are unique to you. Get to know your unique physical needs and work with your doctor to determine the best diet for you—and exclude diets that might be dangerous for you. Your physician can also help to determine your ideal weight, which will give you an extra level of accountability.
Keep track of what you eat. Keeping a food diary—in which you write down everything you eat and drink—is a great way to visualize what’s going into your body and will give you a clearer picture of how well you are managing your diet. MyFitnessPal is a great online resource for tracking your food intake as well as physical activity.
Keep healthy snacks on hand. Whether you spend your days at home, at work or on the go, having healthy, ready-to-eat snacks on hand makes it easy to make smart choices when the midday craving strikes. If you don’t have easily accessible healthy snacks on hand and you need a quick bite, you’ll be more likely to go for junk food at the vending machine or the drive-thru.
Remember, it’s not a diet—it’s a lifestyle change. The term “diet” suggests something that is temporary. If your new way of eating is temporary, your weight loss will also be temporary. To lose weight, keep it off and get healthy, you must make a long-term lifestyle change. For that reason, you’ll need to choose a plan that works for you based on your likes and dislikes, lifestyle, budget and time limitations.
Celebrate small victories. Find (non-food) ways to celebrate the little victories you make along the way to your weight loss goals. Make a mental note each day you stick to your new healthy eating plan and pat yourself on the back. Mark milestones along the way to your ultimate goal by treating yourself to an activity you’ll enjoy—such as a pedicure or a night out with friends. The key is to find non-food ways to celebrate your victories so you won’t take a step back in your progress when you celebrate.
Focus on how you feel. Eating healthy isn’t just about counting calories or cutting out fat, processed foods and sugar. It’s about eating foods that make you feel good. When you’re eating the right foods, you’ll know it. Your body will feel better, you’ll have more energy, you’ll sleep better and you will generally be in a better mood. Focus on how food makes you feel rather than what you are eliminating from your diet. Eat to feel good, and it will be much easier to stick to the changes you’ve made in your eating habits.
While weight loss can be an important goal, it should not be the only reason you decide to change your lifestyle. Eating a healthier diet is about more than just your waistline—it can dramatically reduce your risk factors for a number of serious health concerns, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. When you focus on eating better for your overall health, it will be easier to transition from a short-term “diet” to a long-term lifestyle change.