People diet for all kinds of reasons, not just weight loss. Sticking to a diet might be especially important if you’re dieting for food intolerance reasons, for example.
Why are you on a diet? Perhaps you’re trying to get into your best shape for a vacation or a wedding, perhaps you just want to feel healthier and have more energy, or you recently discovered you have food sensitivities.
Regardless of your reasons for dieting, sticking to a diet can be extremely challenging. The keto diet, for example, is very difficult to stick to because there are carbs in everything from juices and sauces to vegetables and fruit. It’s not easy to be sticking to a diet that is low-carb.
Furthermore, junk food just tastes good, and cravings are hard to fight, even if you’re motivated to stick to your diet. Your CircleDNA test might reveal that it’s simply in your DNA to have a sweet tooth.
If you’re starting a new diet or just want to make healthier choices, follow these 12 tips to resist the urge to cheat, and have more success sticking to a diet:
Sticking to a Diet is Easier if You Choose a Diet That Suits You
Keto diet or paleo diet? Weight Watchers or calorie counting? Vegan or vegetarian?
There’s no such thing as the ‘best’ diet because our bodies and metabolisms are all unique. Just because you follow a diet that has worked for someone else doesn’t mean that you will see the same results. Your genes heavily influence how your body will respond to any given diet, so a good first step might be to consider taking a DNA test.
A CircleDNA test can provide you with a comprehensive breakdown of how certain foods might affect your body, and with that knowledge, you are better able to choose a diet that works for you. Alternatively, you can work with a nutritionist to create a meal plan that best suits your needs.
Allow Yourself a Cheat Day
Promising yourself that you’re not going to eat any more junk food at all will only set you up for failure. It’s not a tangible goal and will make you feel like you’re being deprived and is likely to lead to binge eating, which will only set you back both physically and mentally.
A healthy diet allows a little wiggle room for treats. Set a day, preferably near the end of the week, for a piece of cake, a chocolate bar, or some chips. It will give you something to look forward to and will motivate you to stick to your healthy meal plan during the rest of the week.
Fill Up on Fibre
Fibre is a key ingredient to a healthy diet. Fibre makes you feel satiated, keeping hunger at bay for a longer length of time. Plus, it helps keep everything in your digestive tract running smoothly.
Some sources of fibre include:
- Fruit and veggies
- Whole grains
- Brown rice
Make sure to include a healthy serving of fibre in every meal. According to the Mayo Clinic, women should be getting between 21 and 25 grams of fibre per day, while men need around 30 to 38 grams.
Drink Lots of Water
Dehydration hunger happens when your body gets confused, thinking you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty. Sticking to a diet might be easier when you remember to hydrate. When your liver is lacking H2O, it can’t produce glycogen, which your body uses for energy. When its glycogen stores are depleted, your body assumes that it’s time to eat in order to restore them, when it actually needs water.
Not only that, water helps you feel full and boosts your metabolism.
Whether or not your trying to stick to a diet, getting enough water is one of, if not the healthiest thing you can do for your body.
Eat Healthy Snacks Frequently
This doesn’t mean ‘fill up on snacks’. However, some people who snack often, or ‘graze’ on food throughout the day find that it makes them less likely to overeat at mealtimes.
The scientific community is split on whether eating small snacks throughout the day is the healthiest way to go, but regardless, having healthy snacks at the ready will eliminate your reliance on the vending machine. Some options are
- Trail mix (with no added salt)
- Cut up fruit
- Veggies with hummus
- A small thermos of soup
- A smoothie
- Whole-grain crackers with peanut butter
Make Healthier Versions of the Foods You Crave
If you absolutely can’t wait till your designated cheat day for a slice of pizza, why not try making a healthier version at home using whole wheat flour and topping it with veggies?
Craving fries? These baked parmesan zucchini curly fries are a more heart-healthy alternative to white potatoes that have been deep-fried in vegetable oil.
Recipes for healthier ‘junk foods’ are all the rage and easy to find online.
Partner Up with an Accountability Buddy
Dieting is hard and you shouldn’t do it alone. Maybe a friend or someone at work is also trying to eat better. Ask around, and see if you can become ‘accountability buddies’ with someone. It even helps to just let someone know that you could use their support, even if they’re not dieting along with you. Letting someone else in on what’s going on will help keep you from cheating.
Work Out in the Morning
If you’re dieting to lose weight, adding an exercise program will make all the difference.
Working out in the morning will help you start your day with more energy, help you focus better throughout the day, and most importantly if you’re trying to stick to a diet, prevent you from cheating.
If you put in the effort first thing in the morning, you will be less likely to eat junk food because you won’t want to do the hard work that you already did. If you plan to work out towards the end of the day, it’s easy to let yourself cheat because you’ll tell yourself that you can just work it off later.
Meal Plan and Prep
Come up with an entire week’s menu of healthy, filling food and spend a few hours on Sunday afternoon prepping and portioning. This sets you up for success because 1) it saves you time and 2) it eliminates the need to order takeout or pick up something on the way home.
Life happens, and stress is one of the biggest saboteurs of dieting. With a fridge stocked full of premade and portioned meals, you don’t have to worry about cheating on your diet because you were too tired to cook at the end of a long day.
Shift Your Mindset
Instead of going into your diet telling yourself ‘I can’t eat this or that’, tell yourself that you’re choosing to make healthier choices.
Yo-yo dieting (going on and off a diet whenever you gain or lose weight) is extremely hard on your body and makes it harder to lose weight the longer you do it. For lasting change, the goal should be to follow healthy eating habits most of the time, with some treats and cheat days sprinkled in. If you begin a diet with a restrictive mindset, it will feel like something you have to do. If you begin eating well with the mindset that you’re choosing to make the right choices for your body, it becomes empowering because you are taking control of your body, not the other way around.
Make Junk Food Hard to Find (Don’t Keep it at Home)
If you can, avoid keeping junk food in your house altogether. If it’s not there, it can’t tempt you. The same goes at the grocery store: don’t go down the snack aisle!
However, if you must keep junk food at home (snacks for the kids, or maybe you like to entertain) keep it somewhere that will make it harder to get at, like on a high shelf or behind something that keeps it out of sight.
Set Realistic Goals
It’s ok to start small. Instead of trying to eliminate all your vice foods at once, set an intention to go three days without eating chips. Then, up the ante by challenging yourself to go three more days without chips and chocolate.
You will have more success if you try to break one bad habit at a time than you will be trying to change your entire lifestyle overnight.