With all of the things that come up in our day to day lives, sticking to a healthy diet can become a difficult task. Over 26% of people say that they have abandoned their diets before seeing the results that they wanted. Sticking to a diet is not impossible and here we will provide practical tips to guide you in how to stick to a diet. The key is to find a sustainable, long-term plan that works for you and build the right mindset to continue with it.
Why Is It So Hard for Me to Stick to a Diet?
What we eat is greatly affected by our environment and what sources of food are most readily available to us. The food environment in the US can be described as toxic given that healthy diet choices are harder to make than unhealthy ones. The most convenient and affordable foods are often sugary beverages and snacks, fast food meals, or other unhealthy snacks. When we consistently choose these more convenient options, we train our brains to begin craving these types of foods, triggering feelings of satisfaction that healthy foods cannot provide. This leads to a cycle of choosing unhealthy options because they are satisfying and make us feel better. Another reason people often fail to stick to a diet is they don’t create the structure and take time to do the planning to support changes. Instead, they fall back into the habit of choosing what’s familiar and convenient. People also fall back into old habits because they’ve chosen a diet that is very strict and cuts out a lot of different foods. These types of diets may leave you feeling deprived of enjoying food and create cravings which can ultimately make it much more difficult to stick to.
4 Best Tips on How to Stay Committed to a Diet
1. Build a Healthy Relationship with Food
Having an unhealthy relationship with food is a hurdle for many who are trying to stick to a healthy diet. So what does a healthy relationship with food look like? Having a healthy relationship with food means relieving yourself of the pressures to try and eat “perfectly”. Listen to your body to eat when you are hungry, and stop when you feel full. Some ways to begin building a healthy relationship with food include working with a professional such as a Registered Dietitian, practicing mindful eating, paying attention to the language you use around food, or joining a support group.
2. Follow a Substantial Meal Plan
Creating a substantial meal plan is a key step in making healthy foods more convenient in your day to day life. Try to set aside one to two hours per week for meal planning and prep. This will save time throughout the week and make it easier to stick to your diet. According to the World Health Organization, a substantial diet is composed of cereals/starchy foods, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and foods from animal sources or alternative proteins if you are vegetarian or vegan. A great way to plan meals that are healthy and fulfilling is using the Plate Method. This is an effective meal planning method for weight management that ensures you are consuming enough fiber and protein to feel full in between meals as it allows you to visualize the amount and types of food you are including.
3. Take Your Time & Be Patient with Yourself
Committing to a healthy diet is not going to happen overnight, and it’s important to remember that’s totally okay. On average, it takes about two months for a new habit to become an automatic behavior. This means that being patient with yourself is a key part of the process and committing yourself to your long term goals. The long-run happiness that comes from sticking to your diet is more important than the momentary satisfaction we gain from overeating or consuming processed foods. And remember that a small setback is just that, it’s not the end of the world. It’s how you react to that set back that will give you the power to carry on forward. Each day is a fresh start. Everyone can approach dieting at their own pace, as long as you continue to progress you will be benefiting yourself and your health.
4. Hold Yourself Accountable
Once you make the commitment to start your diet journey, you should develop a tactic to hold yourself accountable. There are many ways of doing this and you can choose a method that works best for you. You can track food intake using a mobile app, diary, or journal. Having a support system of any kind can help as well, discussing your progress with friends, family, or groups of people on a similar journey. Another way of gaining support can be through working with a professional team that can give you the best advice based upon your own dietary needs. By doing this you are not only holding yourself accountable, but able to celebrate and recognize the progress that you have made along the way.
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How Form Can Help You Stick with a Weight Loss Plan
By forming a more positive relationship with food, meal planning, practicing patience, and holding yourself accountable you will be better equipped to build new healthy eating habits and stick with your diet. Sticking to a healthy diet isn’t the only way to reach your weight loss goals, it can also include physical activity, mindset shifts, and even FDA-approved medication when deemed appropriate by a doctor. If you don’t know where to start, it can be helpful to talk to a professional. The Form medical weight loss program is designed to help you achieve your weight loss and health goals. You’ll work one-on-one with a Doctor and Registered Dietitian who will develop a personalized plan that includes lifestyle changes along with a prescription for FDA-approved medication, if appropriate. Schedule a call or send a message and get started with your weight loss journey. To start your personalized weight loss journey today, take our quiz here.
About the Author
Julia Axelbaum, RD, Director of Clinical Nutrition, CSOWM, LDN
Julia Axelbaum is a Registered Dietitian board certified in obesity and weight management at Form Health. She studied Nutrition and Public Health at New York University and completed her clinical training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Julia worked as a bariatric dietitian at NewStart Bariatrics in St. Louis, MO and went on to become the Bariatric Program Coordinator where she fully launched the center’s first non-surgical, medical weight loss program. Julia is passionate about helping her patients learn how to take control of emotional eating, develop a more balanced mindset and improve their relationship with food.