The holidays are coming and with them the inevitable New Year resolutions. That means it’s time to have another shot at your goals, especially if you failed to stick to them last year.
Developing healthy eating habits is one of the most popular plans people try to follow over and over again. A good diet is one that not only helps you lose excess weight, but also gets you fit and healthy. However, sticking to a diet plan is never easy because temptation seems to be everywhere. Many people quit their diet after a few weeks, or sometimes even days. A survey from the UK recently found that women start, on average, three different diets a year, and stay on each one for an average of about 19 days – and by Day five, two-thirds have already cheated – tempted by at least one of the top five diet deal breakers: chocolate, potato chips, wine, pizza and cake.
Fortunately help is on its way! Thanks to Susan Bowerman, director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife, you can set a realistic weight loss goal for the coming New Year and be prepared to achieve it. Just remember that getting in shape is the best New Year’s gift for yourself!
Bowerman shares five reasons why it is so hard to stick to your diet and explains how to fix them.
Diet failure reason #1: It doesn’t fit your lifestyle
This happens when people try to adopt a diet plan that just doesn’t fit with their lifestyle. Maybe it calls for a lot of food preparation and you just don’t like to cook, or don’t have time. Maybe there are too many restrictions – so you quickly get bored, or you can’t find anything you can eat when you go out with friends or family.
Easy diet fix
Rather than trying the latest “diet”, focus on making lifestyle changes for the long term. If you don’t have time to cook or don’t enjoy it, seek out recipes that are quick and easy, and learn your way around a restaurant menu so that you can always find something that works for you.
Diet failure reason #2: Your expectations aren’t realistic
Once you’ve made the decision to “go on a diet”, you may have high expectations for your weight loss – especially if you find yourself making a lot of sacrifices. But if you expect to lose more than you can safely achieve over a period of time, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. And if you expect that you’re going to follow your new diet to the letter, you’ll probably abandon the whole thing as soon as you make a slip.
Easy diet fix
First, recognise that a safe and reasonable rate of weight loss is about 0.5 – 1 kilogram per week. And recognise, too, that when you’re working to establishing healthy new habits, it’s natural to slip once in a while. Rather than letting that diet slip turn into a diet fail – and giving up altogether – try to learn from your mistakes and allow some time for the new habits to get established.
Diet failure reason #3: You don’t change your environment.
Your environment has a big effect on your eating. Think about what you keep in your refrigerator, freezer and cupboards at home, the snacks you have stashed in your desk, the burger places or bakery shops you pass on your way to work every day. There are temptations all around you, and if you don’t take charge of your environment, it’s just too easy to give in.
Easy diet fix
Clear tempting, high-calorie foods out of your house and replace them with healthier items. Rather than a jar of candy on your desk or a bag of cookies on your kitchen counter, put out some fresh fruit or protein snack bars. Cut up some fresh veggies and put them in a highly visible spot in your refrigerator where they’ll be the first things you see. And if you can’t drive or walk past your favourite food shops that contain an unhealthy menu without taking a detour into the shop, find another route.
Diet failure reason #4: You don’t eat regular meals and snacks
Too often, people think the quickest way to weight loss is to just eat as little as possible. So, they skip meals and snacks – which leaves them hungry, tired and cranky … and craving sugar and caffeine to get them through the day. Skipping meals and snacks usually doesn’t help you lose weight, because you’re likely to just eat more at your next meal.
Easy diet fix
Work on establishing a regular eating pattern that will keep you from getting overly hungry. In general, people feel the need to eat about every 3-4 hours during the day, which means that most people need – at a minimum – three meals and a snack in the afternoon. When you know you’re going to eat every few hours, it makes it easier to control your portions at each meal and snack, too. And make sure that each meal and snack provides some low-fat protein to help keep your hunger under control.
Diet failure reason #5: You eat for reasons other than hunger
Emotional eaters turn to food when they’re feeling depressed, lonely, angry or stressed. If you find yourself eating when you’re not really physically hungry, you’ll want to work on finding other ways to make yourself feel better.
Easy diet fix
Rather than ‘stuffing down’ the negative feeling with food, just let it be. It might help to write down how you’re feeling, or to call a friend and talk it out. You can also tell yourself that you’ll wait 5 or 10 minutes before giving in – chances are you’ll get busy doing something else and forget about eating altogether. And exercise is one of the best mood-lifters around. Instead of drowning your sorrows with sweets, put on your shoes and go take a walk, or get down on the floor and stretch instead.