Starting and sticking to a healthy diet can be useful for healthy weight loss, increased body energy, and general health improvement.
Eating healthy can improve your mental health and boost your immunity. Adopting and maintaining a healthy diet can be a challenging process, but there are various ways through which you can overcome such challenges.
In this post, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to start a diet and stick to it.
Get and Stay Motivated
Create a game plan and follow it
Making concrete plans and goals for your diet can help in keeping you motivated. Once you have a game plan in place, do as much as you can to stick to it throughout the planned period or until you achieve your goal.
Consider the types of healthy foods accessible to you, and then develop a healthy and practical eating plan. Make sure to include only foods you enjoy.
Unprocessed foods such as fruits, veggies, and nuts are great for dieting. They have a high ability to satisfy, and they are low on calories.
Your game plan should involve gradually cutting down on the unhealthy foods you have been consuming while adopting healthier meals.
Your plan should be flexible enough to allow the introduction of new healthy foods.
Changing diet ought to be done slowly but gradually. Don’t attempt to overhaul your entire diet within a week as this may lead to failure.
Avoid having general plans and goals, but rather make them as specific as you can. For instance, having “lose weight” as a goal is too general.
Instead, create a specific diet plan and a specific goal such as ‘to lose 30 pounds in 9 months. Working with specifics is likely to make you more motivated.
First, set realistic goals about what you want to achieve, e.g., lose 20 pounds within six months.
Having an end-date that is specific and significant to you can be an additional motivation.
For instance, your end-date can be your wedding day, your birthday or the start of a new year.
Understanding where you currently stand is an important factor. You may seek the services of a fitness trainer so that you get a fitness assessment.
This will help you understand your starting point which you can use as a reference point to gauge your progress.
The fitness assessment may involve taking measurements such as waist and hips.
Have a concrete plan for each week. For instance, you could have a figure for how much weight you want to shed in a week.
Set a day when to weigh yourself. Avoid weighing yourself every single day because it could lead to an obsession with your weight.
Keep a log of what you ate and how you have progressed with your body goals – this helps with sticking to the plan.
However, ensure that you don’t obsess with the figures and with every single thing you eat.
You may also record your dieting thoughts in a dairy, analyzing what worked for you and what failed. Doing this helps to keep in touch with your inner self.
Have realistic expectations so as to remain motivated and avoid frustrations. This way you are more likely to stick to a healthy diet.
Stay Mentally Strong
Metal strength is perhaps the most crucial factor for success in dieting. As you probably already know, sticking to a diet is challenging, and sometimes it is just mentally overwhelming.
You may feel like you are constantly working against what your mind is telling you to do.
In case of a slip-up, which happens quite often, remembering why you are dieting helps a lot.
Most people start dieting for fitness and health purposes. Remind yourself what your goals are and why you are determined to stick to the dieting plan.
Having a mental image of where you want to be could be helpful.
When you feel like giving up, reading motivational quotes and watching motivational videos can help overcome the feeling.
You can also have some of your favorite motivational quotes stuck on your computer or work desk. This can help in keeping you focused on why you are dieting.
If you were once at your desired weight, you could stick a picture of yourself during that period on your fridge or desk.
Have a list of the reasons for your dieting. This list should be readily accessible for reading when you feel overwhelmed.
You can list them on an index card and keep it in your wallet or purse. You can also keep a picture or a screenshot of this list on your phone.
Reward Yourself for Your Progress
Sticking to a diet is mentally challenging, and that is why it is good to pat yourself in the back when you make progress. Rewarding yourself for what you have accomplished so far keeps you motivated to stick to your diet.
Set up a reward system based on how far you’ve gone towards your goal. You could reward yourself with clothes or treating yourself to a massage or pedicure.
If you succeed in sticking to a healthy diet all through the week, consider rewarding yourself on the weekend.
Your rewards don’t necessarily have to be food
Also, reminding yourself of the progress you have made so far is a great mental reward. It keeps you motivated and helps achieve happiness, which in turn helps with sticking to a diet.
Don’t Diet Alone
Having a dieting partner can make the process much easier. Having people around you that you can share your dieting success and challenges with can also be helpful.
Such people can be a support system, and they can go a long way in encouraging you to stick to your diet. When the going gets tough, supportive people can come in handy in incredible ways.
If you know someone else that’s already dieting, or that could start dieting, approach them and see whether they can be your diet buddy.
Sharing diet tips and motivating each other can be beneficial. You may also plan your meals with your diet buddy.
Join offline and online groups of people that are also on a diet. Knowing that you are not alone in the dieting journey can be encouraging.
Also, such platforms can be a rich source of tips and new ideas that could make dieting easier and more effective.
Confide in someone that is close to you about your dieting plan, goals and challenges. Seek their emotional support when you are facing difficulties with your dieting. Let them know how important your dieting is to you so that they take it seriously.
Avoid an “all or nothing” Approach to your Dieting
An ‘all or nothing’ approach is a sure way to failure in your dieting endeavors.
If you slip up and eat an unhealthy snack, don’t consider your day ruined – many have done this and gone ahead to overindulge in unhealthy foods. This is a bad mindset that you should avoid.
If you slip up, put the past behind you and focus on your future decision. An unhealthy snack at a party is not reason enough to throw it all away for the day.
Don’t be a perfectionist with your dieting. It is virtually impossible to be a perfectionist as most people do make mistakes from time to time. Your task is to avoid making mistakes, but when they happen, let it go and focus on your goal.
A few slip ups will not ruin your diet goals, as long as you stick to your diet as much as you can.
Avoid labeling days as good or bad depending on how you performed with your diet plans. This may lead to frustration and loss of motivation. Instead, watch what you eat in the present.
Stick to your Diet While Traveling
Traveling can pose a challenge to a healthy diet because you are in a new environment, but there are ways of dealing with this difficulty. Sticking to a healthy diet while traveling is achievable.
Before you start traveling, learn about the restaurants and food stores in the area you are traveling to.
Consider packing and carrying some non-perishable healthy foods.
Commit yourself to stick to your diet for most of the trip.
Practice Mindful Eating
Eating mindfully can increase your chances of success with your diet. Eating mindfully means enjoying your food in the moment and appreciating its tastiness and nourishing effect.
Don’t turn food and eating into a means to an end. Instead, focus on enjoying your food and the process of eating in the moment.
This can be very helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and creating sustainable behavioral changes.
Mindful eating can be instrumental in developing an improved relationship with food. It can also help to reduce instances of overindulgence.
Respect the Learning Curve
You should realize that making significant changes to your eating habits usually takes time. Don’t be frustrated if sticking to your diet takes much longer than you initially expected. Instead, endeavor to attain higher levels of focus and motivation.
With time, sticking to a healthy diet becomes more natural.
Eat Three Meals a Day
Skipping meals makes you feel hungry and lethargic, which could lead to a loss of motivation.
Prioritize on foods such as oats for breakfast because they keep you satisfied for longer periods, therefore reducing the desire for unhealthy snacks before lunch. Have your dinner as soon as you get home to avoid a pig out before the main meal.
Note that breakfast is a very important meal in your dieting. Skipping breakfast makes you more likely to overeat during lunch and dinner.
If you slip up with your dieting on one day, don’t skip meals the following day, as this is likely to make you lose track even more.
Plan for your three meals well ahead of time, especially if you are a busy person. Proper planning can help you stick to your diet.
Remove the Bulk of Unhealthy Foods from the House
Reducing the unhealthy foods in the house makes it less likely to consume them. You don’t necessarily have to get rid of everything in your fridge; the point is to eliminate the excesses. You can give away the food or have family members that aren’t on a diet eat them.
Most foods are only unhealthy if consumed in excessive quantities. For instance, a bowl of peanut butter could be unhealthy, but a spoonful of peanut butter is healthy.
You may also decide to face out the unhealthy foods in your house by only buying healthy foods going forward.
When going shopping, it would help if you made a shopping list of the healthy foods you want to buy, and make sure you adhere to the shopping list.
By not adding any unhealthy foods, the reserves of what is already in your house will get depleted with time.
If possible, substitute the unhealthy foods you have been consuming with healthy alternatives.
For instance, you can face out ice cream and have it replaced with yogurt or fruit popsicles. Keep healthy snacks in your home and get rid of the unhealthy ones.
Stick to the Diet when You’re Out
When heading out for a night, don’t adopt the mentality that you can drop your diet and then resume the next day.
Such a mindset will likely be detrimental to your dieting endeavors. It is good to acknowledge that going out exposes you to temptations of breaking your diet rules, but you don’t have to fall into these mind traps.
When going out to a party, ensure that you have a solid, healthy meal before heading out. Doing so will help overcome the temptation of consuming too much of the unhealthy snacks going around in the party.
The point here is that you are less likely to eat much when you are already full. Take a meal that will keep you full for a longer period.
Carry healthy snacks with you if that is practical. For instance, if you are heading out for a movie night, you could carry healthy snacks such as grapes or a bag of almonds. This will help you to avoid unhealthy snacks in the movie theater successfully.
If you are out for dinner where a variety of foods are on offer, always go with the healthiest of the options.
Check the menu carefully to identify the healthier items. You may be surprised how much healthy choices you can get while eating out.
Also, if there is a wide range of snacks on offer, prioritize the healthy ones over the unhealthy ones.
Eat at Home as Much as Possible
Eating at home is a very effective way of avoiding temptations. While at home, you are pretty much in control of everything – you have control over what food you cook and how you cook it.
This may not be the case when you are eating out – you have less control over the healthy foods availed to you. There are various ways of making the most out of eating at home.
Becoming a better cook can be very helpful in your dieting. When you develop a love for cooking, you are likely to cook more at home because you will feel motivated to do so.
You are also likely to cook better and tastier food – this will make you enjoy your healthy foods more.
With better cooking skills you will be able to find and try new healthy recipes, which can lead to a wider variety of healthy meals at home – you are more likely to stick to a healthy diet if you have a variety of healthy options to choose from.
Instead of going out, consider inviting your friends to eat in at your home. Once you become a great cook, your friends will be more willing to accept your offer of staying in the house and cook instead of heading out.
With time, you all will realize that it is a more intimate way of eating healthier food. It is also cost-effective.
If you can’t have your lunch at home, consider packing and carrying lunch to work. Doing this will help you to avoid junk food or skipping a meal.
Not Punishing Yourself
Eat What you Love
A healthy diet does not have to be a diet that you dislike. There is a wide variety of healthy foods you can choose from.
It is important that you choose what you enjoy eating. By doing so, you are more likely to stick to your diet. Eating foods that you don’t like is demotivating and difficult.
Be keen on trying out different recipes as you may come across more recipes that you love. Being on a healthy diet should involve discovering new and healthier foods, rather than struggling with foods that you dislike.
To discover tasty and healthy foods, consider checking out your grocery store for new fruits and vegetables.
Try introducing new fruits and vegetables in your recipes on a regular basis. Find ways of including these new ingredients in different delicious recipes.
Discover the foods you dislike and avoid them. There is no point in forcing yourself to eat a particular type of food while there are so many suitable options.
Eating should be a pleasant process; keep it that way. If you can’t stand the taste of a particular type of food or ingredient, steer clear of it.
Find new ways of creating different recipes from your favorite ingredients. Doing this will avail even more suitable food options for you.
Develop a Workout Routine
Adopting a workout routine can help you stick to a healthy diet. Find a workout that is most suitable for you and that you enjoy, so that you won’t have to struggle doing it. Your workout routine doesn’t have to be intense, it just needs to be adequate.
Don’t go Hungry
Allowing yourself to go hungry exposes you to the risk of indulging in unhealthy foods. When you are hungry, you are likely to find any food appealing even when it’s unhealthy.
Hunger is a recipe for bad decisions in regard to dieting. Being hungry also makes you feel demotivated to sticking to your diet.
In between meals, ensure that you have a healthy snack every few hours. Avoid staying for many hours without eating anything.
If possible, carry healthy snacks with you when heading out. This helps with avoiding unhealthy snacks.
If you realize that your meal will be late, get yourself a snack so that you don’t go hungry while waiting.
Do not starve yourself. Make sure that your calorie intake is sufficient. It is important to note that your body consumes a lot of energy while performing basic functions.
You ought to provide it with enough calories for enough energy. Check the level of calorie intake that is suitable for your body size, and make sure that you do not go below this level.
Lack of sufficient energy will make you sluggish, and it can expose you to other serious health risks.
Indulge Once in a While
To avoid feeling trapped in your new healthy diet, consider having your favorite non-healthy snack once in a while.
Be careful with the indulgence to avoid making it a routine. Avoid getting into a vicious spiral with these non-healthy snacks.
Also, indulge lightly – don’t overdo it.
Indulging kills the cravings and helps you to stay focused on your diet.
If your friends are heading out for a meal, this would be a suitable time to indulge a little bit while you enjoy their company.
Once you have the craving out of the way, resume your diet until the next indulgence time.
Adopting and sustaining a healthy diet may be a challenging issue, but it can be done successfully.
Success in dieting requires mental strength, and strategic planning and execution.
This guide has outlined various strategies that can help you start a healthy diet and stick to it.