Diet. A four letter word that says many different things: a temporary fix to help you lose weight, something that feels like a necessary but impossible task, eating without any pleasure and joy, a good intention that does not last. Or sensible eating, that needn’t be daunting and will kick start you into reaching your health goals.
The main reason why diets do not work is the short term lifespan of them, especially if they are the drastic kind that makes you cut out a full food group, or substitute a shake for a meal. However every now and then people can learn how to transform those temporary diets into a lifestyle.
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Try following these steps and see if you can have a long term relationship with your diet.
Stop calling it a diet! The word diet correlates to restriction. If we continuously call your nutrition plan a diet it will mentally feel like a restriction, which will cause you to want to rebel like a teenager who is told not to do something.
Instead look at your new way of eating as just the way you eat, or a nutritional program/ habit. For example, people who are trying to be vegan for the first time (maybe for religious, ethical or dieting reasons), do not say they’re on a vegan diet, but rather that they are vegan, its a normal way of life for them, a statement, rather than a temporary fix to a goal they have.
Make sure it’s realistic: Lets be honest, cutting out all sugar, and drastically cutting calories is not going to work for the rest of your life. You’ll come into situations where you may go on vacation and slip up by indulging during that time, and guess what…that’s OK!
Nutrition programs only work if they allow room for flexibility. One rule that is common and practical is eating healthy 80-90% of the time and allowing wiggle room for the other 10-20%. Because, lets face it, we all get cravings and instead of being a slave to those cravings all the time, just allow yourself to feed into them only once in a while.
Surround yourself with people who support you: When you’re first starting out on any nutritional program it can seem like temptation is everywhere. The good news is that eventually you’ll learn that the donuts in the break room will make you feel sluggish, the extra drink at dinner leaves you feeling tired the next day, and the fried processed foods just don’t naturally work with your body but against it.
Before you gain the willpower and understanding, make sure to surround yourself with people who want to help you on your nutrition journey. Find like=minded individuals who you can share recipes with, enjoy healthy new lunch spots together, and talk about the occasional ups and downs to this new lifestyle you’ve created. This will help you stay on track because not only are you doing this for yourself, but in the beginning it helps to have another person relying on your success.
Set Yourself up for Success: With any change it is easy to fall into old habits to the point where you forget why you started a new journey in the first place. Make sure to stay on the right path by planning ahead. For example, choose a day of the week where you can plan out all your meals, go the grocery store, and meal prep.
This will set you up for the rest of the week and having the meals already prepared for you makes it more convenient to eat those healthy meals than trying to find another, typically less healthy option.
Another great tip is to always have a healthy snack on hand to avoid the 3pm low blood sugar lull where majority of people tend to crave sweets.
Drink water! It’s no secret that having enough water consumption throughout the day is important for every bodily function. However, many people do not consume enough. The moment you wake up you should consume a full glass of water. This will help break the body of the dehydration it has experienced through sleep and kick start he metabolism.
Throughout the day, consumption of water is important not only to help with all bodily functions but because if you are dehydrated the body may begin to produce cravings for unhealthy foods. This is because the body starts to feel tired so it might tell the brain it needs sugar to help spike the blood sugar and produce more energy. Don’t let this happen to you! Instead bring around a water bottle wherever you go and sip that water all throughout the day.
It’s worth it!
Although making lifestyle changes can seem like a daunting task, know that the benefits of eating healthy as a long term commitment, has much more benefits then a short term dieting fix. If you are starting a new nutrition program for the first time and have no idea where to start, reach out to a Registered Dietician in your area who can help set a program for you.
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Shannon Dolan