With the plethora of diets and meal ideas available today, deciding what to put on your plate is fairly easy. It’s sticking to your new eating plan that can prove to be more challenging than expected. In a study published by the Nutrition Journal, more than 26% of people said they gave up on their diets before reaching their desired goals.
So, what can you do to ensure that you maintain this all-important habit? The solution is twofold. First, you need to start correctly. With an effective plan in place, you then need to stay aware of the common hurdles that might get in the way of your efforts – and how to overcome them. With this in mind, here are four tips for sticking to a healthier diet.
Set Your Course
Have you ever wondered why the likes of Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were almost always seen in the same outfit? The answer, these powerful figures have said, is decision fatigue. As we make one choice after another, our ability to do so deteriorates.
By eliminating arbitrary decisions like what to wear today, your mental energy is spared for more crucial decisions. We can apply the same strategy to dieting.
It’s difficult to choose the right food for dinner when coming home after a long day of work, for example. You’ll probably be more inclined to order takeout instead of preparing that chicken salad. Therefore, it helps to get rid of as many decisions around what you eat as possible. A common way to do this is by setting up a meal plan.
There are many delicious meal plans available online for you to customize and follow. Some services even allow you to create weekly shopping lists with all the ingredients you need and have them delivered from your preferred grocer. You may also want to look into meal prepping, which essentially involves cooking your food in advance to save time.
Keep it Fresh
As you set up your meal plan, make sure that there’s enough variety in it to keep things interesting. That chocolate cake will be much easier to resist when you’re not cycling through the same handful of recipes week after week. If you begin to feel bored, take some time to find a new (healthy) way to keep your taste buds entertained.
Track and Measure
Studies have shown that people who log their meals lose more weight than those who don’t. The basic principle is that when you write down what you’ve eaten, you stay aware of any mistakes or less-than-ideal choices you’ve made, and are then more likely to change that behavior in the future.
This can feel tiresome to do on traditional pen and paper, so consider an app such as Nutrients, MyFitnessPal or another calorie counter/diet tracker to take the tedium out of recording your food.
For many, the biggest challenge comes when attending social gatherings. Since most are centered around food, activities like meeting family or going out with friends can be especially stressful as you may feel pressured to oblige to drinks and meals that don’t align with your diet.
Aside from being mindful and resilient, another workaround is to switch to more healthy activities that don’t necessarily involve eating or drinking. You might go for a walk, take yoga classes or visit local attractions. This isn’t always possible, but you can always assert your stance when it comes to what you should and should not eat.
Finally, be wary of so-called “cheat days”. The general consensus is that a diet is only sustainable in their absence. That said, a bit of discipline and determination will go a long way here. Good luck!