So you’ve turned over a new leaf and starting eating healthier, maybe even counting calories and cutting out so-called junk foods – but now you’re finding it hard to maintain your new “diet” and feel like giving up. Sticking to your plan doesn’t occur without difficulty, but it can be done.
The first thing you must understand is that diets don’t work. If it’s a diet you’re trying to maintain, it’s bound to fail. Instead, your new healthy lifestyle should include realistic changes you can live with.
Don’t Restrict Yourself Too Much
There are foods that are generally classified as healthy. We all know what they are – vegetables, fruits, whole grain, lean meats and water for the most part. An eating plan that includes these foods alone would surely get you to any weight loss goal you’re attempting. They, no doubt, are some of the greatest foods you can put into your body. For some people it’s not hard at all to eat only these foods.
Then there are some who want to try a little more variety or sometimes get the urge for those devilishly delicious, high-calorie foods every now and then – like chocolate cake, ice cream, potato chips, steak, burgers, French fries, pizza or lasagna. Detouring every now and then from the healthy list of foods occasionally – and in moderation – will not totally derail your healthy lifestyle.
The important thing to remember is that if you restrict yourself too much or cut out the foods that you love, you are more likely to overindulge on them later. As long as certain foods don’t directly affect your health (such as sugary drinks for diabetics, salty foods for hypertension patients or acidic foods for gout sufferers), they don’t have to be completely off limits. Think of these other foods as treats reserved for your birthday or favorite holidays, which only come around once a year.
As infrequently as you might eat birthday cake, sweet potato pie at Christmastime, chocolate hearts on Valentine’s Day or cream-filled bunnies on Easter, mentally note that that’s how infrequently you should allow yourself to indulge in junk foods and desserts. If that’s not often enough for you and you still struggle with cravings for those foods, significantly limit your portions (a small piece of cake or pie, for example) and treat yourself maybe once a month.
So that you don’t overindulge, be sure to do the following:
- Avoid eating alone, at which times many of us are tempted to eat more.
- Drink lots of water throughout the day and have at least a cupful before each meal or snack so that there’s less room in your stomach for food.
- Stop eating as soon as you feel the first sensation that you are getting full.
- Put your food on a dish, in a bowl or other container rather than eating out of packages, so that it’s visually measured and you see how much you’re really eating.
- On days when you know you’re going to eat something higher in calories, compensate by eating less of your usual foods that week. This way calories will stay under control and you won’t put on additional weight just because you wanted a snack.
Moderation is key in all things, especially when eating. Don’t overthink it or overdo it. Just remember that good things in equals good things out.