The word diet can conjure up a lot of emotions….. dread, fear, anxiety, etc. because it can be associated with feeling like you are starving, limited food options or only eating a few types of foods. However, trying to eat healthier, whether for weight loss or for your general health, doesn’t have to mean any of these things.
Millions of Americans diet each year, and unfortunately many of these diets don’t produce long lasting results. Many health experts are advocating to ditch the fad diets and starvation meal plans and instead just start incorporating healthy lifestyle choices.
In other words, shift how you are approaching getting healthier and losing weight.
Whether you call it a diet or just trying to eat healthier, making changes in your daily routine can be tough. It’s easy to be motivated to change around New Year’s, but changes need to be long term for a long term benefit.
Here are some tips to help you stick with a healthy diet for the long term.
#1 – Plan and prep your meals ahead of time.
Trying to come up with a healthy meal after you come home from a long day at work isn’t easy for most people. If you are trying to eat healthy but don’t plan your meals, you are making it harder on yourself to stick with it.
It’s the same with grocery shopping. If you go to the store and want to buy healthy food but don’t know what you’re going to make, you can end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
Planning your meals before you shop and cook can cut out fumbling in your pantry or staring in your refrigerator before meals. It may seem like it takes time and effort for meal planning, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Put together a list going to the store for ingredients you’ll need for the week (or however many days). This will also cut down on excess junk you buy at the store; stick to your list.
Prep meals as much as possible before hand by chopping up vegetables or making food and freezing leftovers. Whatever planning and prep works for you and your lifestyle is best.
The whole goal of eating a healthy diet is to make in the easy choice. Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time can help make it easy.
#2 – Don’t keep junk food in the house.
This is one of the most basic guidelines for eating healthy. You can’t be tempted to eat junk food if it’s not in your house or not in sight.
Instead of always trying to resist unhealthy food in your house, make it easier on yourself and just don’t put it there.
If you have kids, don’t fall into the trap that you need to have junk food in the house “for your kids (or partner)”.
#3 – Have a strong support system.
Whether it’s as part of a weight loss program, the support of your family, friends or an online community, sharing your journey with other people can help you succeed.
They can give you helpful tips for what did or didn’t work for their healthy choices and can help encourage you when you need it.
As the honeymoon newness wears off of changing your eating habits, a strong support system can help remind you why you should stick with your healthy diet.
There is also research to suggest we eat like the people we surround ourselves with. If you can eat with people who have similar goals for health, it can help make it easier for you to make healthy choices too.
#4 – Be honest with yourself.
Indulging in some of your favorite foods can still fit into a healthy eating plan as long as it’s small quantities and once in a while. Portion sizes are important to pay attention to even if you are eating healthy.
Being honest with yourself for portion sizes, indulgences and if you’re a parent eating your child’s leftovers can help you stick with a healthy diet.
Often times, extra servings of food or finishing your child’s food can slip in under the radar.
Over time, they could be contributing a significant amount of extra energy to your diet.
If you need a reality check, you could always truthfully track your food and beverage intake for a day or two. This could shed light on where you maybe aren’t getting enough fruits, veggies or getting more sugar than you thought, for example.
#5 – Write down your goals and see them every day.
Why do you want to follow a healthy diet? Write it down and put it somewhere you will see it.
Writing goals down and looking at them can serve as long term motivation for sticking with any changes in your habits.
If you see your goals, it can help you make the healthier choice when you don’t feel like it.
#6 – Get back on track if you fall off.
You are human; not every day will be perfect. What’s important if you maybe eat unhealthy for a day or two is to get back on track with your goals of eating healthy.
Don’t stay in a rut or in a defeated mindset. So what if you blew it by eating a whole bag of chips. Start fresh the next day and get back on track.
This can be how many people don’t stick with their goals. They get off track then think there’s no point to get back on track. Don’t fall into this mental state; keep going with your goals even with some setbacks.
#7 – Be consistent.
Maybe you have been eating healthy for a few weeks, or maybe you have been losing weight and now the weight loss has stopped. It can be tempting to think it’s useless eating healthy if you don’t see the results.
Being consistent with your diet choices is important for sticking with it long term and for seeing changes down the road.
Long term weight loss, or any other goal, will take time and dedication. Consistency with eating healthy is key.
#8 – Add variety.
Avoid fad diets that limit your food choices to only one food group or only one kind of fruit, meat, etc. There can be many ways to lose weight, and what may be more important to focus on is the quality of food you are eating.
Eating a variety of foods can be healthful for many reasons, as this gives you a variety of nutrients your boy needs.
Adding variety can also keep you from getting bored from what you’re eating. There’s many examples of healthy choices for whole grains, vegetables, fruits, proteins and fats that can be put together in unique, delicious ways.
Don’t get stuck in a food rut or get under the impression you can only eat a handful of foods to be healthy.