5 Ways to Stick to a Healthy Diet

Put that sugary drink down. It’s time to conquer your diet.

Happy woman in the kitchen eating healthy vegetables as part of her healthy diet.

Healthy eating is not only vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and feeling your best, but it reduces your risk of developing certain diseases. An unhealthy diet can lead to health concerns like obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and some cancers including endometrial (or uterine) cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer.

Dieting is hard, but it’s a daily habit that will benefit you for years to come. A healthy diet can help increase your life expectancy, maintain a healthy immune system, improve your mood, and boost your energy level, so you can fully tackle the day ahead.

Your dietary struggles may be caused by a psychological roadblock. You may not even recognize that these hurdles are preventing you from maintaining healthy eating habits.

Here are four common psychological roadblocks to consider:

  • All-or-nothing thinking: In this mindset, you view anything less than complete adherence to a diet plan as a total failure. As a result, a single slip-up might be enough to cause you to abandon your healthy eating plans altogether.
  • Negative body image: A negative body image can make it hard to stick to healthy eating plans. Because you become focused not on the progress you have made toward a healthier lifestyle, but on your feelings about the physical appearance of your body.
  • Stress: Overeating often happens when you’re stressed and not focused on mindfully eating.
  • Depression: Poor eating habits can be a major symptom of clinical depression. If you are experiencing other signs of depression like hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, or thoughts of suicide, you should speak to your healthcare provider right away.

Do any of these resonate with you? Before jumping back into a diet plan, be sure to take some time to uncover what may be keeping you from achieving a healthy diet.

Related: 3 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating

Your mental state plays a big part in your diet success. When dieting, it’s important to not get discouraged—even when you do fall off the diet wagon—and continue to move forward with a positive mindset.

Tips to help you stick with your diet plan

Here are a few things you can do to help you stick to your diet plan and finally meet those goals:

1. Don’t have unrealistic expectations

Be realistic in your goals for creating a healthy lifestyle. Set diet goals that are attainable and realistic.

For example, don’t plan on skipping out on so many calories that you plan on losing 30 pounds in three weeks. That’s an unhealthy approach to any diet and will be unsustainable over the long term.

2. Start small

Don’t do too much at once. When starting a diet, a common mistake is to plan to remove entire food groups from your diet, and oftentimes these will be some of your favorites.

Instead of cutting out sugar, start with a small goal like having one big treat each week to help you stay on track. If you go into dieting with the “all-or-nothing” mindset, it’ll be very easy to give up when you indulge in a sugary treat during the week.

3. Meal prep

If you take time one day a week to meal prep all the week’s upcoming lunches and dinners, especially meals that you love, you’ll be more inclined to choose something that is already freshly made for you instead of making your way to a drive-through. Check out this article on meal prepping to help you get started.

Related: Don’t Skip Meals: Here are 5 Tips to Planning Weight-Loss Friendly Meals

4. Carry healthy snacks

If you have healthy snacks packed at the office, you’ll be able to satisfy your sweet tooth with some frozen grapes or a square or two of dark chocolate instead of taking a trip to the vending machine. The same applies to being at home.

If you buy healthy snacks instead of junk food, you’ll find that parmesan crisps and light white cheddar popcorn are just as satisfying as potato chips when you get a case of the munchies.

5. Commit to a plan you can love

If you hate your diet and it’s making you miserable, you won’t want to stick to it. So, find a plan you love instead. For example, counting macros is a current hot diet that allows you to eat all of your favorite foods in moderation, which might be a good option for you.

It’s always good to talk to your healthcare provider about which diet is best for you, so you don’t miss out on any key nutrients. As a bonus, your healthcare provider may also provide some helpful tips for sticking to a given diet plan.

Dieting doesn’t have to be torturous. You can also visit a trained dietician for extra support. Remember, always keep the mindset that dieting should help you get healthier, not thinner and that it’s a slow journey, not fast.

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