The business of dieting is exhausting and not sustainable for most. So, what’s a worn out dieter to do? Here are 8 easy ways to find a healthy eating plan that you’ll still be following next January.
- Stop looking for a quick fix. Healthy habits that last are built on sustainable systems that you can keep up forever — not until you reach your goal.
- Make no more than 2 changes at a time. Choose only 1 or 2 desired habits like drinking enough water, eating breakfast or meal planning — then get really good at it. Once you’ve mastered this and it feels like a habit, add another, but start with something attainable and get off to a good start.
- Focus on ADDING foods, not taking them away. Adding in nutritious options such as fruit between meals or a vegetable with every meal, eating fish at least once a week, or adding more plant- forward meals that include beans and whole grains to your rotation (BeBOLD bars make this one easy!)
- Eat breakfast every day. People who eat breakfast tend to snack less later in the day and experience fewer sugar cravings.
- Eat enough: Cutting too many calories can slow your metabolism and lead to overeating. A few signs you’re not eating enough during the day include late night snack habit, sugar or carbohydrate cravings, difficulty sleeping, moodiness, and low energy.
- Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation leads to an increased production of the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreased production of the fullness hormone leptin (a bad combination if you’re trying not to overeat!). Plus, cortisol — the stress hormone — increases, which can lead to sugar cravings.
- Cut the distractions. Ditch the phone, TV, and laptop while you’re eating. Eat slowly, savor and pay attention to how the food smells, tastes, and feels in your mouth. Experiencing your food can help you get more satisfaction out of it and can ward off unnecessary snacking later in the day.
- Stop focusing on weight as the only measure of success. When the scale doesn’t move, it can be easy to give up and lose momentum on any positive changes you’ve made for health. Measure success by improved energy, better exercise performance and recovery, fewer cravings, or even changes to health markers like cholesterol or blood pressure.
If ditching diets feels scary or uncomfortable – that’s ok! It’s something new. For more support, look for a registered dietitian in your area who specializes in intuitive eating or non-diet work.
Sarah Gold Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counselor, and the owner of Sarah Gold Nutrition, a virtual private practice and nutrition communications consulting business in the suburbs of Boston. She empowers busy moms to ditch diets and learn to eat to feel their best without the stress.