Hands up if you have tried starting a diet, promised yourself that you will stick to it but found yourself slipping and eventually falling off in a couple of days or weeks. If this sounds like a constant cycle in your life, then learning tips and tricks on how to stay on a diet will save you and your waistline. In this article we will give you insider tips on ‘how to stay motivated on a diet,’ ‘how to stay full on a diet,’ as well as ‘how long to stay on a diet,’ and much more.
How To Stay On A Diet?
While many of us start a diet hoping to shed some extra pounds, the benefits of a healthy diet go far beyond losing weight. A healthy eating plan (20):
- Lowers the risk of cancer.
- Lowers the risk of type II diabetes and can help those with the disease manage it better.
- Significantly decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
- Strengthens bones and teeth in both children and adults.
- Improves brain cognition.
- Can help you fall asleep faster, deeper and better.
- Improves gut health and boosts your mood.
In light of the above-mentioned benefits, it is clear to see that a healthy eating plan should be adopted by everyone, not just those who wish to lose weight. Here are some tips on how to stay on a diet (4):
Have Realistic Expectations
Those who start a healthy eating plan looking to lose weight, always tend to envision themselves losing the highest possible amount of body weight in the shortest time possible. However, despite how desirable this goal is, it is quite impossible to do it in the right way. According to the CDC a healthy weight loss is one that is done gradually and steadily with a loss of about 1 to 2 pounds a week (22).
Not only is this healthier and safer for you, but it is also a long-term solution. A multicenter medical study published in 2005 revealed that those who go into a weight loss program expecting to lose large amounts of body weight are most likely to give up and drop out of it in 6 to 12 months (18). To prevent this, always have realistic expectations instead of fantasizing about an impossible goal.
Clear Out Your Fridge And Pantry
One of the quickest ways for you to fall off a diet is through access to unhealthy food options. When you decide to start a new healthy diet, go through your fridge, freezer, and pantry and take out all the unhealthy foods and snacks that you can find. You may choose to donate them or just throw them out, but at the end of the day, your home should be cleared out of these ‘temptation foods.’
Delete Your Food Delivery Apps
Everyone loves the convenience of food delivery. It comes in handy when you are too busy or too lazy to cook. However, one of the biggest downsides about food delivery is that most people will rarely, if ever,- pick healthy options when ordering. Instead of running the risk of ordering foods that are not part of your new diet, delete the apps and take away the temptation.
Jumping headfirst into a new diet and cutting out all ‘bad foods’ cold turkey is another reason why people find it hard to stick to a healthy eating plan. While cutting out unhealthy foods is good for your health, doing it all at once is not advisable.
You are bound to start craving them and once you give in you will derail your plans on how to stay on a diet. Instead of going cold turkey, choose to reduce your intake of such foods. This will wean you and your pallet off them and eventually you will find out that you no longer crave them.
Start Working Out
Please note that this does not mean that you should immediately purchase gym membership on the day you choose to start a healthy meal plan. Exercise does not have to be done at a gym or at a high intensity to be effective. You can choose to start with easy physical activities like taking a walk, hiking or swimming for just 30 minutes a day.
The changes experienced from a combination of exercise and a healthy meal plan are one of the secrets on how to stay on a diet. The results of a randomized controlled trial published in 2013, also showed that participants who were eating a healthy diet and exercising at the same were able to to maintain these behaviors than those who started with either diet or exercise alone, then added the other later (7).
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is described as maintaining awareness every time you eat or drink something. It means paying attention to what you are putting in your body, what it looks like, its taste, and how it makes you feel (13). Mindful eating also calls for you to take note of when you feel full.
If you are wondering ‘how to stay healthy on a diet’ then this is a fantastic place to start. Taking note of these points helps you learn more about yourself and the things that you ingest. It also enables you to make better and healthier choices that serve the purpose of how to stay healthy on a diet.
Identify Your Triggers
Paying attention to what first caused your weight gain or unhealthy eating habits is a good how to stay on a die tip. Have you been stress eating? Do you throw your diet out the window the moment you go out with friends? Or maybe you get bored and automatically reach for food?
Identifying what triggers you to slip off your healthy eating plan will enable you to be aware of them and thus you will quickly realize that you are falling back into old habits and put a stop to it.
Be Kinder To Yourself And Do Not Give Up
Staying on a diet, especially in the beginning, is not easy. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Despite your best intentions and plans on how to stay healthy in a diet, you are bound to have cravings and slip up a time or two.
Instead of telling yourself that you are a failure, forgive yourself for the mishap, pick yourself back up again and continue from where you left off. Do not wait for weeks or days before getting back on track. Fix your mistake by doing better at the next meal.
Find Out What Works Best For You
There are hundreds of diets available today, each of them promising to help you lose weight and live your best healthy life. While it is impossible to try all of them, doing your research before committing to one will help immensely with your how to stay on a diet problem. Just because a specific eating plan worked for your friend does not mean it will work for you. Experiment a little before settling on one. If you still cannot figure it out, talk to a nutritionist and they can help you narrow down your options and find you a perfect fit.
Change Your Mindset
You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You should realize that you cannot eat whatever you desire and get slimmer and healthier at the same time (3).
Start Meal Prepping
Meal or food prepping are one of the most effective tips on not only how to stay on a diet, but also how to stay healthy on a diet. Meal prepping means that you have already cooked and portioned out all that you have to do whenever you are hungry is to take it out of the fridge and heat it up.
Food prepping on the other hand, means preparing your ingredients (peeling. cutting, grating, chopping, etc.) and keeping it in sealed containers or bags in your fridge. Unlike meal prep that will have you eating the same kinds of meals for several days straight, food prepping gives you an option of making different meals, depending on what you are hungry for at the moment.
Irrespective of what prep method you choose, both options save time (you do not have to spend an eternity in the kitchen), and are foolproof methods to keep you from ordering or buying unhealthy food options.
How To Stay Motivated On A Diet?
You now know how to stay on a diet, but how can you be sure to remain motivated on a diet, even on days where you would give anything to eat an entire pizza by yourself? Here are some tips (2):
Try New Foods
An unfortunate fact is that healthy foods have been marketed as bland, boring foods that have no flavour to them. This is not true. Healthy meals do not just consist of eating boiled chicken, steamed broccoli, rice and lettuce all day. All cuisines have healthy options to them that you can try. Look for healthy and nutritional recipes in cookbooks and online (5). Looking forward to trying a new healthy meal is certainly an answer on how to stay motivated on a diet.
Get A Partner
An accountability partner is a great way to help with motivation. Going on a healthy diet alone can be a boring and sometimes daunting experience. However, when you have a partner, you automatically find someone to encourage you and keep you motivated, especially on days where you feel tempted to quit or cheat on your diet.
Track Your Progress
There is no better motivation than seeing the changes caused by a healthier eating plan. If you are looking to lose weight, buy a tape measure and take note of how many inches you have lost so far. If your endurance at the gym had been low before, take note to see if you are now able to run for longer and lift weight for longer without feeling too tired. Go for a physical check up and see if your blood sugar and cholesterol levels have gone down. Such factors are great motivators to help you stay on a diet.
Think About How Far You’ve Come
Taking a look at old pictures and realizing how much your body has changed since you started your diet is a good tip on how to stay motivated (6). If your body has changed that much, how much better can it look if you continue to stay on a healthy diet?
Remember Your ‘why’
Were you looking to fit into that dress by your birthday? Or maybe your health had deteriorated so much that you were risking your life. Remembering your initial goals works well on how to stay on a diet and not giving up.
Celebrate Every Milestone
If that pair of jeans can go past your thighs when it couldn’t before then that is a cause for celebration. If you have learned a new healthy recipe and enjoyed the food, celebrate that as well. Have your cravings for sugars and unhealthy carbs reduced. Such small wins are what keep people motivated even when the scale is not moving as fast as you would like it to.
Please remember that celebrating your wins, or rewarding yourself for progress is not done through food. A reward system that revolves around food will just ruin your diet, instead choose to buy that new book you have been wanting to read. Take a day off from work and do something that you love. Give time to an old hobby that you forgot about, etc.
Keep A Journal
Writing down your goals, struggles, setbacks and successes can be a great way to motivate yourself when you are feeling like you aren’t doing enough, or when you feel like you are putting in all the effort without seeing results.
How To Stay Full On A Diet?
When dieting, you are required to cut down on the amount of food you consume per day; this not only leads to weight loss, but it also has other multiple health benefits. However, a downside to this is that you may end up feeling hungrier than usual before your body adjusts to smaller amounts of food.
So what can you do to stay full on a diet?
1. Make sure you are eating enough calories
A calorie deficit diet requires you to eat just about 500 to 100 calories a day from your usual meals (8). However, when going on a diet, people drastically cut their number of calories, meaning that they are not eating enough to sustain themselves. Recognize how many calories you should eat on a diet and do not go below that. As a general rule, women should not eat fewer than 1200 calories per day and men should not eat fewer than 1500.
2. Eat more protein
Proteins are notorious for helping keep you fuller for longer as it reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin, while increasing the satiety hormone in the body (15).
3. Eat more fiber
A review published in 2001 revealed that adding an extra 14 grams of fiber to your daily meals may decrease your calorie intake by up to 10%. This alone could lead to a weight loss of about 1.9 kgs in about 4 months (9). Fiber rich foods include whole grains such as barley and oatmeal, beans, nuts, vegetables, and fruits such as apples, berries, citrus fruits, and pears.
4. Carry healthy snacks
Being on a diet does not mean that you should starve yourself. Carrying healthy and nutritional snacks with you is one way to ensure that you are sticking to your healthy eating plan, and you have something to nibble on whenever you are hungry. As long as your snacks are within your recommended calorie intake, you are free to consume as many of them as you would like.
5. Drink more water
Water is a natural appetite suppressant. Whenever you start feeling hungry, first drink a cup of water and wait to see if your hunger disappears; more often than not our brains confuse thirst with hunger. A study done in 2014 revealed that women who drank half a liter of water three times a day 30 min before breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 8 weeks lost weight, fat and decreased their BMI (10).
6. Practice mindful eating
As stated above, this practice can help to learn how to stay on a diet. Another positive about mindfulness is that it helps control binge-eating (14), something that often happens to people when they break a diet.
If you are wondering how to stay full on a vegan diet, the same rules apply as above. The only difference is that when it comes to proteins, vegans do not consume animal proteins or products, dairy and its products as well as fish (21). Vegans who wonder how to stay on a diet and still be full should consume their protein from plant based options such as legumes, spelt, seitan, tofu, lentils, chickpeas, and hemp seeds, among others (17).
How long to stay on a diet?
It is recommended that a diet should last anywhere between 9 to 12 weeks (2 and a half to 3 months) (11).
How long is it safe to stay on a keto diet?
While there is extensive research on the short-term effects of a keto diet, the long-term effects of this eating plan are still relatively unknown. In light of this, it is recommended not to stay on this meal plan for more than six months (12).
How to stay on a diet without just eating salads?
It is important to note that despite all the information in the media, a diet does not just mean eating salads all day everyday. You can still eat a well balanced diet that is full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Just remember to watch your calorie intake, eat more fruits and a mix of vegetables and watch your portion sizes (19). The above points are also applicable to anyone wondering how to stay on a healthy diet.
How to stay on a diet without cheating?
There is no specific timeline on how long you should stay on a diet before your first cheat day. However, some people incorporate a cheat day once a week.
Before adding a cheat day to your diet plan, please note that it may lead to unhealthy eating habits and may negatively affect your weight loss and metabolism (16). To avoid planning for cheat meals or cheat days:
1. Plan your meals in advance. That way you do not try convincing yourself to have a cheat meal because you are too hungry to cook.
2. Practice mindful eating. If you decide to cheat, practice mindfulness to help keep you from over indulging.
3. Remind yourself of your progress. Is satisfying a short-term craving truly worth undoing work that you have been doing for months or even weeks?
4. Allow small treats within your diet. Find a way to incorporate small cheat treats in your diet without going over your calorie intake for the day.
How to stay on a diet when you are busy?
The easiest way to do this is by meal planning. Cooking can be hard to do on a busy diet and ordering food delivery is always the simplest option. However, if you have have cooked and portioned out food and snacks, all you have to do is take them out, reheat them (if need be), and enjoy, all without breaking your diet.
How to stay on diet when you have a big event?
1. Eat before leaving the house. Arriving hungry at an event will have you eating anything and everything that comes your way. Try and have a light meal right before leaving your house/hotel.
2. Avoid temptation. Have your interactions as far away from the buffet table as you can. Being close to all that delicious food will weaken your resolve making you cheat on your diet.
3. Have a chaperone with you. This could be a plus one or a co-worker who will be by your side reminding you not to consume the foods offered and motivating you to stay strong whenever you feel your resolve weakening (1).
The Bottom Line
How to stay on a diet mostly revolves around the strength of resolve and commitment to stay on a healthy eating plan for weight loss or general well-being. With utter commitment to your endgame and the above-mentioned tips and tricks you will end up reaching your goals in no time. Please not to always consult a doctor or dietitian before attempting any diet.
Diets are great, but your body will thank you if you supplement your healthy nutrition plan with a good workout.