The dictionary defines a diet as an act of restricting foods to smaller amounts or eating certain kinds of foods in order to lose weight.
The problem with this definition is that it has certain negative connotations. First, it makes you think of dieting as an unpleasant, extreme, and unhappy experience.
It also makes diets appear to be a short-term fix. The majority of people who get on diets often do it for the short-haul. They start off strong, achieve the results they wanted but after one or two years, they abandon the diet and gain back the weight again.
Diets are not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, you have to make some real changes to lose weight. However, these have to be done sustainably.
Once you realize why you can’t stick to a diet long-term, you will be well on your way to achieving lasting results. Here are some possible explanations.
Why You Can’t Stick to A Diet Long-Term
1. You don’t listen to your body’s hunger cues
Most diets subject your body to extreme hunger. When you starve yourself, you feel ravenous and tend to overdo it when you do eat.
Overeating usually causes feelings of guilt. Afterward, you may then go back on the diet, feel extremely hungry and repeat the cycle.
Instead of dwelling on the rules set out by some diet planner somewhere, listen to your own body. It has an in-built mechanism to tell you when to eat and when not to.
If you are shaky, dizzy, and nauseous, you’re probably too hungry. A growling stomach is a less extreme sign. Getting a feeling of emptiness in your stomach could be a safe clue. Eat then.
Conversely, after you eat, you feel full, then satisfied, uncomfortable and finally almost sick. You need to stop at the first sign of fullness.
If you were more sensitive to what your body needs, you wouldn’t have to go through this rollercoaster of getting on and off your diet. However, for these cues to work, you need a normal eating pattern and functional metabolism.
2. Your goals are unrealistic
If a diet promises you quick results like losing 100 pounds in 3 months, it is likely that you will not sustain that weight loss.
Also, diets that promise such audacious results require lots of willpower and disciple that you may not have at the moment.
In this study, it was shown that weight loss expectations have a direct effect on attrition levels of the participants. Those that set unrealistic goals ended up quitting before the 12 months of the intervention were over.
3. The diet demonizes certain foods
No carb diets, low-fat diets, etc. implicitly assume that certain foods are terrible while others are ideal.
Some people have a weak spot for chocolate or potato chips. If you can never indulge in particular foods, you start to feel deprived.
You have to rely on your willpower, which isn’t always dependable. Before you know it, you’ll have fallen off the diet wagon and gone overboard with these forbidden foods.
A plan that allows you to eat foods you enjoy within limits is more sustainable.
4. It isn’t practical
When you get on a diet, you need to ask yourself whether it is possible for you to eat those things for the next 5 years or for the rest of your life.
If you went on the raw food diet ask yourself if you can see yourself eating only raw food throughout. If the answer is no then you will not stick to it.
5. Your attitude towards healthy food is wrong
Most people assume that when they go on a diet, they have to wave goodbye to better-tasting food. This means that they take the fun out of food, which should be a joy-bringing activity.
Healthy food can taste good. You simply have to learn how to make it delicious. You can feel incredibly satisfied with vegetables, legumes, and healthy snacks if you prepare them the right way.
6. The diet involves extreme changes
In behavior psychology, the best results come from incremental changes. If you have to leapfrog from one end of the spectrum to the other, you may not do it for too long.
Instead of going from eating processed foods all the time to not eating processed food at all, consider halving the quantities or type of food you eat.
Then you can make more changes once you implement this. Extreme and sudden alterations often make it impossible to stick to a diet long-term.
7. The all or nothing mentality
Having an all or nothing mentality is unhelpful in achieving true weight loss. If a diet does not include a certain food and you indulge in it, there’s no sense in beating yourself over it.
Some people fall once and choose to stay down. They assume that there’s no point in trying if they didn’t get it totally right.
Perfectionism is the enemy of real progress. Unfortunately, most diets encourage perfectionism.
8. You have zero accountability
Sometimes diets are hard to follow in the long run because there is no support system.
For a married person, asking your partner to help you make positive lifestyle changes is easier than fighting them every time you want to make a different choice.
In this study it was shown that partners helped obese people lose weight 18 months after starting. Promises are harder to break when someone else can hold you to account.
9. You rely only on willpower
The problem with willpower is that it is not reliable. When you are feeling psychologically weak, you are less likely to make the proper decisions. You thus need to create an environment that makes it easy to do the right thing.
If the snacks in your house are mostly fattening, chances are that you’ll not stick to your diet long-term. Change your household or work environment so that it is easy to stay on course.
10. You don’t reflect
During any weight loss journey, it is inevitable for you to waver. But how you respond to those moments is what will determine whether you succeed or not.
If you have overeaten or eaten foods not in your diet, you ought to learn from the moment and develop tactics for dealing with it.
For instance, if you took alcohol or if you were tired before the binge-eating, then develop a different coping mechanism. In this case, plan alternatives for coping with exhaustion or alcohol consumption.
11. The diet didn’t incorporate social situations
The people around you may not share similar weight loss goals. Sometimes, you have to cook foods that are not in the diet for family or friends. Other times, you need to eat out.
In these situations, it helps to have a flexible diet that allows you to track your meals but eat different varieties. The overly prescriptive plans are too rigid and they increase your chances of veering off.
12. You don’t track progress
Most people fail to maintain their diets because they don’t have an accountability system to measure outcomes.
Use apps that are designed for maintaining healthy diets. This study proved that subjects got better results when they measured their input.
The Bottom Line
You have to change your attitude and relationship with food to experience sustainable weight loss.
Diets are not sustainable when they are extreme, impractical and restrictive. Reflect on moments when you ‘fail’ and develop safety measures for future incidences.
Surprisingly, exercise can help you stick to a diet long-term. Regular exercise creates the self-image of a healthy and active person, which leads to healthier food choices.
Therefore, take advantage of exercise by doing these short home workouts that require very little time and willpower.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]