“I’ll start Monday.”
How many times have you uttered these words? For some of us, it’s every Friday. We have a healthy week and then we eat whatever we want over the weekend. Sometimes, we eat even more because heck, we can’t have it again in two days time. And then Monday rolls around and we swear off sugar, wine and sweets, we buy a gym membership and start meditating.
We all do it. We’ve said those words a thousand times and even when we have the best intentions, it seems our health kicks never work. Someone who knows this all too well is nutritionist, Zoe Bingley-Pullin.
“I feel it’s fair to say almost everyone at some stage in life has attempted to change his or her eating habits for the better. Food is such a large part of life and making a change to food requires a lot of patience and commitment. Unfortunately, more often than not, an intention to eat better doesn’t last long and eventually, old habits creep back in.”
But according to Zoe, this doesn’t have to be the case. She says the key to changing food habits for good is being aware of why your efforts haven’t worked in the past. Below, she reveals the five most common reasons her client’s health kicks have failed.
1The change was extreme and unsustainable
When the change to your diet is extreme, such as slashing calories/kilojoules or cutting out entire food groups, it’s destined to fail. The body cannot sustain such extreme measures and it will leave you feeling fatigued, irritable and deprived. This can lead to overcompensating for such restriction, creating a vicious cycle. Instead, aim for balance and make small manageable changes that slowly become part of your new healthy routine.
Tip: Don’t try to cut out everything completely or multiple things at once! Deprivation never ends well.
2You set unrealistic expectations
If you change your eating habits to lose a substantial amount of weight and expect such loss to occur rapidly, this is an unrealistic expectation. Healthy and sustainable weight loss takes time. Not seeing results immediately is one of the quickest ways to lose motivation and see people return to old habits. Let go of unrealistic expectations and know this process is a journey and each day you are making progress.
Tip: Measure your progress every week or fortnight, not every day! If you are exercising regularly and eating well, use how it makes you feel as motivation to continue before jumping on the scales.
3You put too much pressure on yourself
If you devised a new healthy eating plan which requires a complete overhaul of your diet and waving goodbye to the foods you love most, it’s likely to fail. When we place too much pressure on ourselves to eat well, food becomes stressful. Such stress can negatively impact food choice, and eating outside the guidelines we have set can leave us feeling as though we have ‘blown it,’ fast tracking us to develop a dieting mentality. We all know by now that diets fail. Ditch diets once and for all and focus on developing a healthy relationship with food instead.
Tip: If you have a ‘bad’ day, don’t throw in the towel. It’s not about cutting things out cold turkey, it’s about changing your mindset with food. Instead of saying, “I can’t eat that,” tell yourself, “I’m choosing not to eat that because…”
4There was no plan in place
For real change to occur, there needs to be some sort of plan in place to define and direct such change. This doesn’t have to mean nutting out exactly what will be eaten and when. A plan can simply be writing down a few food changes to make weekly. If there is no plan, change will not become a new habit and you will return to old eating habits before even truly getting started.
Tip: We all need a helping hand from time to time, why not try one of these programs to keep you on track or sign up to Zoe’s 8-week Falling In Love With Food Program, designed to help people build a happier relationship with food.
5You were doing it for the wrong reasons
If you aim to change your eating habits to lose weight or because you heard about a new diet trend, it’s unlikely to be a success. You need more motivators than weight or being on trend to truly succeed. Think about how changing your diet will improve your health and how much better it will make you feel. Such factors are much better motivators and will help you move past any road blocks you occur along the way. Having a support network in place is another important part in making change for good and enjoying yourself along the way!
Tip: Making a mood board full of inspiration such as healthy recipes and workouts can help you to associate your health kick with positive emotions. Alternatively, just bookmark Sporteluxe!