#1 Do the “why” exercise
First things first, you have to know why you’re doing it. The best food, diet plan, and personal nutritionist won’t be enough if you aren’t clear about your motivation. Try this simple exercise. Ask yourself why three to five times in a row. It might go something like this.
Why do I want to continue eating well? I want to get to my optimal weight. Why is that important? It will allow me to be more active. Why do I want to be more active? When I’m active I look better and I’m healthier. Why do I want to look better and be healthier? I want to feel confident in my body and enjoy a high quality of life for as long as I can.
We will all have a different set of answers but it’s important to bring them to the surface. Put your final answer on your fridge or your laptop background to see them every day.
#2 Involve your friends and family
It always helps to have a buddy when you’re setting out to do something challenging. Tell your closest people about your diet and ask them for support. They will be more understanding about your new choices. And if you’re lucky they might even join you. Research shows that your chances of succeeding with a positive behaviour change are much higher if you do it with someone. Authors of a 2015 study looking at over 3700 couples that live together concluded the following:
“Men and women are more likely to make a positive health behaviour change if their partner does too.” (1)
#3 Avoid intense hunger
There’s one special time when healthy choices feel extra hard. You guessed it, it’s when you’re hungry! Your instincts are telling you to eat something calorie dense, and a lot of it. That’s a recipe for overeating, not for staying consistent with a healthy diet.
This shouldn’t be a common problem on a well formulated diet. But if you feel like hunger is an issue for you then a different breakfast might help. Research shows that starting the day with a high protein breakfast can increase your satiety throughout the day. A 2015 trial studying overweight women showed that those who had at least 30 g of protein at breakfast ate less at lunch compared to those who ate a low protein breakfast (2). Check out our protein rich breakfast recipes or our blog post on how to stop feeling hungry if you need a bit of inspiration.
#4 Reduce temptation at home
You know how when you pass a pastry shop you instantly start craving donuts? The same thing happens at home. Visual cues like that are a very common reason why people give in to temptation. You can’t change the outside but you can certainly improve your home. Research shows that having food on display around the house correlates with obesity and increased consumption of unhealthy foods (3).
First, you have to get rid of all the food that is tempting you to overeat. And second, replace it with the right food. That will create new visual cues that will make you think of healthy eating instead. Check out your favourite low carb recipes and stock up your pantry and fridge full of the ingredients needed.
#5 Learn to get back on track
You will experience setbacks even if you do everything right. There will always be new obstacles that catch you off guard. That’s why the most important skill you need to succeed long term is to be able to get back on track.
No single mistake you make is a big deal. The only dangerous thing about it is that it can derail you or even make you quit. That’s what you have to avoid. Show yourself understanding and compassion if you slip up. Don’t dwell on the mistake and remember - you are always just one meal away from being back on track!
1) Sarah E Jackson et al., The influence of partner's behavior on health behavior change: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, JAMA Intern Med. 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25599511/
2) Tia M Rains et al., A randomized, controlled, crossover trial to assess the acute appetitive and metabolic effects of sausage and egg-based convenience breakfast meals in overweight premenopausal women, Nutr J. 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25889354/
3) C F Emery et al., Home environment and psychosocial predictors of obesity status among community-residing men and women, Int J Obes (Lond). 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25916909/