In order to have a successful diet, you need to plan ahead! When I say “plan ahead,” I don’t mean for the rest of your life, but at least for first few weeks. Yes, starting a new diet can be challenging until it becomes part of your normal routine.
Some people start a diet because they want to lose weight, and others want to improve their health. Some just want to stop eating junk food and have more energy. You can be motivated by many different goals, and when you finally decide to change your eating habits for the better, you hope the effects will last forever (or at least for most of your life). That’s why it’s so important to make a healthy eating plan that will be “doable” with realistic expectations.
Going on a diet requires preparation, advance planning and extra time to ensure you can stick to your diet wherever you are. Before you start your diet, here are 10 tips that could help you “do it right” this time and make it last.
10 tips before you start your diet:
Chose the right diet plan for you: Before you start, make sure you chose the right diet for you. Don’t fall for “fashionable or trendy” diets. You need to understand what your goals are and if the eating plan that you want to follow will work for you in the long run. For instance, if you are not a fan of meat, the Paleo diet is not for you. If you like to chew your food, then replacing your meals with smoothies or shakes is not going to be sustainable. Find the diet that will give you the best eating habits but which also suits your lifestyle and nutritional preference.
Make a shopping list: If you want to eat healthily, you need to make sure you have healthy foods on hand. That means you need to make a weekly shopping list and buy all the foods and ingredients which you are planning to eat/cook for the week. Make a list of healthy snacks that you like -- fresh fruits and vegetables are perfect.
Plan your meals for the day: “Spontaneous eating” does not work when you are trying to create good eating habits. Plan what you are going to eat each day of the week, at least at the beginning of the process, and find a way to make it happen. For example, in the evening, write down all the meals you are planning to eat the next day. Then, prepare what you will need for tomorrow.
Have a healthy snack with you at all times: Choosing healthy snacks can be a challenge. If you feel hungry and don’t have anything healthy to choose from, you will resort to foods that are not good for you – foods with high amounts of fat and calories as well as other unwanted ingredients. You need to have a healthy snack with you at all times. It can be in your bag/car/work desk and more. Choose things that don’t need refrigeration and can last a few days if you don’t eat them. Examples: An apple, dried fruit, a granola bar up to 100 calories, small packages of nuts or pretzels and more.
Make time for exercise in your weekly schedule: Being more active is one of the changes you need to incorporate into your lifestyle. It will help you lose extra weight and will also improve your overall health which is very important, too. You don’t need to sign up for a race or boot-camp. You just need to find the time in your schedule to exercise 30-40 minutes 3 to 4 times a week. If you don’t “schedule” it in advance, it probably won’t happen!
Be prepared to feel less full: If you want to lose weight you need to have better “portion control.” This means that you need to eat smaller portions of food. In time, your stomach size will shrink, but at the beginning of a new diet, you should be prepared to finish the meal without the same feeling of satisfaction. You will not feel as full as before, but that is not a bad thing. To help you adjust, you can drink more water or add more vegetables to your meal. Yes, it is something that you can deal with if you anticipate the feeling. It should only take 1 to 2 weeks until your body gets used to the new smaller size of your meals.
Drink less soda and alcohol, but more water: Drinking plenty of water is crucial for health and weight loss. Avoid or reduce soda and alcoholic drinks, and increase your water consumption to 50-70 oz. of water each day! Drink water throughout the day -- don’t drink it all at once!
Enjoy social events without the need to eat: One of the biggest problems people identify as a major diet challenge is going to a social event where there will be lots of food and drinks available. We live in a society where almost every social event includes food and drink, but that does not mean you have to partake! Learn to be part of a social event without the need to hold food or drinks. Focus on people and conversation, not on the refreshments!
Don’t underestimate a good night’s sleep: Sleep is very important for your metabolism, for promoting fat burning the next day and for your ability to control your food intake. After a night with insufficient or poor quality sleep, you will tend to feel tired and in need of more energy. You will likely reach for more food to get this extra energy -- high carb and sugary foods. You can have great willpower when you are tired, but it is more difficult to watch what you eat. When you are well-rested, you can make smarter choices about food and eating habits. So, don’t stay up late! Have a good night’s sleep for a successful diet!
Check your calendar: To create new habits, you need to stick with them for at least 21 days. It is very important to make sure you don’t have a “challenging” event in the first 2-3 weeks of the new diet. So, if you have a vacation coming up or travel abroad (pleasure/business) or even your “finals” coming up, it may not be a good time to begin a new eating plan. You need to choose a good time to start your new diet to help ensure success. If you do choose to start your new eating plan with a “challenging” event in the first 3 weeks, just be prepared for those challenges.