How to Stick to A Healthy Diet: Evidence-Based Methods

So many people do not know how to stick to a healthy diet, and that’s why many never achieve their dieting goals. A healthy diet helps you to lose weight faster and also have more energy.

A healthy diet can also boost your mood and minimize your risk of a chronic disease.

Despite the fact that a healthy diet has so many health benefits, many people find it challenging to stick to one. This article will teach you how to stick to a healthy diet.

Stick to a healthy diet
Photo Credit: Hawraar

SET REALISTIC GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS

One of the many health benefits of a nutritious diet is weight loss. If you want to lose weight faster or achieve other health benefits, then you must know how to stick to a healthy diet.

However, the first thing that you must have in mind is that you should set realistic goals and expectations for yourself.

Let us take weight loss for instance. If you put too much pressure on yourself to lose weight, or you want to lose it too quickly, then your plan may backfire.

Studies have shown that obese patients who were in a haste to lose weight had a greater tendency to lose focus on a weight loss program within a year (1).

It is important to set achievable and realistic goals. Doing so will give no room for discouragement and may even enhance significant weight loss.

CALL TO MIND THE THINGS THAT MOTIVATES YOU

Always remind yourself of why you are making these healthy choices. They will help you remain on course.

You want to know how to stick to a healthy diet? Then write down why you want to get healthy. Keep this at a place that you can see at all times. It will help you on your journey to wellness.

DO NOT KEEP JUNK OR UNHEALTHY FOODS IN YOUR HOUSE

Eating healthy becomes very difficult when you have junk foods all over your pantry.

If your family members or friends want it around, do well to hide them rather than placing them on the countertops.

There’s a popular saying that “out of sight is out of mind.” This saying will be quite helpful here.

Display of unhealthy foods is linked to increased intake of these foods and of course, obesity (2, 3).

NEVER ADOPT AN ALL OR NOTHING APPROACH

One major barrier to achieving a healthy lifestyle is the black-and-white thinking.

Let us use this scenario. You are invited to a party, and the waitress serves you some few junk appetizers. There and then, you assume that you’ve ruined your diet for the day, and then you spend the rest of the day eating junk or unhealthy food. This is not a good way to stick to a healthy diet.

Here’s how to stick to a healthy diet. Rather than assuming that you have had a ruined day, why not shove the past behind you and eat some healthy, natural foods that are rich in protein for the remainder of the day.

With this, you will be filled and satisfied, instead of feeling frustrated.

Occasional intakes of junk does little or no difference, and you can always balance the whole setting with healthy foods.

KEEP SOME HEALTHY SNACKS HANDY

It could be difficult sticking to a healthy diet when you are away from home for a long period of time.

When you get too famished, you may yield to the temptation of grabbing whatever you find.

Most often, these foods are often processed and doesn’t fill you up the way real food would. Also, it isn’t good for your health in the long run.

To check your appetite, you can eat some healthy snacks with a high protein content. This will keep you satisfied until you are able to prepare yourself a full, healthy meal (4).

Good examples of healthy snacks include almonds, jerky, and peanuts. You may also get a small cooler and fill it with cheese, hard-boiled eggs, or Greek yogurt.

EXERCISE AND CHANGE YOUR DIET SIMULTANEOUSLY

Most nutritionists advise that you should not change too many things simultaneously when you are working on your health. Generally, this isn’t a bad advice.

However, studies show that making changes to diet and exercise regimen simultaneously, will boost the results.

In a research involving 200 subjects, the group that ate healthily and exercised at the same time were able to maintain these behaviors compared to those who began with either exercise or diet alone, then continued with the other later (5). This is how to stick to a healthy diet.

BEFORE EATING OUT, MAKE SURE YOU CREATE A GAME PLAN

People who eat out frequently usually find it challenging to maintain a healthy diet.

However, you can always make things easier. For instance, you may study the menu before ordering for anything, or better still, drink some water before and during the meal.

You want to know how to stick to a healthy diet? Make sure you create a strategy before heading to the restaurant. This will stop you from being overwhelmed once you arrive there.

PLAN WELL BEFORE EMBARKING ON A TRIP

Whether you are embarking on a leisure or business trip, staying in an environment that you are not familiar with can make it challenging to stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Here are some tips that you may follow:

  • Do research on supermarkets and restaurants ahead of time.
  • Before embarking on your trip, carefully pack some healthy foods that do not spoil easily.
  • Give yourself the challenge to remain on track throughout the trip.

MINDFUL EATING WILL GO A LONG WAY

Engaging in mindful eating can help you live a healthy lifestyle.

Do not rush through your meal. Take the time to enjoy it and appreciate its nourishing potentials. Doing so will raise your chances of making successful, and lasting behavioral changes.

A four-month study involving obese and overweight women showed that those who engaged in mindful eating were able to stick to a healthy diet and also improve their relationship with food (6).

Also, a 6-week study involving females with binge eating disorder showed a decrease in binge episodes from 4 to 1.4 each per week when they engaged in mindful eating. Also, there was a drastic decrease in the severity of each binge (7).

MONITOR AND TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

Another tip on how to stick to a healthy diet is by keeping record of your progress.

You may begin by logging the foods on your meal plan into an online food tracker, an app, or a diary. Doing so will assist you to stick to a healthy diet and also enhance weight loss (8, 9, 10).

You should also keep track of your exercise progress. This will give you that motivation that you so desperately need to keep going.

A 3-month study involving overweight women showed that they walked farther and lost more weight (when given pedometers) compared to those who did not use the pedometers (11).

HAVING A PARTNER WOULDN’T BE A BAD IDEA

Creating and following an exercise or eating plan all on your own can be very challenging.

One way to overcome this is by having a partner – one who shares the same goals. This is more fun if that person is our spouse or your partner (12, 13).

Studies involving 3,000 couples showed that if one partner made a life-changing decision, such as dieting or increasing physical activity, the other would follow in no time (13).

START YOUR DAY WITH A HIGH-PROTEIN BREAKFAST

If you have a well-balanced protein (which is rich in protein of course), your blood sugar level will remain stable and you will save yourself the horror of overeating for the rest of the day (14, 15).

A particular study involving overweight women showed that the group that took in at least 30 grams of protein during breakfast were filled and did not eat much calories at lunch compared to those who ate a breakfast with very low protein content (15).

ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT HABITS DON’T CHANGE EASILY. IT TAKES TIME.

Never feel discouraged if it takes longer to adapt to your new, healthy style.

Studies have shown that it takes roughly 60-66 days to get used to a new habit or behavior (16).

With time, healthy eating and regular exercise will become a habit.

FIND OUT WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU AND STICK TO IT

What works for another person may not work for you too.

The best thing to do is to find out an enjoyable way of eating and exercising, one that you can sustain and stick to for life.

THE SUMMARY

Doing away with bad habits and improving on your diet is no easy task.

However, you can adopt some strategies and tips that will help you stick to a healthy diet and while enhancing weight loss.

These strategies include doing away with unhealthy snacks, mindful eating, traveling or going to work with healthy snacks, and setting realistic goals. Another important key is finding out what works for you and sticking to that.

If you intend losing weight, then the above tips will give you an edge.

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