You put every ounce of effort into working towards your weight loss by constructing a diet that you follow religiously. You tick all the right boxes, eat what you’ve intended to, and really, really try to dial everything in. But for some reason, it doesn’t work. After maybe only days, or maybe after weeks, you break from it, and your diet goes out the window.
In fact, you find that you just can’t stick to it. But why?
Being able to adhere to our diet is what will guarantee whether we see the weight loss results we want, and there are ways and means for us to improve the likelihood of successfully accomplishing that.
To save you time, and to eliminate the guesswork, here are my top eight tips for improving your diet adherence…
1. Make small changes
Consider what is easier to do, making one or two changes all at once or making nine or ten? It’s easy to begin feeling overwhelmed by the amount of “new” things we have to direct our energy towards when making changes in our diet, and all too often will give up when we realize we can’t sustain it.
We have a much greater hope of succeeding at sticking with those changes by not demanding too much from ourselves at once, aiming to implement small (but important) changes at any one time.
2. Build a support network
Surrounding yourself with others who support our goals and encourage positive behaviours can have a huge impact on motivating us to stay consistent with our efforts.
Similarly, spending time with others who don’t offer that support can very easily lead to frequently making poor dietary choices or overindulging when we likely wouldn’t have done otherwise – peer pressure is a powerful influence!
Spending more time with those who encourage our efforts, socializing with other gym members, or joining online fitness/coaching and communities can all be great ways of building up that positive support network.
3. Be flexible
Setting strict boundaries and rigid structures might help net us some rapid results, but the hopes of sustaining this method are typically slim, so it’s rare we see long-term results from it (or keep the results we do manage to achieve.)
It’s important for us to be able to have some degree of flexibility in our diets, as it pulls us out of the restriction-to-binge cycles which often happen when we begin cutting our favourite foods out of our diets.
By being able to still include these foods on a moderated basis, we are much less likely to overeat on them once we find we can no longer resist our cravings for those foods. Moderation is key!
4. Increase your accountability
It’s much easier to find ourselves breaking from our usual diet if there’s no real “need” or demand for us to stick to it (who’s gonna know if you just sack the whole thing in for a couple days, right?)
That’s where accountability comes in. Having ways and means of ensuring that we are following through with what we intend to do can be the difference between adhering to our diet and not.
Announcing our intentions to our support network or PT sets expectations for us to live up to. If we have others holding us accountable for our actions, we’re much more likely to follow through with those intentions.
5. Remove temptation (sort of…)
Having a food environment where “treat” or higher calorie foods are more easily accessible will make us more prone to eating and snacking on those foods (even mindlessly.)
By altering that environment, we reduce the likelihood of that happening. Even if not completely removing those foods from the house (we can still allow ourselves to eat them in moderation, remember?) by making them less accessible, or by having better food choices more readily available, our inclination to overeat on these foods can be reduced.
6. Stick to what you enjoy
It almost sounds too obvious, but attempting to stick to a diet based on foods we don’t particularly enjoy eating will never last.
They could be the healthiest foods on the planet, but if we can’t stand the taste of them, we’ll find ourselves beginning to deviate more and more from our diet.
Instead, we should aim to focus on building our diet around foods which we enjoy, and yes, that even means leaving room for some of the “bad” stuff in there too.
7. Avoid extremes
Throwing ourselves straight into a very low calorie intake coupled with a high training volume will only ever be sustainable in the short term – after a few weeks, despite best intentions, intense hunger and fatigue will lead to us breaking from our diet.
Instead, creating a small calorie deficit by only eating 10-15% below our maintenance needs will allow us to maintain a reasonable calorie intake, with a more modest, but more consistent, rate of weight loss.
8. Accept the slip-ups
Realistically, no-one can adhere to their diet, 100% of the time.
Everyone has slip-ups, overindulgences and heavy weekends – it’s all just part of life, and nobody is perfect! How we deal with that though can determine how likely it is to set us up for it happening again.
Responding too drastically and attempting to become super strict as a means of undoing any damage will only last so long before the demand is too much, driving us to once again break from our diet. This often becomes a vicious cycle. Instead, our best option is typically to just acknowledge our slip-up, accept it, and move on.
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