Following a diet is easy at first, but how do you stick to your diet when it becomes boring and you're no longer motivated? Have a plan so that you know what to do when the initial excitement of a new diet wears thin. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy diet:
The first thing you need to do is choose the diet that is easiest for you to follow (check out these diet books). How do you choose the best diet? All diets require you to monitor your consumption of something. You need to count calories, carbs, fats, fiber or something. Which one is the easiest? What types of foods do you like? Some are well-suited for both low-fat and low-carb diets. That is really up to you.
You may also feel physically better following one diet over the others. Feeling healthy will help keep your willpower strong when you are faced with a dietary dilemma. If you really don't know which diet you would like best, you can always give a diet a two-week test drive. This way you can see how you feel and find out how easy the diet is to understand and follow. Remember to choose healthful foods, no matter which diet you choose.
Set realistic goals. Put some thought into why you are going on a diet. Are you trying to lose weight? Do you need to reduce your risk factors for chronic disease? Do you want to look good in a swimsuit? Maybe you had a heart attack and you want to do everything you can to see your grandchildren grow up.
Your goals are important to you, yet to be successful, you need to be realistic about how to set those goals. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to make huge changes over night. If it took you ten years to gain 50 pounds, don't pretend that you can lose 50 pounds in three months. You can, however, lose five to 15 pounds in three months. Think along similar lines for changing from junk foods to nutritious foods. If you eat a big bowl of ice cream and chocolate syrup every night after dinner, it might be tough to give that up completely and forever. Start with replacing that bowl of ice cream with a bowl of fresh berries two or three times per week. Keep your goals reasonable and you can have the fun of reaching them quickly and setting new ones.
Choose the right tools. Very few people can follow a healthy diet without keeping track of the foods they eat. Just like you need to keep track of your bills and the money in your bank account, you need to keep track of the calories, carb grams, fat grams, or fiber grams that you take in each day. In order to keep track of the foods you eat, you need to write them all down in a food diary or join an online service like Calorie Count. Keeping track of your diet will help keep you accountable and motivated.
Find a friend or join a community. Sometimes it seems like everyone else around you is eating what they want and tempting you to go off your diet too. Dieting can be tough when you do it alone. Find someone to go on a diet with you. Having a spouse, family member, co-worker or friend who has similar dietary goals will help keep you both on track. Another option is to join an online community such as the message boards on Calorie Count.
It's good to give yourself a little nudge now and then. Remember those reasons you have for going on a healthy diet? Write those reasons down on a small note card and tuck that card into your purse or wallet. You may not see it every day, but you will find it often enough to remind you about why you are watching your diet. Another option is to find a weight loss quote you like and use it as a screen-saver on your computer.
Make your bad-mood-foods healthier. Sometimes your mood can have a major impact on your diet. Think of comfort food. What do you eat when you're having a bad day? A banana split? Big greasy burger and fries? A pile of fried chicken or a whole pan of brownies? All of these are real diet-breakers because the calories can pile up fast while you're feeding your bad mood. Find some new comfort foods. Make sure they're high in fiber and you'll fill up before you eat too many calories. Did you love PB&Js as a kid? Make a healthier peanut butter and jelly sandwich with whole grain bread. Instead of that banana split, how about banana chunks, strawberries and blueberries with whipped topping and nuts. It's just as sweet, but much better for you. Still want that fried chicken? How about just one piece after you eat a healthy salad.
Be good to yourself. We all slip up now and then. That's OK. If you fall off your diet, don't beat yourself up over it. Tell yourself you'll do a better job with your next meal and when that next meal rolls around, choose something healthy like baked chicken or fish with lots of green vegetables. Congratulate yourself for eating a healthy meal again and know that you will do it again at the next meal.
Physical activity will help you watch your weight, give you strong muscles and keep your heart healthy. Aerobic and resistive exercises will also boost your mood, decrease your appetite, and help keep you motivated to eat right.