After a year of dieting, around 94% of people either maintain their weight or gain at least five pounds, and only 6% continue to lose weight. These are dire statistics at a time in which obesity is fast becoming a worldwide concern. There are many reasons why so many people quit, and most are avoidable.
If you are aiming to shed a few pounds, or you simply wish to create a positive relationship with food, and you want to stay on track, the following strategies can help you achieve your goal.
Setting Clear and Realistic Goals
When aiming to improve your nutritional intake or lose weight, setting attainable, realistic goals is vital. Psychologists recommend using a SMART goal checklist. SMART is an acronym for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. For example, you may decide that you want to lose five pounds in two weeks.
By setting this realistic goal and choosing a deadline, you can stay motivated and continue to set further goals. Your goal may simply involve eating more fruits and vegetables. If so, determine exactly how much more you wish to consume each day, shop for your chosen items, and make sure your chosen items are affordable. Stick to your schedule, so you don’t end up buying items that end up in the trash.
Food nutrition guides are vital when it comes to healthy eating, since they categorize foods into groups and make it easier to follow a balanced diet. They are particularly vital to have around if you have special dietary needs. For instance, people with diabetes may not be able to consume sugary products, and may therefore have to find suitable alternatives. Being knowledgeable about the nutritional content of different foods enables you feel more empowered about the choices you make. Whether you wish to exercise portion control or calculate your total calories or carbohydrates, making reasoned, fact-based decisions puts you in control of food rather than the other way around.
Seeking Professional Help
If you are finding it hard to stick to your nutritional goals, or you have an eating disorder (or have had one in the past), consider therapy. Professional therapists can help keep you on track through therapies such as CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy), and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, behavior and emotions impact each other.
In other words, emotions like stress, anger, and frustration can lead to you to adopt dietary behaviors that can stand in the way of your dietary goals (for instance, stress eating or snacking late at night). CBT helps you spot troublesome thoughts and provides you with techniques to redirect negative thoughts into healthy habits such as exercise, meditation, and relaxation. DBT, meanwhile, helps you accept yourself, creating a positive and safe environment that helps you regulate potentially harmful behaviors such as bingeing.
Practicing Self Compassion
A 2018 study by Madelaine Ferrari revealed that self-compassion is the antidote to perfectionism. It can therefore be a powerful ally when it comes to building a healthy relationship with food. When you are self-compassionate, you acknowledge that making mistakes is only human.
Therefore, if you give into temptation and eat something you know is unhealthy, you can easily bounce back and take measures to get back to healthy eating quickly, instead of indulging in self-blame and judgment. When you feel like you’re being down on yourself, you can also try saying powerful affirmations to yourself. These can include, “I am healthy,” “I take care of my body,” and “Food fuels me to be stronger, smarter, and calmer.”
Reframing the way you think can help you stay on the path to healthy eating. Embrace SMART goals and educate yourself on food nutrition, customizing your diet to fit your unique needs. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help, especially if you are battling an eating disorder. Finally, remember to practice self compassion, and harness the power of daily affirmations to establish a positive state of mind.