Wondering how to stay committed to a healthy diet? Try these 10 dietitian tips to be more consistent with food and find a healthy balance long-term.
1. Start with small diet changes
It’s common to feel excited with your new healthy lifestyle and want to totally overhaul your diet. But when you change too much, too fast, you’re more likely to burn out and give up on your healthy habits altogether.
Tip: Set small goals each week to improve your diet over time. For example, try swapping your white toast at breakfast for whole grain, or adding a serving of vegetables to dinner.
2. Eat balanced meals that keep you full
It’s tempting to skip carbs or micro-manage portions when the goal is weight loss. But it’s important to eat enough food (and enough of the right foods) to stay fuller for longer and feel in control of your choices.
Tip: Include protein, carbohydrates and fats at most of your meals. If you can add extra fiber with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, that’s even better!
3. Eat consistently throughout the day
Skipping meals and snacks feels like an easy way to cut calories. But it’s more likely to leave you feeling extra hangry and out of control with food.
Tip: Stop skipping meals and snacks. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours and experiment with an eating schedule that works with your schedule.
4. Stop doing cheat days
Finding a healthy balance is a beautiful thing–but cheat days aren’t the way to achieve that. Cheat days keep you stuck in the all-or-nothing diet mentality, promote overeating, and won’t leave you feeling your best.
Tip: Aim to find balance with fun foods every day. Include a small serving of chips, chocolate, or your favorite snack food alongside other meals and snacks throughout your week.
5. Establish a solid sleep routine
Your food choices are impacted by a lot more than willpower. Poor sleep can increase your hunger and make you more likely to reach for energy-dense snack foods like cookies and chips.
Tip: Create a consistent sleep routine and aim to get 7-9 hours per night. When you sleep less than you want to, take note of how it impacts your eating the next day.
6. Prioritize food satisfaction
We all want to eat food that tastes good. So if you’re choking back dry salads and bland chicken breast in the name of weight loss, it will only be so long until your cravings take over.
Tip: Add satisfaction to your healthy eating plan by including foods you enjoy regularly. Make nutritious foods more palatable by adding sauces, dips, herbs and a variety of textures.
7. Don’t overlook stress management
Stress can throw your signals of hunger and fullness out of whack and make consistent eating more challenging. You might also find yourself eating to cope with stress and other tough emotions, which can make it difficult to be consistent with food.
Tip: Make stress management a priority in your day-to-day life. Explore emotional coping tools like therapy, social support, relaxing baths and mental health walks.
8. Overcome the all-or-nothing mentality
It’s too easy to get stuck in the cycle of being really ‘good’ and then really ‘bad’ with food. A healthy sustainable diet is about finding balance in between those two extremes.
Tip: When you eat something indulgent (or maybe more than you wanted to), don’t give up! Pause, reflect, and move on. Consider adding fun foods into your weekly meal plan too.
9. Meal plan for success
Meal planning means you know what foods to buy and how to use them. And this makes sticking to your healthy diet a heck of a lot easier throughout the busy week.
Tip: Make a plan of 2-3 meals and snacks to make this week, and keep it visible in your kitchen. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with what to make, refer to this list.
10. Stop focusing on cutting foods out
A diet that eliminates all your favorite foods won’t be appealing for long. A truly sustainable plan will find ways to include the foods you love in a balanced eating pattern.
Tip: Write down 5 of your go-to meals and ask yourself–what can I add to make this more filling and nutritious? Find ways to add protein, carbohydrates, fat or color for extra balance.
11. Ditch the scale
The scale is just a tool. It can be helpful for some and super harmful for others–and if you find it affecting your relationship with food or eating habits, it might be time to retire it.
Tip: Find ways to monitor your progress aside from weight. Journal on your relationship with food, energy levels, digestion and workout performance.
The Bottom Line
Being consistent with food isn’t about being perfect. And if you’ve struggled to stay consistent with diets in the past, it’s likely because they were too rigid and unsustainable.
If you want to learn a more balanced approach you’ll want to stick with forever, start with this free guide.