Lose weight sustainably: seven simple tips for sticking with a diet

A defined body, less susceptibility to diseases, more life energy, better mood: A healthy diet has many positive aspects.

Actually there is only one negative aspect: it can be so damn hard to stay consistent.

Here are seven tips that can help you keep good nutritional resolutions.

1. Set realistic goals

Realistic expectations increase the chances of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

If you put too much pressure on yourself to lose weight fast, it can even backfire.

Researchers found in a study that overweight people who expected to lose a lot of weight in a short period of time are more likely to drop out of their weight loss program within six to 12 months.

Setting realistic and achievable goals can keep you from becoming discouraged.

The SMART formula can help set the right goals.

2. What is the motivation?

Why would you even want to incorporate a healthy diet into your lifestyle? What reasons and ideas motivated you to do this project?

It can be helpful to make a list of all of these reasons. The motivation “I want to fit back into my old jeans” probably only drives you in the short term. Goals like “I want to lose weight so I feel better, healthier and stronger” are better.

Whenever you’re tempted to slip back into unhealthy behavior, it’s a quick reminder of why you started the diet change. This makes it easier for you to stay on the right track.

3. Make home a “sin free” zone

It’s difficult to eat healthy when you’re surrounded by junk food. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” applies here completely.

Keeping the fridge stocked with fresh groceries and unhealthy foods banned from the home — or at least kept out of sight — increases the odds of staying on track.

4. No to the “all or nothing” principle

Black and white thinking can be a real obstacle to a healthy lifestyle.

The typical scenario: Sin at a party with a few unhealthy little things and then decide that the diet for the day is ruined anyway.

A nice excuse to then eat away the entire bowl of chips.

It’s better to shake off the past quickly and make healthier choices for the rest of the evening, such as unprocessed foods high in protein. Because they keep you full longer.

A few supposed “sins” don’t affect long-term success as long as you keep making up for them with healthy foods. It helps not to label the day as either all good or all bad.

Instead, you should reflect in the evening on what you are proud of that day – and what you can still improve in the coming weeks.

5. Have healthy snacks on hand

Sticking to a diet can be especially difficult when you’re away from home for several hours. When you get hungry, you quickly tend to just grab something somewhere quickly – and you’re satisfied with almost anything that’s available at the moment.

However, these are often processed foods that cannot really satisfy hunger and are also unhealthy. Keeping a few healthy, high-protein snacks on hand can help you keep your appetite in check until your next full meal.

Nuts, for example, are a practical snack for on the go. If possible, also offer hard-boiled eggs, cheese or Greek yoghurt in a small cooler.

Image gallery: 20 healthy snacks to lose weight

6. Tackle fitness and diet changes together

Research shows that when you make changes to your diet and exercise habits at the same time, the results reinforce each other.

In a study of 200 people, those who ate healthily and exercised at the same time said they found it easier to maintain these behaviors than those who started either dieting or vigorous exercise first and then both components for a healthy lifestyle.

7. Monitor progress closely

Logging meals in a diary, online food tracker, or diet app will help you stick to your nutritional plans.

Keeping reminders of what you’ve eaten makes it harder to keep breaking your resolutions.

At the same time, measuring your own training progress can also motivate you to keep going. In a three-month study, overweight women who got pedometers walked more overall and lost six times more weight than those who didn’t use them.

But you shouldn’t base your weight loss success on the number on the scale. Worrying about your weight every night is frustrating. It’s much nicer when you wake up one day and realize that your pants are suddenly too big and you’re more energetic and fitter. This feeling is priceless!

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Dalle Grave R et al. (2005): Weight loss expectations in obese patients and treatment attrition: an observational multicenter study, retrieved on May 10, 2022: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16339128/

King A et al. (2013): Behavioral impacts of sequentially versus simultaneously delivered dietary plus physical activity interventions: the CALM trial, retrieved on May 10, 2022: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23609341/

Cayir Y et al. (2015): The effect of pedometer use on physical activity and body weight in obese women, retrieved on May 10, 2022: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25068676/

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