A healthy diet means making the choice to eat healthily.
It can make weight loss easier and increase your energy.
It can also help improve your mood and reduce your potential for disease.
In spite of all the benefits that come with maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, it can still be very difficult.
“It’s critical that you change your relationship with food. It’s critical that you change the way you think and react to food. It’s critical that you learn the right mindset along with developing the healthy habits and behaviors necessary to lose weight and keep it off. Otherwise, you’ll keep going from one diet to the next. You’ll never be able to stick with anything.” states Adam Gilbert, founder of MyBodyTutor.
The following 12 tips will help you stick to a healthy diet.
Have a Plan When You Travel
It doesn’t matter whether you are traveling for business or pleasure. Being away from home and outside familiar territory can make it difficult to stick to a healthy lifestyle (1). A few ways you can accomplish this easily include the following:
- Research local restaurants and grocery stores before you leave
- Pack some healthy foods to take on your trip that does not require refrigeration
- Create a challenge for yourself that involves remaining on track for the majority of the journey
The Last Word: “If you’re a regular traveler it can be frustratingly hard to maintain a fitness routine when your geographical location is always changing, cramped hotel rooms, business breakfasts and airport food can quickly become the catalyst to not only weight gain but the feeling that time is the enemy—you haven’t got time to exercise when you’re traveling all the time right? The key here is commitment and don’t wait for anyone else to make this happen, step up and be the person who takes action. Whether you travel for business or pleasure, the best way to keep yourself accountable to reaching your health and fitness goals is to have an event to focus on.” states Emma-Jane Fry, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and founder of Emma-Jane Fry.
Always Have a Supply of Healthy Snacks
Remaining on a healthy diet can be difficult when you’re away from home for extended periods of time.
Unfortunately, if you allow yourself to become too hungry, there is a possibility you may just grab whatever is available.
Quite often this turns out to be processed food, products that don’t satisfy hunger and are unhealthy in the long run.(2)
Some examples of healthy snacks to can take with you include jerky, almonds, and peanuts. You might also consider bringing along a small cooler with Greek yogurt, cheese, or hard boiled eggs.
The Last Word: Whenever you are traveling take along high-protein snacks to satisfy your hunger in case you are unable to eat a meal for several hours while you are on the road traveling.
Have a Game Plan Before Going to a Restaurant
It can be a challenge to maintain a healthy diet when eating out.
Fortunately, for those who are interested in the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, there are ways to make it easier.
Having a strategy in place before you go into a restaurant can prevent the risk of being overwhelmed when you arrive.
The Last Word: Making sure you have a plan before eating out can help you make sure to make healthier food choices.
Make Sure Your Expectations Are Realistic
Consuming a nutritious diet provides many benefits that include potential weight loss.(4)
It is important to make sure you set realistic expectations.(5)
For instance, you may restrict your success if you attempt to pressure yourself to lose weight too fast.
“Nutrition can be a really personal thing and what works for a friend may not be the solution for you. Something that has resonated in my life is that it really is about finding a balance that makes your life healthy. Sometimes we “nourish” our bodies with high-quality foods with great nutritional properties. And sometimes we “nourish” our souls via a good meal with friends or baking cookies with a child.” states Jill Whitaker, a RRCA Certified Running Coach and owner of Jill Will Run.
When you set a more realistic goal that is easy to achieve there is less of a chance you will become discouraged. This could even result in more substantial weight loss.(7)
Change Your Diet and Develop an Exercise Plan at the Same Time
You have probably heard it isn’t a good idea to change too many things at once when you are trying to develop a healthier lifestyle. In most cases, this is good advice.
On the other hand, research has shown when you change the way you eat and add an exercise program at the same time, the results often collaborate with each other..(8)
“Form is also important. Having proper form while exercising will not only keep you safe and injury-free, but will also let you get the most gains out of your workout.” states Shannon Michelle owner of Cali Girl Gets Fit.
A study was conducted that involved 200 people. The results showed those who began eating healthy and exercising at the same time had an easier time continuing those behaviors than those who started dieting or exercising alone and added the other behavior at a later date.(9)
The Last Word: When you change the way you eat and add an exercise regiment at the same time you have a better chance of achieving success with your lifestyle changes.
6. Consider Your Motivation
When you think about the reasons you are making healthy choices it can help you stay on track.
Make a list of the reasons for choosing to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Refer to your list at any time you feel you need a reminder.
The Last Word: “If YOU are ready to make a change in your lifestyle, recruit a support network.” states Nutritional Counselor and Personal Trainer, Aynsley Kirshenbaum, M.S.
Start the Day with a High Protein Breakfast
According to one study, overweight women who consumed a minimum of 30 grams of protein during breakfast stayed fuller longer and consumed few calories during lunch than those women who consumed a lower protein breakfast.(16)
The Last Word: When you consume a high-protein breakfast, you stay full in between meals and avoid overeating throughout the day.
Participate with a Partner
It can be tough to stay focused on healthy eating and exercise when you try to do it by yourself.
After looking at data from over 3,000 couples, they discovered when one person made a positive change in his/her lifestyle, there was a high likelihood the other person would follow.(21)
The Last Word: When you have a partner participate with you in making healthy lifestyle changes, it can increase your potential for success.
Be Mindful of What You Eat
When you are mindful of what you eat it is easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle.(22)
Another study that was conducted on binge eating discovered episodes of binge eating decreased from four to 1.5 weekly while the severity of the episodes also decreased. This occurred over a 6-week period.(29,30)
The Last Word: “As a society, we have become so engrained into technology that we are on our technologies all day – including during meal times. I recommend to make sure to eat at a table, away from a work desk, computer, cell phone, and television, to aid in staying mindful. Distractions do not allow us to enjoy our meals and connect with our hunger and fullness cues.” states Gisela Bouvier, MBA, RDN, LDN & Founder B Nutrition and Wellness.
Avoid the Concept of Everything Being Black or White
You could develop this attitude with something such as eating a few unhealthy appetizers at a party and deciding that since your diet is ruined for the day, you may as well overindulge in other unhealthy foods.(34)
Don’t consider the day ruined but instead put the past behind you and choose healthy, unprocessed high-protein foods for the rest of the party.
Making this choice will help you feel full and completely satisfied rather than frustrated and stuffed.
Making a few unhealthy choices will make tiny difference as long as you balance those foods with healthy ones.
“Focusing on the number on the scale has been proven to be detrimental to your weight loss process. Therefore stop focusing on your fat and start working on having the right attitude. The body will follow the mind, not the other way around. It’s all about learning about what your body needs to give you what you want. Get your mind on the right track and the body will follow.”states Leo Frincu, a trainer and former World Champion wrestler.
The Last Word: When you attempt to judge your day as either “good” or “bad” it can cause you to overeat and make unhealthy choices.
Avoid Bringing Unhealthy Foods into Your House
If other household members want to keep junk food around, keep them hidden instead of in plain view on counter tops.
The adage “out of sight, out of mind” is true here.
The Last Word: When you keep unhealthy foods either out of the house or at least out of sight, you improve your chances of remaining on track.
Choose the Plan That Works Best for You
There is no perfect eating plan that works for every single person.
“A list of what I have come to understand is the foundational habits of those who are most successful in achieving and sustaining health and wellbeing over time is: Healthy eating: Aiming for three meals a day plus snacks as required – Moderation: In what you choose to eat and drink day to day – Quality sleep: Enabling you to wake recharged & refreshed – and Staying active: Being consistent in being active and moving throughout your day.” states Jan McLeod, Coach, Mentor, Nutritionist and Speaker from Mad for Health.
You must find a diet plan and exercise regiment you enjoy and can follow for the rest of your life.
The best healthy meal plan for you is the one you can follow for the long haul.
Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.