The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Eating healthy can help you lose weight and have more energy. It can also improve your mood and reduce your risk of disease. Yet despite all these benefits, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can be difficult.
Here are 14 ways to stick to a healthy diet.
1. Start with Realistic Expectations
Eating a nutritious diet has many benefits, including potential weight loss.
However, it's important to set realistic expectations.
For example, if you pressure yourself to lose weight too quickly, your plan to achieve better health may backfire.
Researchers found that obese people who expected to lose a lot of weight were more likely to drop out of a weight loss program within 6–12 months (1).
On the other hand, setting a more realistic and achievable goal can keep you from getting discouraged and may even lead to greater weight loss.
Bottom Line: Having realistic expectations increases your chances of maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors.
2. Think About What Really Motivates You
Remembering why you're making healthy choices can help you stay on course.
It can be helpful to make a list of the specific reasons why you want to get healthier.
Keep this list handy and refer to it when you feel you need a reminder.
Bottom Line: When you're tempted to indulge in unhealthy behaviors, remembering what motivates you can help you stay on track.
3. Keep Unhealthy Foods out of the House
It's really tough to eat healthy if you're always surrounded by junk foods.
If other family members want to keep these foods around, at least keep them hidden, rather than on counter tops.
The saying “out of sight, out of mind" definitely applies here.
Bottom Line: Keeping unhealthy foods out of the house or at least out of sight, can increase your chances of staying on track.
4. Don't Have an “All or Nothing" Approach
A major roadblock to achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle is “black and white" thinking.
One common scenario is that you have a few unhealthy appetizers at a party and decide that your diet is ruined for the day and proceed to overindulge in unhealthy foods.
Instead of considering the day “ruined," try putting the past behind you and choosing healthy, unprocessed foods that contain protein for the remainder of the party.
This will help you feel full and satisfied, rather than stuffed and frustrated.
A few off-plan choices make very little difference in the long run, as long as you balance them with healthy foods.
Bottom Line: Rejecting the urge to judge your day as “good" or “bad" can prevent you from overeating and making poor choices.
5. Carry Healthy Snacks
Sticking to a healthy diet can be tough when you're away from home for extended periods of time.
Unfortunately, when you get too hungry, you may end up grabbing whatever is available.
This is is often processed food, which doesn't really satisfy hunger and isn't good for you in the long run.
Bottom Line: Take healthy high-protein snacks when you're on the road or travelling in case you're unable to eat a meal for several hours.
6. Change Diet and Exercise at the Same Time
You may have heard you shouldn't change too many things at once when trying to improve your health. In general, this is good advice.
However, research has shown that when you make both dietary and physical activity changes at the same time, the results tend to reinforce each other.
In a study of 200 people, the group that began eating a healthy diet and exercising at the same time found it easier to maintain these behaviors than those who started with either diet or exercise alone and then added the other later (5).
Bottom Line: Simultaneously changing the way you eat and exercise increases your chances of healthy lifestyle success.
7. Have a Game Plan Before Eating Out
Trying to maintain a healthy diet while eating out can be very challenging.
Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier.
It's best to have a strategy in place before you get to the restaurant, rather than being overwhelmed once you get there.
Bottom Line: Having a plan before eating out can help you make healthier food choices.
8. Don't Let Traveling Derail You
Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, being outside of familiar territory can make it difficult to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few tips:
- Research the restaurants and supermarkets ahead of time.
- Pack some healthy foods that don't spoil easily.
- Challenge yourself to stay on track for most of the trip.
Bottom Line: You can stick to a healthy eating plan while traveling. All it takes is a bit of research, planning and commitment.
9. Practice Mindful Eating
Eating mindfully can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Take time to enjoy your food and appreciate its ability to nourish you. This increases your chances of making successful, lasting behavioral changes.
In one study, overweight and obese women who practiced mindful eating had significant improvements in their relationship with food over a 4-month period (6).
Another study on binge eating women found that binge episodes decreased from 4 to 1.5 per week and the severity of each binge also decreased. This happened in only six weeks (7).
Bottom Line: Adopting a mindful eating approach can help you achieve a better relationship with food and may also reduce binge eating.
10. Track and Monitor Your Progress
Measuring your exercise progress is also beneficial and provides you with motivation that can help you keep going.
Researchers reported that overweight women who were given pedometers walked farther and lost six times more weight than women who didn't use them over the course of three months (11).
Bottom Line: Tracking your food intake and exercise can provide motivation and accountability. Studies show that it helps you stick to a healthy diet and leads to greater weight loss.
11. Get a Partner to Join You
Sticking with a healthy eating and exercise plan can be tough to do on your own.
When researchers looked at data from more than 3,000 couples, they found that when one person made a positive lifestyle change, such as increasing physical activity, the other was more likely to follow their lead (13).
Bottom Line: Having a partner join you in making healthy lifestyle changes can increase your chances of success.
12. Start the Day with a High-Protein Breakfast
More details here: How Protein at Breakfast Can Help You Lose Weight
Bottom Line: Eating a high-protein breakfast helps you stay full and can prevent overeating later in the day.
13. Realize It Takes Time to Change Your Habits
Don't be discouraged if it takes longer than you expect to adapt to your new healthy way of living.
Researchers have found that it takes about 66 days, on average, to make a new behavior a habit (16).
Eventually, eating healthfully and exercising regularly will become automatic.
Bottom Line: Do your best to stay motivated and focused while you adapt to a healthy lifestyle. It takes 66 days to make a new habit, on average.
14. Figure Out What Works Best for You
There is no perfect way of eating that works for everyone.
It's important that you find a way of eating and exercising that you enjoy, find sustainable and can stick to for the rest of your life.
The best diet for you is the one you can stick to in the long run.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system
Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
- Is California heading for another drought? - Los Angeles Times ›
- CA wildfire season: Will rain, snow weather forecast end risk? | The ... ›
- California Fires Now Rage All Year as Drought Creates Tinderbox ... ›
- California weather stays dry as rain and snow come up short | The ... ›
- California Emerged From Drought and Is Still Catching Fire - The ... ›
A warm day in winter used to be a rare and uplifting relief.
Now such days are routine reminders of climate change – all the more foreboding when they coincide with news stories about unprecedented wildfires, record-breaking "rain bombs," or the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets.
Where, then, can one turn for hope in these dark months of the year?