Starting a diet will test your self-control against the horde of temptations available in our modern world. Do you struggle fighting powerful hunger urges? Do you obsessively watch the clock, waiting for your next meal? Following these tips below will help you keep your diet on track and set you up for a future of healthy living.
1. Keep the Fridge Stocked
So, you’ve started your new diet and things have been going well. After finding some healthy recipes that are perfect for you, you’ve developed a dietary routine that satisfies your hunger. But on the way home from work, you realize you forgot that you were out of onions, which are the key ingredient for your healthy dinner. Now you have the choice of waiting in line at the grocery store after a long day at work or rolling through a fast food drive-thru.
It’s hard to fight your hunger in the moment. Especially when one option seems so much more convenient than the other. Ensuring you have all the necessary ingredients for your healthy meals stocked at your house is one of the best ways to avoid this after-work dilemma. Try to buy a bit more than you need for the week. Giving yourself wiggle room will help on the occasional weeks where you can’t make it to the store.
2. Find Something to Occupy Your Free Time
Too much free time leads to boredom. Boredom leads to hunger. And hunger leads to your dieting app flashing red calorie numbers at you.
You need to find something to focus your attention. Now, you might be considering turning on Netflix and bingeing your favorite show, but watching TV isn’t the most active hobby, and you might find hunger creeping up on you. Find something more engaging!
Read a page-turner or work on a creative project you’ve been putting off. Go on a walk around the neighborhood or break out a puzzle! If you can find something to pour your time into, you can avoid the seemingly instinctual human need to snack when bored.
3. Maintain a Regular Eating Schedule
Have you ever wondered why some people are never hungry for breakfast, while others wake up starving?
It’s because your body regulates when it wants you to get hungry. If you eat breakfast every morning at eight, your body will become used to this routine and will release ghrelin–a chemical that causes you to feel hungry–at that time every day. This becomes an issue if you have certain meals in the day you are trying to cut out, such as an afternoon snack or a late-night treat.
Lucky for you, you can turn this to your advantage. With only a few days of controlling when you eat, you can train your body to become hungry at times of your choosing. This is hard, but if you–hypothetically–only ate at 8 a.m., 12 p.m., and 7 p.m. for a couple of days, without snacking between meals, your body will adjust itself to only become hungry at those times.
And it doesn’t have to be three meals. You could train yourself to only become hungry twice a day, or five times a day even. This method fits any diet. The key is simply consistency.
4. Avoid Eating Out for the First Week
This might be the hardest tip to stick to, especially if you’re in the habit of living it up on the weekends. But it might also be the most important.
Dieting is about self-control, and building up that self-control takes time. During your first week, your body is missing the high-calorie foods you’ve come to love. Keep bad food out of sight. If your friends invite you to Olive Garden on your third day of dieting, don’t lie to yourself and say you can order something under 600 calories. Because then you’ll sit down and the waiter will bring out free breadsticks and butter, only a few inches from your salad. And when your friends order wine or dessert, you won’t want to be the one person missing out.
So, protect your developing self-control and avoid sitting at tables with baskets of tempting, unhealthy food.
5. Don’t Sacrifice Sleep
Everyone under-sleeps at some point. You’re watching Netflix before bed, and your show leaves you with a cliffhanger that makes it impossible to go to sleep after. So, you watch the next episode. And the next. Then you wake up the next morning with only four hours of sleep and your body is frantically searching for energy. Unfortunately, your bodies favorite form of quick energy is carbs–especially sugar. And then you remember there’s that donut store right on the way to work.
Avoid this trap. Try to keep your nightly sleep north of six hours. If you do falter–as we all have–and miss out on sleep, have a backup plan. If you drink caffeine, try to have more than normal, as it helps reduce the urge for food. If you have to eat, find something high in protein to fill you up–like eggs or chicken.
Keep these in mind as you start your diet. Dieting is one of the hardest things to do, as you are essentially fighting your own primal instincts, but once you’ve built up your discipline, you’ll be a dieting pro. Soon, you’ll be looking at a much healthier you in the mirror.