It seems like most people are on a diet. Maybe it’s a lifestyle change, or maybe it’s a strict, low calorie attempt to shed a few extra pounds, but chances are that almost everyone out there is on some type of diet these days. Research finds that people shouldn’t be too harsh with their diets, though because they might just be dooming themselves to failure.
According to Greg Hottinger, MPH, RD, and co-author of the weight and health book Coach Yourself Thin, “People who are trying to be perfect end up crashing and burning.” He also points out that when people don’t see results fast enough, they might just give up altogether, and that means no weight loss results at all.
There are a few ways that everyone can cheat on their diets, and do it reasonably from the beginning, so life isn’t about deprivation; it’s about finding a healthy balance.
It’s about the little things
When dieters are trying to lose weight, it can be almost an obsession. That daily weigh in can seem like the important validation for all the hard work and effort, but it can also be what derails many people. Many experts agree that it’s a good idea to weigh only once a week. Weight often fluctuates, so by choosing to step on the scale only once a week around the same time of day, dieters are likely to get the truest measurement of the progress they undoubtedly are making.
Choosing foods that are genuinely enjoyable will help dieters to make the progress they want to. It’s usually most effective to cut out much of the processed and added sugars, but if it’s a matter of enjoying a little bit of that favorite treat or skipping out on the diet all together, it’s best to enjoy the treat and get back on track.
Don’t “diet” all the time
Even dieters should give themselves a break once in a while. Many experts recommend that dieters choose to use an 80/20 approach to dieting. It makes sense actually; eat healthy for most of the time, but take a break once in a while to indulge a little bit. This approach can help dieters to keep their sanity, and will help them to maintain their weight loss results much longer than those that choose to maintain a strict diet, only to return to their previous eating habits.
The same is true for goals, and setting the ones that are actually attainable. When goals are too lofty, it can cause dieters to become discouraged and frustrated. Swap white grains for whole grains, and only enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich once a week. These changes might seem small, but they will help dieters to stay the course, even when the going gets tough.
When working to lose weight, it’s also advisable to get plenty of exercise. Even a daily half hour walk can make a significant difference in the amount of calories that the body burns, and the activity can help keep food cravings away.
Dieting is hard, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. By being a bit flexible and forgiving when a food cheat happens, dieters may just find that they reach their weight loss goals sooner than they thought they could.