How to Start a Diet

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

If you've started a diet many times before, or want to lose weight but can't get started, it's worth taking some time to think through the practicalities and prepare yourself mentally for success.

Here's how:

1. Put previous failures behind you

Don’t dwell on dieting failures you’ve had in the past. The chances are if you need to lose weight now, they weren’t right for you. Instead, make a promise to yourself that this will be the last time you’ll ever need to lose weight.

2. Use your head

Add up all the hours you’ve wasted in the last month worrying about your weight and what you eat. Then compare them with the number of hours you’ve spent feeling great about your size, shape and diet! Hold on to the fact that before too long, you’ll be changing those negative thoughts for positive ones.

3. Visualise the new slim you

Spend some time visualising your new life as a slimmer, fitter and healthier you. Find somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed, sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes.

In your mind’s eye see yourself as the slimmer you. How does it feel? How much more confident are you? How do you look? What are you wearing? What are you doing in your new life? What ambitions do you have? What changes have you made?

Hold onto this image of the new you and as you continue on the road to losing weight, take time to revisit it at regular intervals. Holding onto this image will help you to stay focussed and boost your determination if things get tough.

4. Prepare to fit diet around your lifestyle

Forget about trying to change the way you live to accommodate a new way of eating – it’s guaranteed to result in failure. Trying to turn yourself into a Domestic Goddess when you work incredibly long hours or only buying foods from a health food shop when you have a family of four to feed will quickly result in you ditching your new way of eating.

Instead, fit your diet around your lifestyle and you’ll be far more likely to shift those pounds.

5. Identify bad habits

More often than not, we eat out of habit rather than because we are hungry – and this can easily sabotage good intentions.

Spend some time identifying those occasions when you eat out of habit. For example, do you always go straight to the fridge when you get home? Do you always have a biscuit with your morning coffee? Do you always buy a cake when you walk past the bakery?

Look at ways to swap these old habits for new, healthier ones. For example, go straight to the fruit bowl when you get in; swap your coffee and biscuit for sparkling water and fruit; or take a different route home that avoids the bakery.

6. Avoid ‘all or nothing’ thinking

Prepare yourself for the fact that you will probably overindulge from time to time. But also prepare for how you will deal with this.

Remember, one small over-indulgence doesn’t mean you’ve ‘blown your diet’ or give you free licence to go on a food fest! Simply put the indulgence behind you and move on. Tomorrow is another day.

7. Think positively about food

Dieting shouldn’t be about denial and deprivation. Instead of thinking about all the foods you should be eating less of, focus on all the foods you will be able to eat more of. And don’t picture them in a negative light.

Think of words to describe them that makes them sound delicious, for example, a juicy, crunchy apple, a mouth-watering bowl of strawberries or a satisfying, filling slice of wholegrain bread.

8. Healthy eating is for life

Ban the word ‘diet’ from your vocabulary and instead focus on the fact you’ll be changing your eating habits for life.

‘Going on a diet’ implies you start on a particular day, finish on a particular day and only change what you eat in between, so that once your ‘diet’ is finished you return to the eating habits that made you pile on the pounds in the first place! Instead, use this time to kickstart a long-term healthy eating plan you can sustain for life.

Bonus Tip

Use the food diary and tools in WLR to see how you can have a diet that fits into your lifestyle for long term success. You can try it free for 24 hours.

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