by Angela Reed-Fox
A OnePoll survey asked 1,000 people what made them break their diets. The results were enlightening. In 35% of cases, the diet didn't last more than a month - below are the main reasons diets failed. For many respondents, more than one of these reasons applied, I'll explain the reasons why this might be the case, and what you can do to avoid the same mistakes:
27% found that the lack of flavour led them to go 'off-piste'
Many of us eat a narrow variety of foods at the best of times; add a restrictive diet, and you're heading for Food Boredom faster than you can 'quinoa'. We tend to be creatures of habit, and so our food choices are reduced when we start a diet as we're essentially cutting out lots of the food we would normally eat.
Learning to think differently about food is essential - when we move away from 'food makes me fat' to 'food makes me healthy' we're making good progress. The government guidelines of 5 daily portions of fruit or vegetables can seem difficult to do - but if you focus on increasing the really useful foods, you'll necessarily have to cut back on those which are full of 'empty' calories - foods of little nutritional benefit.
Being adventurous is something that we often forget to do when we have jobs and families to look after - but it can be as simple as buying some spices you've never heard of from the supermarket and experimenting! If food has no flavour - add some!
36% struggled with seeing other people eat something they desired
Recognise this one?! There are several ways to deal with this. On the one hand, if we're eating for success there are no forbidden foods - you just need to keep an eye on quantity. On the other hand, you can also be prepared by having a healthier snack on hand that you can eat instead.
It's worth remembering that willpower is not something you either have or haven't - it's something that fluctuates during the day (and the survey found that just after 4pm was the danger zone!) Therefore, it's up to us to make things as easy for ourselves as possible. Why is the afternoon so risky? We are better at making good decisions in the morning. As we get tired and stressed, we can find it difficult to stick to our principles of delayed gratification. If we're alert to those times of day where it's more difficult to stay on track, and plan accordingly, we're more likely to find success. It's the long game that matters, remember!
45% struggled with afternoon snacking
We referred to this briefly above. It might come as a surprise (or it might not) - we don't always snack because we're hungry. Sometimes we snack for comfort, for company, for compensation or reward, or from boredom. Any of these can strike when we've been up and about for a few hours!
Next time you're tempted by the biscuit tin, do the potato test - ask yourself: "Am I hungry enough to eat a plain baked potato?" There's a difference between needing and wanting food. There are many reasons to want food (see above) but only one to want it (hunger!)
If you're genuinely hungry, and not thirsty (sometimes we confuse the two), and not just wanting food, then go ahead - choose something light 100-200 calories and including protein or fibre to keep you fuller for longer. If you're wanting food, try waiting for 20 minutes. Agree that if you still want whatever you have your eye on in 20 minutes, you can have it. This way you get to stay in control, you're not depriving yourself of something against your willl, BUT, cravings tend to only last for 10-20 minutes, so you might find you don't necessarily want the snack if you wait a few minutes for it.
A whopping 59% of respondents said that other people (friends, colleagues, partners) made it difficult to continue with their diets.
It's quite sad that those trying to make healthy changes were coming up against such difficulties. Looking closely however, it can be the case that restrictive diets can have a negative effect on relationships as those not on the diet can feel 'judged', it's not always because a friend or relative is just being unsupportive.
We can't change our families, but we can change who we choose to spend time with - if there's a particular friend who is not supportive of your lifestyle changes, it might be that instead of going to eat out at a restaurant with them, you do something else with them instead. Changing what goes on around us can be a big help in enabling us to achieve success.
At Cardia, we want to see the end of diets; we're teaching total health and better living. If you're frustrated with diets and you're ready to leave the diet trap and achieve lasting success, we can help. Click the white button below to sign up for tips, discounts and offers on our programmes, or click the blue button if you're ready to find out more about how to get real results today:
Cardia is a nurse-led evidence-based programme that really works. Whether you're wanting to lose weight (for good!) or reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer, we can help.