Have you ever changed, or tried to change, the way you habitually eat? Most of us connect the word “diet” with “weight loss”, but people adopt particular diets for a number of reasons: these could be related to your health (which sometimes necessitates weight gain), your finances (eating more cheaply) or particular ethical or environmental concerns.
If you’ve ever been on a diet you’ll know that commitment is crucial. Many of us have been trying to lose a few pounds for years, often half-heartedly “dieting” again each Monday, and never making much proGREss. Others might manage to stick with a regime for a few weeks, only to come unstuck at the first vacation, birthday or party that comes along.
Here are some ways to stay committed to your diet:
Set Out Your Guidelines
If you’re following a vegetarian diet, be clear with yourself exactly what that means. Do you eat fish, for instance? How about eggs? Do you make sure the cheese you buy is vegetarian? There aren’t right or wrong answers here – and yours will probably depend on your reasons for adopting a vegetarian diet.
You can ask yourself similar questions about veganism and raw foodism – where are you drawing the lines?
For those trying to lose weight, you might want to forbid certain foods some or all of the time. For example, you might decide that you’ll only eat chocolate on weekends, or that you’ll avoid full-fat cheese altogether. (Tip: don’t try to be too restrictive – many weight-loss dieters find this is counter-productive as it can lead to binging.)
Record What You Eat
If you’re struggling to stay committed to your diet, recording what you eat is a GREat way to keep on track. You don’t need to keep an elaborate diary or journal: in some cases, you might simply tick days on the calendar when you’ve stuck to your guidelines.
Keeping a log of your eating patterns can also help you to identify particular times or situations that tend to knock your commitment to your diet. Perhaps you always end up eating fatty, salty processed foods with a particular group of friends, or maybe you tend to succumb to candy in the afternoons.
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Join With Like-Minded Friends
There are thousands of groups, both physical and virtual, for all sorts of different diets. You could find a local vegetarian, vegan or raw food association, and attend meetings: if your friends and family don’t support your diet, this is a GREat way to surround yourself with people who do. If you can’t meet up locally, try looking for forums or email groups online. You might want to start at VeggieBoards, which includes areas for vegetarians, vegans and raw foodists.
If you’re on a weight loss journey, you might find that attending a local club helps you to stay committed – especially as most have weigh-ins! Weight Watchers is the best-known chain of clubs, but there are plenty of other options, so hunt around for something that suits you. Again, there are lots of free online forums where you can get support and advice about losing weight and sticking to your diet.
Make Gradual Changes
In some cases, overhauling your diet instantly isn’t going to be realistic. You can get healthier and lose weight by making incremental changes – you don’t have to be “perfect”. A GREat resource for making gradual, step-by-step changes is 31 Days to a Better Diet.
And in many cases, you need to take it slowly for the sake of your health. If you want to be a raw foodist but currently eat an omnivorous, mainly cooked, diet, your body will need time to adjust gradually: don’t try to switch to 100% raw food overnight:
An abrupt change to a raw food diet can cause detoxifying symptoms such as weight loss and a lowering of blood pressure. It is best to gradually transition to a raw food diet by including more fruits and vegetables in the daily diet and gradually decreasing the amount of cooked foods. (Is a Raw Food Diet Healthy for an Athlete?, Darlene, Bright Hub)