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How to Stick to a Healthy Diet

Weigh In: How Do I Stick to a Healthy Diet?

A FitSugar reader needs your help. She's got a case of the Winter blues and is falling off the healthy diet wagon. Can you offer her any advice on how to get back on?

Dear Fit,
I'd like to know what other readers do when they're in a funk, food-wise. After the holidays, I got in shape for a trip I took, but since then I've been eating more crap and feeling a little sorry for myself. I'm also feeling blah because of the Winter weather. I know that when it comes down to it I can be healthier but I'm just not feeling it right now.

What does everyone do when they need motivation to eat better? I have been keeping up with my exercise pretty well, which is probably why my clothes don't feel too tight, but I don't feel like I am on my game.
— A Case of the Winter Blues

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Join The Conversation
kpeazy kpeazy 7 years
my biggest thing is eating a healthy breakfast. if i skip or eat something unhealthy, i will be hungrier and crave more junk throughout the day than i normally would. also, start out slowly with changes so you don't get overwhelmed. maybe start by cutting out liquid calories or by aiming for 2 healthy meals a day, and the rest will fall into place as your body adjusts.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I agree with what so many others have said. I've always done a combination of these things and tweaked what I do to fit where I am in my life. Currently, I've been eating out more than I'd like to, but I just stick to salads with low fat or fat free dressing on the side, sandwiches without mayo, etc. And, I agree with others, it's OK to indulge every once in a while. If I want something from the delicious lunch truck that's probably a little higher in calories than what I typically eat, I'll just go for it. If you do it every once in while, it won't stop you from losing weight (or maintaining your current healthy weight, if that's your goal). I do have to say, portion control is super hard for me because when I try to eat small portions I always end up hungry and it gives me headaches and makes it difficult for me to concentrate. So, instead of focusing too much on portion control, I try to focus on eating healthy foods so I can have bigger portions but not have tons of calories.
zeze zeze 7 years
foxy, it is exhausting if you are a super accurate about it, but I just do estimates and keep a limit in my head. And I can't stress this enough - COOK YOUR OWN FOOD! Like Spectra mentioned, exploring new foods and recipes is amazing, and it's so much fun. And with a lot of stuff you can totally substitute and trim the fat and the taste never really suffers - I make french toast with whole wheat bread, cinnamon, 1% milk and a drizzle of honey and butter spray (yes real butter) and it's amazing for under 400 calories with fruit and coffee. Same goes for oven-chicken tenders over smart pasta mixed with fresh tomatoes, basil, parm and a side of whole wheat bread sprayed with butter, topped with garlic and a bit more parm... I mean the possibilities are endless when you make your own food, honestly you will start to see how limiting unhealthy food is, besides greasy fried stuff there isn't much else. And ANYTHING you love, there is a way to adjust it to make it more healthy.
Advah Advah 7 years
Portion control! Slowly get your body used to have less food. I find it easy to completely stop liquid calories than fat food (but that might be cause I'm not a big soda person, maybe different for others): allow yourself one Starbucks a week instead of 5, that'll already be a lot less calories. And eat smaller portions: if you want nachos, have some but half what you'd usually have for instance, and with a salad. You won't feel deprived and still enjoy varied food. That might not lead you to dramatic weight loss but it always helps me shed a few extra pounds - and I find it much easier to get serious about exercise and watching what I eat once I start losing weight, it's more encouraging.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
I agree with Spectra. Try new healthy foods, and chances are, you will find something you'll love to eat. There are so many tasty, healthy foods out there. Personally, I recently discovered lentils. OMG, so delicious, healthy, AND economical. Also, another motivation for me is that want to feel good AND look good. Eating healthy, nourishing foods is an important component of that.
Paul123 Paul123 7 years
There’s an interesting post over at the Health Journal Club that makes the case that people should just not eat anything that wasn’t a food 100 years ago. Gets rid of the aspartame, bleached GM flour, high fructose corn syrup garbage they try to pass off as food these days. If interested you can read on it here,
Spectra Spectra 7 years
You have to not focus on what you "can't" have and instead focus on what you CAN have. So if you "can't" have potato chips, you can have popcorn or something else instead. That's what I do...Maybe you need to get creative with your choices. If you're stuck in a food rut, find some new healthy recipes to try. Right now, I'm very into new soups to try. Or find a new veggie that you've never had before and find a way to prepare it that sounds yummy. That's how I "discovered" jicama, spaghetti squash, and broccoli rabe. Ditto with new fruits...go through the produce section and grab something new that you've never tried before. Chances are, you'll find something you really love.
foxymardy foxymardy 7 years
Isn't counting calories exhausting? I hardly do it but I do know roughly how much calories is there in my meals. For me it's easier to make sure I'm eating healthy meals in reasonable portions. Portions are really important, No point of eating the good stuff when you're eating triple the amount you're supposed to eat. I think you should just take it easy and make simple changes first. I used to 'indulge' too by eating greasy stuff once in a while, but as time goes by the 'treats' tasted gross to me, and I would avoid it. Don't force yourself too much, you might overdo it and end up binging. Good luck!
zeze zeze 7 years
I count calories sometimes, and I keep to a VERY low number, but since I only estimate calories and round up/down, even when I underestimate or go over a little, its not too bad since I will fall within what my actual calorie goal should be (basically I trick myself). How that helps keep a healthy diet is that low cal foods tend to be healthy, so instead of having that muffin in the morning for 350 with the mocha for 300, I know that I won't have much left over for lunch and dinner, I go for water/skinny latte and a bowl of whole grain oatmeal with dark chocolate chips and raspberries - yum!
Mila_83 Mila_83 7 years
I think I got lucky - growing up overseas "junk food" was never a part of our vocabulary.Our diet always consisted of fish,fresh dairy,fruits and vegetables. We did not have fast food restaurants and most kids were enrolled in some kind of sport program since very young age. When I came to this country I simply maintained my eating habits and never set my foot into McDonald's,Burger King,Taco Bell - I just think their "food" is plain gross.How can you trade bowl of fresh strawberries for bunch of greasy french fries??Love your body and do what's best for it.No time to get to the gym?Incorporate activity in your daily routine-run around the block in the morning,get a jumping rope and play with your kids and take a hike with your girlfriends.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 7 years
Ita with no. 14. How about make healthy food fun. When I had the 'blues,' I loved researching all these different recipes, and trying 'em in the kitchen.Tweaking 'em to suit my palate without going completely unhealthy. Or I'd try finding the lighter alternative to hearty dishes (and if you don't like the recipes you found online or in the books--tweak it yourself, learn to appreciate your palate and learning to know what you really enjoy taste-wise). But of course, although many would disagree with me, there are times, like once a month that I indulged (buying fast food and actually ordering the burger--but believe me, it's rare, b/c boy, for junk food they're PRICEY compared to the really good food I cook at home). I mean, I think it's fine to indulge once in awhile. :) Good luck.
lilxmissxmolly lilxmissxmolly 7 years
Whenever i need to get back into healthy habits, I start by finding new recipes to make for meals! If I cook healthy meals, I know I'll eat them! I especially like healthy soups because they're filling and versatile!
FitSoccerGirl FitSoccerGirl 7 years
I think it all boils down to what motivates you. Sometimes we lose track of that in or day-to-day lives. For me, my motivation is health. My grandfather passed away a year ago from cancer. After doing research, I learned that many foods out there are harmful for our bodies. I don't know about you, but I want to live as long as I possibly can. That tends to be my motivation to stay healthy. Also, I try not to eat out at all!!! When I go to the grocery store, I stay away from sweets. If its in my pantry, I will be tempted to eat it, haha! Just remember to take baby steps when making changes, you can't change everything overnight!
laellavita laellavita 7 years
I know this seems counterintuitive, but healthy junk food never cut it for me. I totally believe in making other meals healthier, and going with better and equally as tasty alternatives, but when i want junk food, I go all in and get the bad stuff -- because then i can't kid myself and I KNOW I ate something "bad" and will be better at my next meal. But as far as my best tip, exercise is really the thing that drives me to eat better. When I exercise, my body always feels great, so why would I want to clog that great feeling with crap food? Also, I begin to eat FOR my exercise, and plan my healthy eating so that I can perform at the optimum level when I work out. Also, don't be so hard on yourself. If you're upset because you can't get on the wagon, chances are you'll eat your feelings because you're upset, and then become upset that you ate the "bad" food. It's a vicious cycle, don't let yourself get caught in it!
Azurefire Azurefire 7 years
Simple solution...indulge by making healthy "junk" or comfort food. Some that I Iike: -Spicy black bean veggie burgers with tomato, lettuce, red onion, and a dab of gaucamole on whole wheat buns and oven fries sprinked with a little "Fiesta Ranch" mix. -Meatloaf made with half extra lean ground beef and half tofu(drain beforehand), with some crushed reduced fat Cheeze-its mixed in. The tofu actually gives the meatloaf a silkier texture. -Turkey dogs with chili-cheese sauce. To make the sauce mix 1 can Nally vegetarian or turkey chili with 1/4 package reduced fat (nuefchatel) cream cheese. -Orange segments dipped in a little dark chocolate. -Nachos made with Baked Tostitos scoops. Top with reduced fat or fat free chedder and bake(or grill!) till cheese is melted. Mix together black beans, grape tomatoes(halved), diced avacado, cilantro and lime juice for a tasty chunky dip for your nachos. -Greek meatballs with cucumber sauce. Mix half extra lean ground beef with half soy "beef" crumbles. Add 1 egg or equivelent Egg Beaters, 1 clove crushed garlic, some crumpled reduced fat feta cheese, breadcrumbs, dill, mint, and oregano and form meatballs. Cook in a pan at medium-high heat till cooked through, then place on a paper towel to remove excess grease. Serve with cucumber sauce and lemon flavored rice and/or cucumber salad. (For the cucumber sauce, aka "tzatziki": 1 tub fat free -greek- yogurt, fresh chopped dill and mint, lemon zest and a little juice, 1 clove crushed garlic, pinch of salt, and some grated english cucumber. If you can't find greek yogurt, substitute light sour cream or drain some plain reg yogurt in a coffee filter overnight)
cowboyplus cowboyplus 7 years
the worse i eat the worse i feel ... if i'm not eating right i get depressed because of the inadequate nutrition. for me it takes a few days to get used to the taste of good food and then my tastes change and i want the good food. after that the bad food just doesn't taste or even sound as good anymore.
C-Ruth C-Ruth 7 years
whenever I start craving something, instead I just drink a large glass of water. most of the time when you feel hungry, you really just need water.
socalbeachgal socalbeachgal 7 years
Don't be too harsh on yourself, it is a tough challenge for most people to be perfect in eating healthy and dieting. If you are keeping up with your exercise, the diet part will come back (or it has for me when I "fall off"). Just think about how much better you feel when you are both eating well and exercising regularly.
inlove23 inlove23 7 years
I agree with foxymardy, and I haven't really had fast food in a while because my body just doesn't crave it anymore. I cut out a lot of things like ice cream, soda, and fast food, but I'm not super strict because if I crave something long enough (a week) than I'll give in, but I just normally don't want it after a few hours. I also hate feeling guilty after eating a big bowl of junk so it motivates me even further to know that I don't need. I personally love getting weight watchers/lean cusine meals because they really fill me up without me feeling guilty. I also like eating salads and fruit mixes for lunch. I found it's much cheaper too, at wawa, I can get a huge bowl of fresh fruit for 2.99 or a huge salad for 4.99 now, but before I would spend 6-7 on Chickfila, and I would never be satisfied.
Graze-With-Me Graze-With-Me 7 years
I find that a clean healthy diet is much easier to stick with than exercise. I've always said that body composition is 80% diet, 10% exercise routine & 10% genetics. That 80% is HUGE for me and I know that as long as I feed my body healthy, fresh foods I feel so much better both physically and mentally. After a few days of unhealthy eating, whether on vacation or during the holidays, I feel bloated, run down and less energized. But a day or two of good, clean foods get me right back in line and I feel fantastic!
clearskies clearskies 7 years
Yea it's really hard but you just got to keep trying things until they work. I know when I eat a lot of sweets or fatty things, the first day eating healthy is the hardest but then the next day I feel good again. Just get past that first day. Then when you slip up one too many times again, just keep trying, it's your life, you can never give trying to feel good.
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