How to stick to your diet without really trying (no willpower necessary)

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I’ve been following Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Lean 30 Day Meal Plan for a week now. I’ve been pretty satisfied, and that comes mostly from making sure that I’m eating enough of the good stuff: huge salads, enormous servings of roasted veg, and bottomless bowls of soup. That said I’ve had some moments here and there where I was really craving some off-plan foods (Triple chocolate brownies? Yes, please!).

How do I stick to the plan and say no to those brownies without hating it? Well, I’ll tell you what’s working for me.

Now, these tips don’t include things like brushing your teeth when you’re really craving pizza. And they don’t include posting your “thinspiration” on the front of your fridge door. These are the things that work for me, and these are things that I try to keep in mind, so that I can follow my meal plan, stay sane around food, and actually have fun doing it. No willpower necessary.

Don’t do because. Just do.

I like to experiment with things like Sugar-Free September and the Glowing Lean Meal Plan because it challenges me in the kitchen and teaches me things about my body and mind. I just find it kind of fun. Would I like to lose weight? Sure, that’d be cool. But it can’t be about that. It can’t be about anything at all, really. Once I attach weight goals to the program, then it suddenly takes on more meaning. And that starts to introduce a whole lot of mental confusion that I think that anyone who has tried to follow a weight loss diet can probably relate to.

Instead of telling myself, “This meal plan is going to help me lose those 5 pounds, and give me the life I’ve always wanted,” I simply think, “This meal plan is just something I’m doing.” No expectations, no crazy goals, dreams and self-worth attached. I do it because I’m doing it, and that’s all. If I don’t do it, I’m not doing it, and that’s all.

No for now, not forever.

As anyone who has ever been on a diet knows, the moment you tell yourself that you can’t eat something, it becomes all you can think about, and then next thing you know you’re standing in front of an open refrigerator eating raw cookie dough.

This is exactly why I personally like trying these short-term challenges. Just like Sugar-Free September, where I gave up sugar for 30 days, this meal plan has an expiry date. Of course I’d love to think that I’d quit sugar forever, or that I’d follow the Beauty Detox principles of the Glowing Lean Meal Plan every day for the rest of my life, but y’know what? I don’t even worry about that. All I focus on is my short-term plan of following the program for 30 days. I can decide what happens after when I come to it.

I use the “no for now, not forever” principle on a daily basis, too. When the call from those chocolate chip cookies became particularly loud on Tuesday afternoon, I thought “no for now, not forever,” and brewed a mug of tea. I didn’t tell myself that I could or couldn’t have a cookie after my tea; I just put it off until later. I never did go back for that cookie.  But y’know what? If I had gone ahead and eaten that cookie. Or two. Or three. That would have been 100% fine, too, because…

There is no wagon.

You can’t fall off the wagon if there is no wagon, right? There’s also no track, so you don’t need to worry about getting off it. This is an important one, I think. It’s this whole mentality that is the cause of all the yo-yo dieting so many of us get caught up it. You stick to your diet until you “slip up” and then that one bite turns into two and then you throw your hands up because the day is already ruined, so you might as well go all in. Sound familiar? You’ll get back on track tomorrow, right? It’s always tomorrow, or Monday morning, or January 1st. No! It’s right now. Or it’s always. Or it’s never. Ok, I don’t know, but my point is that if you’ve been eating well for 3 days straight and then you eat a whole pie to yourself, that doesn’t mean anything. It’s so easy to get our self-worth all wrapped up in our feelings and behaviours around food. When we stick to our diets, we feel good, and when we don’t, we feel horrid. Let’s promise to stop all of that, ok? I think we all misunderstood the whole “you are what you eat” thing. You are not what you eat. You are not what you don’t eat. You are, and you eat.

It’s not about willpower.

Sticking to a meal plan shouldn’t be a constant struggle. I really, really don’t believe in needing to muster willpower to stick to some diet. I actually really hate this whole concept because it implies that when we “fail” on our diets, it’s because we didn’t have enough willpower. We weren’t strong enough. We didn’t want it enough. The thing is, we really want to eat healthy or be thin or only ever eat organic, gluten-free, raw, vegan whatever, but we also really want to eat cake. So eventually we eat cake and feel awful about it. How about instead of fighting ourselves, we just chill out a little and be nice to ourselves.

If you’re finding it really tough to follow a certain meal plan, there are a few things to consider:

Firstly, are you eating enough? Try loading up on more of the stuff that already fits into your meal plan. I think that a lot of the time we fight against ourselves thinking that our cravings are psychological, when in fact our bodies are just hungry!

Secondly, are you getting all the nutrients you need? Drinking my daily GGS goes a super long way in preventing cravings. A well-nourished body won’t crave anything. Fill up on all the amazing, healthy and delicious foods that are on your meal plan and then see how you feel.

Thirdly, are you biting off more than you can chew? Have you tried to introduce a whole bunch of changes all at once? Instead, by slowly introducing changes, you’ll get a much better idea of how each of those changes is working for you. When I went sugar-free, I didn’t worry about anything else. When I was making my food choices, I looked at sugar content, but didn’t give a thought to calories, fat, dairy, gluten or anything else.

Finally, are you feeling restricted and deprived? If you’re really craving muffins and burgers and huge bowls of fettuccine alfredo, eat them. Otherwise, chances are that you’re going to resist and resist and resist, until you fall face first into a pint of Rocky Road ice cream, scarf down those muffins and burgers and huge bowls of fettuccine alfredo, and who knows what else, when really you could have just eaten what you wanted and gone on with your day without all that emotional turmoil.

 

For more on this topic, check out Isabel Foxen Duke. She’s hilarious, swears a lot, and has a free guide called “How to not eat cake… really fast, standing up, when nobody’s watching!”

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jill! Exactly what I needed right now. Life would be so much simpler, easier and happier if we were a bit kinder to ourselves, right? Sigh. 🙂 x

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