We have almost all been there. A little overweight, feeling a little unhealthy, starting to react badly to foods that we have always been fine with, so we decide to reboot our diets by taking out some of the ‘bad’ foods that have crept in, and replace them with ‘good’ alternatives. But all too often, we rush into a diet, starting it immediately without any planning or contingencies – with disastrous results! This is because like all life-changing decisions, changing your diet should be a planned event, like moving house or changing jobs – you would not do either of those things without some advance planning, and making sweeping lifestyle changes is similar.
What to Do
Pick a date that you will begin your diet – between a week and a month away, although around a fortnight is ideal, and then diarise goals to reach between that time and the present. Taking the following steps will help you to be ready for the new healthier way of eating that will hopefully become a way of life for you before too long.
Many diets include giving up or cutting down on cola drinks, tea and coffee, exchanging them for decaffeinated versions. Start doing this well in advance of the beginning date. There is nothing worse than trying to cut out sugar, caffeine, pastries, excess carbs – whatever diet plan you choose to follow will invariably involve eliminating certain foods or substances from your meals – all at once and deal with multiple forms of withdrawal all at once! This can make you feel ill, tired and unmotivated and feeling bad can make it all too easy to derail the diet before you have even properly begun!
Cut Down on Sugar
In much the same way as decaffeinating, cutting down on sugar slowly instead of cutting it out abruptly can help you to deal with cravings and digestive upsets that can occur when you suddenly make drastic changes to the foods that you eat. You might be surprised at just how much sugar you are taking in with foods that are not thought of as being particularly sugary: sausages have added sugar to help them caramelise in the pan, going that delicious golden-brown colour; burgers often have a little sugar added for the same reason, bread has sugar in it to help make it softer, and many sauces contain sugar to enhance flavour and add a subtle undertone of sweetness to the dishes.
Drinking water is an excellent way to help you with your dietary goals, whether that is losing weight, gaining health or building muscle. But water is bland to taste buds more attuned to sugary pop, strong coffee, and fruity cordials, so begin to get used to the taste and texture of water by introducing several glasses of water into your daily routine. Filling up on water is also a good way to stave off food cravings, so it is a very useful tool to helping you achieve your goals.
Get rid of all your fall-back comfort foods. Either eat your way through them in the count down to your diet beginning, if you abhor waste, or bin them or give them away, but make sure the easy mindless foods – crisps, biscuits, even dried fruit (it is very high in sugar) and nuts (too easy to overeat) are banished in favour of fresh vegetables, natural yoghurt, and unprocessed pre-cooked meats. If your family will insist on keeping junk food in the home, insist they remove it from your sight and your reach, at least in the beginning weeks of the dietary change, until you have settled into your new regimen.
Now you know how to plan a diet all that remains is for you to set that date, and diarise all the changes that you need to undertake during the countdown to a new, successful, you!