Every year in Jan­u­ary, approx­i­mate­ly 72% of Rus­sians sur­veyed promise to eat healthy, but the major­i­ty give up by the end of the month. So why do diet crash­es hap­pen, and what can you do about it? We talk about it in the mate­r­i­al.

By the end of the first month of the year, the real­iza­tion comes that many planned goals remained only in the head or on paper. This also applies to fit­ness promis­es. Only a third of Rus­sians sur­veyed keep their word and con­tin­ue to eat right. This is evi­denced by the results of a study avail­able to RBC. The major­i­ty of respon­dents decid­ed to switch to prop­er nutri­tion to com­bat excess weight.

  • 29% — due to diges­tive prob­lems;
  • 22% — due to a con­stant feel­ing of fatigue;

Why do so many people have diet breakdowns?

There are sev­er­al rea­sons for diet fail­ures, and they are quite sim­ple and under­stand­able to every­one:

  1. The strength of old habits and the same diet (39%);
  2. Love of fast food and oth­er “harm­ful” prod­ucts (14%);
  3. Lack of belief that eat­ing exclu­sive­ly “right” foods is real­is­tic (12%).

Only 10% of respon­dents were able to eas­i­ly give up unhealthy foods, and 35% were able to grad­u­al­ly elim­i­nate fast food, sweets, baked goods and alco­holic drinks. More­over, for the major­i­ty of respon­dents, giv­ing up sweets became the most dif­fi­cult part of the marathon of prop­er nutri­tion.

Read also: These 4 rules will help you stay on your diet

How not to break your diet in winter?

In our oth­er mate­r­i­al, a nutri­tion­ist explained why diets in cold weath­er can harm the body: sharp food restric­tions pro­voke iron defi­cien­cy, which, in turn, dis­rupts the func­tion­ing of hor­mones. The spe­cial­ist also not­ed that in win­ter, almost all res­i­dents of Rus­sia expe­ri­ence a lack of vit­a­min D, so lim­it­ing and reduc­ing the menu of your diet should be approached with knowl­edge of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of “win­ter life.”

Why do dieting crashes still occur?

So why do diet crash­es con­tin­ue despite all our efforts? In addi­tion to habits, love for fast food and doubts about the real­i­ty of healthy nutri­tion, there are oth­er rea­sons. Let’s look at them.

Lack of support

One of the main rea­sons for diet fail­ure is the lack of sym­pa­thiz­ers. If friends and fam­i­ly don’t sup­port or even dis­cour­age your efforts, main­tain­ing your diet can be dif­fi­cult.

One 2018 study found a link between social sup­port and weight loss fail­ure. Researchers have found that peo­ple who receive more sup­port from their friends and fam­i­ly tend to be more suc­cess­ful with their diet and exer­cise habits. Social sup­port includes moral sup­port, prac­ti­cal help and atten­tion from peo­ple around you.

You decide to switch to a healthy diet, but your friends constantly suggest going to a place with junk food or treat you to it.  Under such conditions, it is clear why diet breakdowns occur.

Stress and emotional tension

Some­times peo­ple eat to cope with stress or neg­a­tive emo­tions. If you haven’t found anoth­er way to deal with it, diet relapse occurs.

This is called “emo­tion­al eat­ing.” It can be sweet, fat­ty or salty — as a rule, these are the foods that we like the most. And if we don’t find anoth­er way to cope with stress, we may break off our diet and start eat­ing.

Research has found that stress can increase food crav­ings, espe­cial­ly for foods high in sug­ar and fat. This can lead to overeat­ing and break­ing the diet.

It is important to understand that losing weight is not the only way to cope with stress.  There are other, healthier ways: exercise, meditation, reading or just hanging out with friends.

Inadequate expectations

Expect­ing quick results from your diet can cause dis­ap­point­ment and set­backs when you lose weight when you don’t lose weight as quick­ly as you want­ed. It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that los­ing weight is a process that takes time.

Wrong approach to diet

Sci­en­tif­ic research con­firms that chang­ing your eat­ing habits is the most effec­tive way to achieve your weight loss goals and min­i­mize the risk of relapse. A 2015 study found that par­tic­i­pants who fol­lowed long-term healthy eat­ing habits had a low­er risk of devel­op­ing obe­si­ty and chron­ic dis­eases such as type 2 dia­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease com­pared to those who fol­lowed short-term diets.

Many people view dieting as a temporary challenge rather than a lifestyle change.  However, healthy eating should be regular, not one-time.

Incomplete information

If you don’t know what foods and how much you need to eat, it can lead to poor nutri­tion. It hap­pens that peo­ple, try­ing to lose weight, lim­it them­selves too much in food or eat the wrong foods. This can lead to unbal­anced nutri­tion, fatigue, and ulti­mate­ly, diet fail­ure.

It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that each per­son needs a dif­fer­ent amount of calo­ries per day, depend­ing on age, gen­der, activ­i­ty lev­el and oth­er fac­tors. Plus, not all calo­ries are cre­at­ed equal: calo­ries from veg­eta­bles and whole grains are health­i­er than calo­ries from sug­ar and fat­ty foods.

How to stay on your diet: tips and life hacks

We all know that diet­ing is not easy. It is impor­tant not only to choose a suit­able nutri­tion plan, but also to be able to stick to it. Some­times it is dif­fi­cult to resist the temp­ta­tion and not fall off the diet. But the good news is that there are ways to help you stay moti­vat­ed and stick to your diet.

How to stay on your diet:

  • Set real­is­tic goals

The first step to min­i­miz­ing diet relapse is set­ting real­is­tic goals. If you want to lose 10 kg in a month, you will most like­ly find it dif­fi­cult and will only end up dis­ap­point­ed. Instead, set your­self more achiev­able goals, such as los­ing 1–2 kg per week. This will help you stay moti­vat­ed and reduce the risk of relapse.

  • Don’t starve

Many peo­ple think that to lose weight you need to lim­it your­self in food. In fact, this is not true. Fast­ing pro­vokes fail­ures when los­ing weight. It can also have the oppo­site effect: your body will store more fat as a reserve. The bot­tom line is that when you don’t eat for a long time, your body starts to think it’s hun­gry. As a result, it begins to store more fat to use as a source of ener­gy in the future. This may lead to weight gain rather than weight loss.

Anoth­er prob­lem with fast­ing is that when you final­ly start eat­ing, you’ll like­ly feel very hun­gry and eat more than you actu­al­ly need. It can also lead to weight gain. This is con­firmed by numer­ous stud­ies.

Therefore, it is important to eat regularly and not skip meals.  Try to eat small portions every 3-4 hours to avoid diet breakdowns.
  • Plan your meals

If you plan your meals in advance, it will be eas­i­er for you to stay on track with your diet. When you know in advance what you’ll have for lunch or din­ner, it reduces the like­li­hood that you’ll eat some­thing quick and unhealthy. Plan your meals for the day or week ahead. Make a list of the prod­ucts you will need and go to the store. This will help you avoid impul­sive pur­chas­es and fail­ures when los­ing weight.

It's also worth thinking about healthy snacks ahead of time.  This could be nuts, fresh fruits, vegetables or yogurt.  Having a quick, healthy snack with you can help you manage your hunger between meals.  This will help prevent failure in losing weight.
  • Find sup­port

Sup­port from loved ones can make your jour­ney to healthy eat­ing much eas­i­er. Tell friends and fam­i­ly about your goals. They can help you over­come dif­fi­cult moments and cope with break­downs on weight loss or diet.

It is also impor­tant to empha­size that sup­port can come not only from loved ones, but also from pro­fes­sion­als in the field of healthy eat­ing: nutri­tion­ists or phys­i­cal fit­ness train­ers. They can tell you how to diet based on sci­ence and help you improve your diet and fit­ness.

  • Be kind to your­self

A 2012 study found that self-com­pas­sion was pos­i­tive­ly asso­ci­at­ed with healthy eat­ing behav­ior. Peo­ple who treat­ed them­selves with more com­pas­sion were more like­ly to stick to their healthy goals with­out hav­ing to wor­ry about diet­ing.

Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes sometimes.  If you regularly experience diet breakdowns, don't panic.  Just remember your goals, forgive yourself and keep moving forward.  The main thing is, don’t give up on your efforts and continue to take care of your health.

In con­clu­sion, remem­ber that the key to a crash-free diet is not strict restric­tions, but a healthy approach to eat­ing. If you set real­is­tic goals, plan your meals prop­er­ly, and don’t go hun­gry, you will suc­ceed!

More on the topic:

How to lose fat, not mus­cle, when los­ing weight: every­one who is los­ing weight should know this life hack

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