If you have ever tried to lose weight, slim down for the summer, or cut for a show or photo shoot, then you know how difficult dieting can be. It's made doubly challenging because we're constantly surrounded by people, photos, and a culture that tells us to eat, eat, and eat.
Yes, dieting takes a lot of dedication, desire, and preparation, but it also takes a huge amount of willpower to resist temptation. None of us are born with immunity to tasty food. After all, the food industry thrives on learning what makes you pick up a fork.
Learning how to deal with those temptations will make your dieting experience much easier and more positive. More importantly, learning how to thwart temptation will carry over into your longer-term goals of leading a healthier life.
Here are five tips to help you get through your diet with a smile on your face!
Tip 1 Limit Alcohol Intake
I don't drink alcohol that often in general, so it's hardly an issue when I diet. However, I know that having a few drinks can make food cravings that much more difficult to ignore.
One of the worst (and best) parts about drinking is that it can lower your inhibitions. Without that little voice inside you telling you "Hey, you don't need that slice of pizza," the chance of you going from gin and soda to cheese and pepperoni is higher, even if you know better. If you're not dieting, that slice of pizza won't kill you, but if your goal is to be especially lean, then those extra calories will just make your road more difficult. Besides, you'll feel crappy about it the next morning.
In general, my advice is to cut alcohol from your diet completely. However, I know that's not always a realistic expectation. When you're dieting, do the best you can to refrain from drinking. If you must partake, do it in moderation and away from food temptations.
Tip 2 Plan Your Evening Snack
Oh, that chocolate craving that pops up right before bed! There may not be a more difficult temptation to overcome than the one that pops up at bedtime. The good news is, if you have the rest of your daily nutrition on lock, a planned late-night snack can actually fit into your diet.
By late-night snack, though, I don't mean a bag of chips or a doughnut; I mean a protein-packed snack that you make yourself. There are tons of healthy, recipes that are low in calories, high in protein, and taste just like the real treats you crave.
Check out the Healthy Recipe Database for ways to make delicious protein brownies, cupcakes, ice cream, and more!
Another way I like to keep myself from indulging is to avoid situations where those snacks could be readily available. So, keep things like Oreos and Doritos out of your pantry. You're much less likely to stray from your diet if you have to drive somewhere get it.
Tip 3 Be Open About Your Goals
Friends and family can have a strong influence on your food choices. If I was already on the fence about eating right for a particular meal, it only takes a little nudge from the right person for me to sway. It's really easy to give in if you're constantly hounded by Aunt Sally asking you to try her famous potato salad.
Now, I don't want you to remove your family from your life while you diet, but it is important for you to communicate with them about your goals. Even if your family and friends don't understand, take the time to explain your goals and what you need from your family.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with being honest with Aunt Sally. Tell her the potato salad doesn't fit into your nutrition plan, but after your event, you'd be delighted to try a little.
A diet can be extremely stressful. The last thing you need is someone giving you a hard time about your food choices. So, spend some extra time with people who understand your choices and support them. Hang out with your fellow gym rats and competitors. They'll be more understanding and less likely to make you feel bad. You can also communicate with the fit community on BodySpace if you need some extra support.
Tip 4 Get Lots Of Sleep
Sleep has a huge effect on the regulation of your hormones. If you don't sleep enough at night, the hormones that control hunger and appetite can be negatively impacted. A tired mind can easily look to unhealthy food for energy.
For optimal performance in the gym, stronger willpower, and a better-feeling body, get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. We all live busy, hectic lives, but prioritizing sleep is a smart, healthy thing to do.
If your goals include a better physique, you should do everything necessary to support those goals. Do yourself a favor: Go to bed early tonight.
Tip 5 Remember, It's A Lifestyle
If you're dieting for a particular event, you may have to be stricter than usual about what you put into your body. You can temporarily resist pretty much everything. So, don't freak out if you aren't allowed to have your daily dose of chocolate.
These tough choices and temporary restrictions can be great practice for your overall lifestyle changes, though. Everybody can be a little bit healthier, and not just for a few months out of the year.
Use your dieting nutrition strategy to springboard yourself into a healthier lifestyle that you can adopt year-round.
For example, try home-made protein ice cream instead of going to Dairy Queen, or bring protein brownies to a party instead of the real ones.
All of these little choices will add up to help you learn how to live a healthier life, which is what everyone should work toward.