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Updated 15 July 2014

Diet: how to stay motivated this winter

It's hard to make healthy food choices when it's cold outside and you're craving warm comfort foods. Dietitian Kim Hoffmann has some handy tips to keep you motivated.

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We all go through difficult times where we can't seem to make healthy food choices and, the longer we stay off track, the harder it seems to get the healthy eating going again. How do you get back on track, especially with the winter weather that seems to be even colder than the last!

Here are a couple of guidelines that may help to get things started:

Reassess your eating plan

Are you expecting yourself to eat the same foods that you have for the last six months? We all need change at some point, and boredom on an eating plan is one of the main reasons for "cheating". The important point to remember is that you can eat anything and fit it into a healthy eating plan. So spice your eating plan up a bit to make you feel less bored with the eating. 

Don’t try to be a perfectionist

Many of us have an inherent desire to be perfect at everything that we do, which means that our eating needs to be 100% "correct" at all times. But realistically, this is not possible! Firstly what is perfect eating – there are so many foods to choose from, that you can’t say only one way is correct. As long as you get into the habit of eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar levels constant you are not going wrong.

Set achievable goals

Setting small, measurable goals is a good way to go, but try to incorporate some eating habit goals rather than just weight goals. Weight goals need to be realistic and should not be more than ½-1 kg per week. Even this can be difficult if your body is not at its best physiologic state. I often find that weight loss improves over time when you keep the consistency of regular eating going. Setting smaller, more attainable goals will also give you more confidence to continue on the journey.

Re-evaluate your excuses

I know from myself that when I’m in a bad space with my exercise and eating habits I am full of silly excuses and actually waste a lot of time on them. Excuses have become part of our life with our hectic lifestyles, but it is time to re-evaluate what is an excuse and what is in fact real. So when you hear yourself asking whether you should make supper but find a million and one reasons to rather get take-aways, think of how simple it can be to make supper and how much better you would feel if you just did it.

Don’t get stuck in a rut

Generally when people go on a diet they start eating very plain food and very similar food on a daily basis. Although this is not wrong, it is not going to help you eat well long-term, as we all need to be nurtured through our food. So try new recipes and make interesting dishes. Just because you are cooking low fat and using healthy ingredients does not mean it needs to be tasteless and boring.

Have a good support structure

Get friends and family to help and support you, but remember to ask those who will be on your side and will make the changes to eating habits easier, not more difficult! It is important to have someone to talk to when you feel your "willpower" crumbles.  Having someone to team up with and be accountable to also makes the healthier habits of eating and exercising easier to stick to.

Expect setbacks

It happens to everyone! We all give into temptation from time to time. The important thing is to move on from it. No guilt needed! It is so common for people to immerse themselves in guilt and feel like they have "failed", resulting in continued overeating. Don’t let one set-back keep you from moving forward. Just start again the next morning, or the next meal if possible. And remember the 80:20 rule. You should try to eat well 80% of the time, and treat yourself occasionally too!

This article was written by Kim Hoffmann, registered dietitian of The Lean Aubergine Dietetic Services. To sign up for the monthly Lean Aubergine Dietetic Services newsletter, send an e-mail to Kim Hoffmann.

 - (Photo of winter girl from Shutterstock)

 
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