Here’s some diet help to move you out of stuck.
Ever have one of these thoughts?
“Is this diet going to work?”
“Is it even healthy?”
“How am I going to be able to stick with this week after week?”
Taming your weight loss worries can mean the difference between reaching your goal and staying stuck.
Whether your goal is to drop 100+ pounds or the last 10, we’re all looking for that edge that will get us where we want to be faster and better.
No matter if you’re a diet newbie or a seasoned dieting vet; we all have doubts, fears, and worries.
Left unchecked, your fears drop you into the action dead zone. You start to analyze every food, second-guess every diet decision, and put off any activity for fear of doing the wrong thing.
You’ll never remove every doubt and fear, but you can quiet them to create fast and consistent results on the scale.
That’s what you’ll learn here. I’ve listed 10 top worries that all dieters feel and offer diet help for each with the tips and tricks you need to get them under control.
Diet Help Quick Guide
I’ve created a quick-click guide to save you some time. You can use the links below to jump to your most pressing concern. If you seem to have every worry on the list, start at one.
- Will This Diet Ruin My Fun?
- How Do I Get Started?
- Am I Eating The Right Things?
- How Do I Lose Weight Without Starving?
- Is This Diet Working?
- Why Am I So Unmotivated?
- Is All Of This Effort Worth It?
- Will I Gain The Weight Back?
- Am I Addicted to Food?
- Will People Take Me Seriously?
- BONUS: Am I Really Ready To Start A Diet?
1. Will This Diet Ruin My Fun?
When you get together with your friends, food is a big part of the fun.
But now you want to go on a diet, and you have a big fear…
“Will this diet interfere with my relationships and make me a downer to be around?”
Going on a diet means that you have to handle certain situations differently, which can bring on a lot of anxiety.
The anxiety that you feel when you go on a diet is one of the ways your brain tries to protect you from change.
Change is scary, so your mind tries to convince you that dieting isn’t worth it by stirring up anxious thoughts.
Your brain comes up will all types of excuses for why now is a lousy time to diet.
“You can’t go on a diet, so-and-so will hate you for it!”
“You want to go on a diet during the summer? What about all of the picnics!”
Diet Help #1: My suggestion for moving past this anxiety is to say hello to your stinkin’ thinkin’.
Whenever an excuse or negative thought pops in my head, I simply say to myself, “Oh, there’s that thought again.”
It seems too simple, but it works.
Scary thoughts like to live in dark places. When you acknowledge the thought, it’s like shining a light on it; the scariness fades away, and you regain control of your emotions.
With your emotions in check and your destructive thought defused, you can make better choices and see other options that are available.
For example, instead of meeting your friend for ice cream, the two of you could go on a search for the perfect coffee shop.
So the next time you hear an anxious thought in your head, say hello to it. You’ll feel calmer and your mind will open up to new, fun solutions.
2. How Do I Get Started?
A friend of mine once said,
“There’s only four bad times of the year to start a diet: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.”
Conditions are never ideal to start a big project. Whether your goal is to earn a college degree, save for retirement, or lose weight, at some point you have to say, “I’m ready enough.”
A favorite saying of highly productive people is…
“Ready, Fire, Aim”
In other words, when you know enough, pull the trigger and get started. As long as you stay committed, the next step will become clear.
Look, if you want to run a 5K race, you can spend a few weeks searching for the perfect training schedule and watching YouTube videos on proper form, but that’s not going to prepare your body for the run.
If you continue to search for the perfect plan, you’ll do a lot of research and make zero progress.
Diet Help #2: My advice for reforming a poor diet is to attack it from both extremes:
-The worst foods for your diet are sugars.
-The best foods for your diet are vegetables.
As I share in my 4 Daily Habits That Give Your Body No Choice but to Lose Weight, you want to cut out foods that have sugar as one of their top three ingredients and increase your veggie intake by eating a daily salad.
My 4 habits are a great way to start. Go ahead and get busy with them and before long your fear will melt away.
3. Am I Eating The Right Things?
There’s nothing more demoralizing than committing to a diet, and then realizing that you’re eating the wrong things.
As one of my followers mentioned:
“There seems to be a lot of conflicting information about what’s healthy and what’s not.”
Blame it on deceptive packaging, food manufacturer conspiracy, or Internet soundbites; the reality is that making the right food choices for weight loss can leave you scratching your head.
Diet Help #3: My suggestion is to keep your dieting rules simple.
One good rule is to omit processed foods.
In his book, In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan states that a food item is too highly processed if it has more than five ingredients listed on its package.
Obviously, there are exceptions to Pollan’s rule, but by keeping simple rules like this in your head, it will help make your food choices easier.
4. How Do I Lose Weight Without Starving?
There are two sides to this worry.
– Fear of hunger
– A desire to stop eating until the weight is off
When I was in high school, I was scheduled for the late lunch. The class before lunch was agony, and I would get so hungry that my stomach would growl loudly. It was embarrassing.
That experience left me with a heightened fear of hunger, so the thought of dieting and cutting back on how much I was eating felt scary.
You might feel differently. Instead of fearing hunger, you embrace it.
You are so tired of being overweight that you wish you could just stop eating for a few months and get to your goal pronto.
Whichever side of the fence you fall on, the problem is a need for control.
Hunger is simply a natural reminder from your body that it’s done processing what you last fed it.
Starvation is a sure way to screw up your metabolism, just look at all the bad press The Biggest Loser has been getting lately.
You don’t have to starve, and you don’t have to live with constant hunger.
Diet Help #4: My suggestion is to eat “anti-hunger” foods.
To qualify as an “anti-hunger” food, the food must either…
- physically fill you up or…
- biochemically fill you up
Receptors in your digestive system shut down hunger in two ways.
1. When the walls of your stomach are physically stretched, hunger is shut off.
2. When there are many nutrients (biochemicals) passing through your digestive tract, hunger is shut off.
The good news is that the best “anti-hunger” foods are also the best weight loss foods.
Vegetables are at the top of the list. They are packed with nutrients, yet very low in calories.
Beans are also great. Their fiber and nutrients give them the staying power needed to ward off hunger.
Nuts and Seeds are “anti-hunger” food but need to be eaten in smaller portions. They have hunger-fighting, healthy fats, but due to their calories, you should limit them to a tablespoon or two a day.
5. Is This Diet Working?
“I’m so tired of trying so hard and nothing to show for it.” -Survey Participant
You did really well this week. You stuck to your diet and exercised each day.
You step on the scale eagerly anticipating your reward, and…WHAT! You gained a pound!
It’s hard to be patient on a diet, and it doesn’t help that your level of effort isn’t always matched by the number change on the scale.
Your body is like a big water tank. About 60% of your body is water and water has weight.
When you diet and exercise the amount of water in your body fluctuates.
- Different foods hold more or less water
- Muscle repair after exercise causes temporary water retention.
Because body water always goes up and down, the scale is not always the best way to measure your progress.
There are other ways to measure how you’re doing. Measure your inches, blood pressure, heart rate, and body fat percentage.
Diet Help #5: My suggestion for the best way to show your progress is to visit your closet.
Find a pair of jeans or a favorite outfit that is a bit too tight and make it your goal to fit into it. Once those clothing items fit, it’s a sure sign you’ve slimmed down regardless of what the scale says.
6. Why Am I So Unmotivated?
I am so miserable. Have yoyo dieted my whole long life. Can accomplish many great things in my life but am a horrible fat failure. I would give anything to feel good about my weight and health also. –Survey Participant
Can you relate?
You can rattle off a line of successes in your life. You have a good career, good relationships, good grades, but when it comes to controlling your weight…forget about it.
There’s no question that sticking with a diet requires motivation. However, most people don’t understand where motivation comes from.
They think motivation is something they must go out and find when in reality, motivation grows from beliefs you hold inside.
My grandparents were married for 73 years. My parents have been married for 56 years.
Because of their wonderful examples, I believe marriage is worth it, so I’m motivated to work through problems in my own marriage when they arise. As a result, my husband and I will be celebrating our 23rd year of marriage this July.
Diet Help #6: If you feel unmotivated to lose weight, then you need to check your beliefs. One exercise I like to do in my weight loss coaching program is the following one-word quiz.
Are you ready?
Using only one word, describe your body.
Your answer reveals a hidden belief. Was your answer good or bad? Did you call yourself fit or fat?
If your answer was negative, then you need to do a bit of reprogramming.
The easiest way is with a mantra. Mantra is a loaded word, and for some, conjures up hippy or new age images, but you don’t need to go overboard.
Think of a mantra as a brief pep talk that you repeat over and over again.
For example, if your answer to the one-word quiz was fat, then your mantra can be, “I’m fit.”
Your brain will fight you for the first few weeks, but with repetition, this new thought will take root, and it will subconsciously guide you toward better eating decisions.
You can say a mantra silently to yourself, so what do you have to lose?
7. Is All Of This Effort Worth It?
When I was 50 pounds overweight, I was very good at coming up with excuses about why dieting was a bad idea.
One of my favorites was telling myself that life was unpredictable, “What if I die next week,” I’d tell myself, “I don’t want to spend my last week of life suffering through a diet!”
What that thought revealed (no, it’s not a mental illness) was a strong negative association to dieting.
We are all human. Therefore, we like to do things that we enjoy, and we avoid things we dislike.
Diet Help #7: To be successful at weight loss, I needed to think differently.
I started to focus on how I felt after I ate.
I noticed that when I binged on sugar (I was big on Tootsie Pops and could eat five of them in a row), I would get lightheaded to the point where I would need to stop and steady myself for a few minutes until the flashing lights left my vision.
After a few weeks on a healthy eating diet, I noticed that my stomach wasn’t bloated, and I could start to see my muscles, which was cool. [Note that the first week of a healthy diet you might have some sugar withdrawal, which is a temporary bad feeling.]
This focus on how I felt after eating made me want to eat better because I felt better. That feeling snowballed. Today, the thought of a junk food binge is very unappealing.
Bottom Line: don’t quit before the reward shows up.
8. Will I Gain The Weight Back?
“After I lost the weight I rested on my laurels/the compliments–the lbs. started creeping back but I said, “I’ll get back on track tomorrow–and tomorrow kept moving further away.” – Survey Participant
The statistics aren’t great.
Many people gain the weight back after losing it, and this yo-yo routine can be bad for your health.
Maintaining weight loss requires your attention, but it should be much easier than taking the weight off. And it is…if you worked on your mindset as you shed the pounds.
Behaviors are driven by thoughts. It’s a simple equation…
Thoughts —> Behaviors —> Results
Diet Help #8: If you want different results, you need to create new thoughts.
New thoughts can grow by developing a healthy mantra, as I discussed earlier, but to really find freedom, you need to create a new weight loss mindset.
9. Am I Addicted to Food?
You wake up thinking about food.
Your boss is making an important point, but you can’t stop thinking about the box of donuts behind him.
You tell yourself that you’ll eat just one chip, but instead, you eat the whole bag.
You’re worried…”Am I addicted to food.”
Certain foods, particularly sugars and refined carbohydrates create a dopamine rush in your brain that is similar to the response a drug addict experiences.
There’s little doubt within the scientific community that food addiction is real, and can lead to binge eating. But, there is a surprising, and unexpected twist for those who identify as a food addict.
A study was performed to see how a person’s food addiction beliefs influenced their eating.
Participants were given a survey to evaluate their level of food addiction but then given faulty results.
Those who were told they had a high susceptibility to food addiction went on to consume fewer calories than those told they had low or medium levels.
This finding shows that beliefs play a role in food addiction. And that’s good news because…
Food does not have the power, your mind does.
Diet Help #9: Start questioning your beliefs. Byron Katie has a free worksheet that walks you through how to do it. She calls it The Work and I do it all of the time.
10. Will People Take Me Seriously?
“Here she goes again.”
“Oh, come on honey; just have a small piece of cake.”
“You don’t need to diet, you’re thin enough.”
Change is hard for others as well as you.
People get used to you the way you are, and your changes can be uncomfortable for them.
So, when you decide to change, you can be met with disbelief, skepticism, or sabotage.
It can be uncomfortable having to explain your new food choices when you’re committed to a diet.
If you’ve failed at diets in the past, or you’ve joked about your weight in the past, it can feel like you’re swallowing your pride when you go on a diet.
It helps if you’re part of a program and know that others are going through the same things you’re going through, but ultimately change is a personal determination
Diet Help #10: My advice is to feel the fear and do it anyway.
People will adapt to the new you when you stick to your guns, but you have to earn it. That’s fine…you can do it.
BONUS: Am I Really Ready To Start A Diet?
It doesn’t matter if you are entering your first diet or your twentieth; anyone who has ever felt the determination to lose weight has felt the pangs of worry.
No one goes from a junk food eater to a healthy dieter with the flip of a switch. There are always thoughts that pop into your head that make you doubt your choices.
“Am I eating right?”
“Am I missing something?”
“Is this going to work?”
So how do you guarantee that you’re starting a diet the right way?
The ultimate solution is to have a coach.
We all benefit from a coach who has been through the process before and can keep us on the path to success.
I’ve been coached in many areas of my life, and it’s always saved me time and frustration and lead to bigger results than I could have gotten on my own.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.