Are you looking to create a healthy diet that makes you feel awesome? Have you tried and failed to implement something lasting in the past or do you feel completely lost and unsure where to start? I feel ya. I used to think creating a lasting healthy diet that was simple, fun and fulfilling was practically impossible. But trust me, this is so doable. You’ve got this! And if you take the right steps everything will come together so much easier.
If you’re struggling to make a healthy diet work for you, here are 6 Reasons why it might not be working and easy ways to fix it.
Dieting Doesn’t Work Long Term
First and foremost, I want to highlight that when I use the words “healthy diet” I’m in no way talking about a frustrating, restrictive, calorie counting “diet”. I’m more interested in helping you build a healthy relationship with your food. One that includes feeding your body with kindness and, ultimately, supports your wellness… but doesn’t make you feel like you can’t eat anything or enjoy your favourite flavours.
Dieting is often strict, restrictive, frustrating and, you guessed it, temporary. When you’re counting points or calories and worried about minimizing macro-nutrients (like carbs, fat or protein) you’ll likely end up feeling incredibly limited and unfulfilled. This system certainly doesn’t build lasting healthy changes.
When it comes to those kinds of diets we usually end up right back where we started. They don’t help us build lasting healthy changes and they definitely don’t help us to create a loving relationship with ourselves (we’ll talk more on why that’s important later).
But, of course, creating something on your own can be really hard too. Just knowing where to start can feel overwhelming, even though it truly shouldn’t be. Knowing what to eat has become so incredibly complicated, but truly it should really be a simple, amazing, comforting and spiritual ritual that supports our health.
I’m sure that we all want a diet that supports our well-being and makes us feel awesome, right? It’s a no brainer. But we also want to avoid feeling restricted, lost, and overwhelmed. That’s just a recipe for failure.
If you’ve tried and failed to maintain a healthy diet, struggled for months only to find yourself waking up in a blur, covered in burritos and chocolate sauce, or wish to create one but can’t even imagine how you’d make it last, keep on ready baby! It’s actually totally possible to create a healthy diet that you adore. One that lasts, is flipping delicious, fulfilling, and fun.
Let’s talk about why a healthy diet might not be working and how to we can easily fix it.
1. You’re Doing It For the Wrong Reasons
So you want to eat healthy! Dude, that’s so great! But I want you to really think about why you’re doing this. If your answer is something like:
“I want to lose 10 lbs”
“I’d like to look like Giselle Bundchen”
“I need a banging bikini bod” (tangent – every body is a bikini body if you want to wear one <3)
Then I hate to be a party pooper… but this new healthy eating lifestyle probably won’t last.
Because all of those reasons are superficial.
If that’s your sole reason for creating a healthy diet, then this new foodie relationship is going to be unfulfilling and likely temporary.
The problem here is that all of those reasons are external. Healthy eating can definitely allow your body to find it’s way to a healthy weight. But if that’s you’re only goal, you’ll likely create some un-enjoyable dietary restrictions to get there. And you will probably go back to your old way of eating once you’ve met your goal.
That’s why diets don’t work. They’re meant to be temporary. Weight lost, goal achieved, back to the old habits. Does this happen to everyone? Of course note. But it’s fairly common… and there’s a reason for that.
Eating isn’t suppose to be stressful. It should never involve math. It’s not supposed to be unfulfilling and bland. And it shouldn’t make you feel insecure. Eating should be a simple, enjoyable and powerful way to support our well-being.
So how do we fix this and find the right motivation?
Let’s get down to the best reason to create a healthy diet. One that allows you to create everlasting, fulfilling dietary and lifestyle changes.
What’s that reason? Because you love yourself and you want to feed your body with kindness. Eating well will definitely help you look and feel your best. But when it comes from a place of self love, it’s far more long lasting.
You know that saying: Eat like you love yourself? That’s seriously the best foundation to build in order to create your ultimate, fulfilling and lasting healthy diet and lifestyle.
A true healthy diet is just about feeling your best. It’s simple. And there is no added pressure of losing pounds or inches. That may happen naturally after a while – but with your new intention, self love, you can breathe, work on letting go of those pressures and just enjoy healthy, delicious food. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
When you create a beautiful, accepting and loving relationship with yourself it’s easier to make lasting, healthy changes.
2. You’re Trying to Change Everything at Once
Man, I get it! Once I have my mind made up, I am all in! But changing your diet can be a little more complicated than just waking up one morning and deciding to change everything. You might be more successful if you ease into it.
There were even aspects of this whole healthy eating thing that I eased into. And, if you recall, I did a complete 180 for the sake of my health back in 2013.
I may have dove right in and said hello to tons of healthy food options I had never considered before (I used to call myself a veggie hater shockingly) but I wasn’t the intuitive eater I am today. For a while I would still snack on things like handfuls of cheddar popcorn and took my time moving on to pure peanut butter. It was hard to say goodbye to all that added sugar yo!
If I cut those little things out entirely day one I may have just gotten so frustrated that I would have quit. And then who knows what would have happened!
If you need to go cold turkey on something for your health – find healthier alternatives to the things you love asap so it’s a bit easier to make the change. Ask around at your local health food stores and wander around the internet for easy recipes. Change is far easier when it doesn’t feel so alien.
If you have no health woes to worry about, give yourself permission to ease into certain aspects of your transition. Otherwise, it’s super easy to get frustrated and fall back into old habits.
Say yes to tons of plants and, if you choose to be an omnivore, local, organic, ethically raised meat (that’s a whole other blog post, but if you eat meat, that is the only healthy way to go).
But remember to ease out of your guilty pleasures.
Slowly replace your foodie faves with healthier versions (here’s a Healthy Food Swaps Infographic to help you make some simple changes). Or experiment with healthier recipes along the way. But take your time making big changes.
For example, if you want to say goodbye to refined sugar find your favourite unrefined version (mine’s maple) and slowly incorporate it into your diet, replacing the refined stuff bit by bit.
Experiment with recipes and learn to create health supporting versions of guilty faves (things like ice cream and chocolate can totally be healthy). That way you’ll never feel like you’re missing out! Plus, no more guilt. Score!
Crowd out the bad and before you know it, you’ll have the healthy diet you set out to create. Without all of the frustration, withdrawals and hangry moments. Don’t pressure yourself into being 100% successful tomorrow. Change can take time. Baby steps are ok!
3. You’ve Bought into the idea that Healthy is Boring
Remember that sport or musical thing your parents put you into when you were a kid? The one that totally bored you to tears? You quit the moment you had the chance, didn’t you? Because nobody has time for constant boredom! If you’re bored, you are definitely not going to stick to something.
The same goes for your healthy diet. Salads everyday, all day? I love a good salad, but even I think that sounds awful. Unfortunately, this is what comes to mind for many when they think of healthy eating. Boo!
Should plants play a huge role in your daily meals? Heck yea! Does that mean chewing on leaves and making sad faces at pictures of pasta for the rest of time? No way! That sounds awful. I’ve already quit in my mind.
Healthy eating doesn’t mean saying goodbye to good food.
And it definitely doesn’t mean eating nothing but salads. Trust me when I say that you can get just as creative, or, dare I say, more creative, with healthy eating as you can with the Standard American Diet. And you never have to feel any of the guilt. Because you know that everything you’re consuming is loving you right back.
If you’d prefer to have a book in hand, there are tons of options at your local book store. Including Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen and The Oh She Glows Cook Book. Trust me, those recipes are anything but boring!
Healthy eating is as boring or exciting as you make it. If you’re bored, you need to spice things up my friend. The inspiration and recipes are out there. Go find them.
4. You Aren’t Food Prepping
A boy scout is always what? Prepared! And you should be too. Especially when you’re just starting out on this whole healthy eating adventure.
I’m an intuitive eater. Very rarely do I food prep. But was that my life from day one? Goodness no. And it shouldn’t be yours either.
I couldn’t trust early healthy diet Sara to understand what her cravings truly meant! She interpreted every single one as a demand for sweets. Being unprepared just doesn’t work when you’re transitioning. It takes time to really be in a place where you can eat intuitively.
And if your day is crazy busy and you have no food and no plan, you’re going to reach for the nearest quick and easy snack you can get your hands on. And quick often doesn’t equal healthy.
If you want a lasting, healthy diet… that just won’t do.
Enter food prep.
When you’re getting ready to get groceries, think about your schedule and make a plan. Things like:
Will it be easier and better for you if you have breakfast and lunch ready to rock and roll?
Are there snacks that you can make sure to have on hand, so you’re feeling energized, throughout the day?
Remember all those recipes you were looking at for foodie inspiration? Put some time aside so that you can create a few freezer friendly meals together. Get into easy breakfast ideas that you can make the night before, like chia pudding and overnight oats (check that out here). And find awesome snacks that you can keep on hand. Nuts, seeds and fruit can go a long way!
If good, filling, delicious, healthy food is right at your fingertips, then you won’t have to scramble for whatever’s nearby. Problem solved!
5. You’re Trying to Eat Foods that you Hate
We’ve got breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between, day in and day out… and if you hate everything you put on your plate, you are going to go mad! That’s no way to make a healthy diet work. No one wants to spend any more time than they have to with the things they hate. Screw that noise! It kind of works the same way for your diet.
Maybe you hate kale but feel like it needs to make a daily appearance on your plate since it’s so freaking popular. I personally love it, but that bitter curly leaf isn’t for everyone. And that’s ok. There are ways to eat healthy without it.
If you truly hate it, don’t force yourself to keep eating it.
There are so many other greens out there that you can enjoy! Spinach, arugula, collard greens, swiss chard, romaine… heck, there are even different types of kale to try (check out the lovely dino kale! That sucker is, in my opinion, marvelous).
The same goes for anything else you might not be into. Try new things, give it a shot and, if it truly isn’t jiving with your taste buds, give yourself permission to move on.
You may be thinking – but what if I hate vegetables in general… I know you kind of need to eat those to be healthy. What do I do about that?
My sweet friend… there is no way that you hate all vegetables. There are SO MANY out there. Even I have yet to try them all. And they are amazingly versatile. It’s all about experimenting with recipes and flavours. The recipes you work them into and the flavours you blend them with make a world of difference. Once you narrow it down and find the combos that you adore, you’ll be a veggie eating machine! But that doesn’t mean that you have to like all of them.
The same goes for everything else – approach your diet with an open mind and keep working towards building something that is nourishing and enjoyable. Don’t waste time on an unending blur of disgustingness.
6. You’re Copying Someone Else’s Diet/Lifestyle
I’m gluten, dairy and corn free, nearly refined sugar free and mostly organic local… but goodness! That doesn’t mean you have to be too. We have different bodies and different needs.
My dietary restrictions exist because this girl has Graves Disease, possible Celiac Disease (I tested positive for antibodies but decided to forgo the biopsy) and a very sensitive digestive system. I’ve listened, I’ve learned and I’ve adjusted. I’ve found a way to personalize my diet so that my body can thrive as best as possible. But that took a ton of time. And, the most important aspect, it all came together because I listened to my body.
You have to listen to your body if you want to create something awesome for yourself.
If you find yourself struggling to re-create someone else’s healthy diet (even mine), take a step back and re-examine why you’ve made these dietary changes. Are you consuming foods that make you feel awesome? Cutting out the things that drain you? Or are you struggling with changes and restrictions simply because it works for someone else?
If you’re living in the latter, it’s time to dedicate yourself to creating something that’s 100% yours. Your ultimate healthy diet.
Depending on the state of your health, you may need to food and symptom journal for a little bit to see what works. You may even need to give a temporary elimination diet a try. And, of course, work with your doctor or health care practitioner along the way.
But, if everything is working just fine, it may be as simple as feeding yourself with kindness and slowly making the big changes that work support your well-being.
Learn to love yourself enough to care about your health, listen to your won body and make dietary choices that will work best for you.
Explore new foods, cook and find ways to make healthy versions of your favourite treats (trust me, it’s very possible!) Make eating well a positive, creative and fun experience and ultimately part of your self love language. You deserve it!
And remember, dietary restrictions like gluten free or refined sugar free… that’s not the same thing as eating healthy. It might work amazingly for some, it may even allow them to thrive… but that doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Be patient with yourself and explore what makes you feel best. That’s the only thing that will work long term.
Have you created a lasting healthy lifestyle? What advice would you give to someone wishing to do the same? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: I am the ruler of my destiny – it is up to me to create my own path.