What to do When Your Diet Fails

You read the latest book, bought the “right” foods and made sure to follow all of the rules, but you aren’t seeing the expected results. You think once again, “Why can’t I do this?” The more important question is: why isn’t the diet working for you? Before you throw in the diet towel and claim defeat, read on to see just why it was unsuccessful and how you are going to turn that “failure” into a triumph.

Orange-Roasted Carrots

The Diet Mismatch

Most of the time, when a diet doesn’t work, we consider it a failure, think about how we couldn’t do it. Many times, however, it is simply a diet mismatch–doomed from the start as an individual aligns themselves with the wrong diet partner.

Think about it. Did the diet require you to have a particular meal every day for lunch that can’t possibly be eaten at work? Or was it all about “meals” that come from boxes, bars or shakes? When we are following a diet that is an unnatural fit for us, we are sure to put an end to it as fast as possible, to get back to our “normal way” of life.

Bottom line: The diet you follow has to make sense for you and fit your lifestyle. If your diet “failed” because it didn’t seem to work for you, hang on to the pieces that did and customize it to create a plan that you will be successful at.

You’re Social: Your Diet was Not

How many times have you followed a diet that had you scared to eat out or dine at a friend’s house for fear they wouldn’t have anything you could eat? Put simply–this doesn’t work. Before you know it, you have days you are “on” and “off” your diet. Not only does this prevent momentum from being built, but it is unlikely to lead to positive results. If you align your new way of eating with being isolated and restricted to only certain foods (read: no carbs) then you are unlikely to view it as a long term diet relationship.

Bottom line: A successful diet embraces a variety of foods and teaches you how to enjoy those foods in the right portions, at the right times and for the right reasons. If there are foods that you just can’t seem to eat without overeating, ask yourself why.  Usually, it is the foods that we have labeled as “bad” that we want more of. When all foods are “in,” they lose the power to be so appealing.

You’ve Said Goodbye to Your Favorite Foods

It seems so simple and yet so many people make this mistake. In order to follow a healthful diet, they give up many of their favorite foods. The range of these foods is broad, but the thing they all have in common is that they are well-loved foods. Why would you think a complete and healthy life can exist without them? Your favorite foods need to be “in” or you will want to be “out.” Of course, this doesn’t mean you can eat all of your deeply desired foods every day, but it does mean that you can and should eat them…sometimes.

Bottom line: It comes down to your definition of a “healthful” diet. For me, it is a diet that is well balanced, enjoyable, makes you feel healthy and complete…and is enjoyable too. Too many people align a “healthful” diet with one that isn’t pleasurable and this leads to the moment when it’s rejected. Make room for your favorite foods, but acknowledge that if they are decadent, not heart-healthy or are indulgent then they shouldn’t be consumed every day.

By the Way…It’s not a Diet

If you don’t want to fail at a diet, don’t follow one. Push aside the diet books and stop buying the boxes, bars and shakes. Take a moment to evaluate your readiness. Consider if it is the right time for you to incorporate positive changes into your life and start there. Set realistic goals and begin working toward them; start small and you will no doubt be successful.

Bottom line: Too often we start a new diet simply because our friend is doing it or a media personality told us to. The missing key is often the critical self reflection on what makes sense for you and what you can benefit from changing. For example, if you hit the vending machine every afternoon or return to your company cafeteria for a cookie, that is a habit to change. If your daily beverage choice is calorie-loaded, it is worth working toward a goal that changes that. Your journey toward better eating is just that…a journey. View it as a new way of life rather than a diet and you will want to stay on your new path toward wellness.