Most people begin a diet with more rules than they would have entering a marriage. When I help my patients change their diet, I tell them to relax and ease into the process. Changing your diet is like getting married and you don’t have to change everything overnight. It’s a process of change, and like all lasting marriages, that process takes time, patience, commitment and flexibility. So, here are my top four “marriage rules” for changing your diet.
When it comes to choosing a life partner, most people look at their options first before jumping into a long-term relationship. Use the same approach to choosing a diet. There are a lot of different diets out there and not every diet suits every person. Try some diets out without making a commitment to sticking to a specific one until it feels right and gives you the results you want. Don’t feel guilty about “breaking up” with your diet. If it wasn’t the right fit, it simply wasn’t the right fit. Date your diet before you marry it. If the first diet doesn’t work, move on guilt-free until you find the right diet for you.
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
If you enter a marriage with the expectation of being perfect, you would be able to stay married for about a month before it drives you insane. So, why be perfect with your diet? Aim to be imperfect and accept that this is a lifelong learning process. Take small steps in the beginning to reach small goals. Your initial success will fuel your motivation to continue to make changes. The first step may be to drink more water in place of sodas, rather than losing 30 pounds in a month. Think of who you and your partner were when you first got married versus who you are now – those changes didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t require either one of you to be perfect, right? When you set the bar to “perfect,” it becomes an “all or nothing” scenario, which leads to yo-yo dieting and a sense of failure. Have realistic expectations so that you are constantly succeeding at a pace that doesn’t require perfection. Perfection is hard. Small, persistent steps forward is easy and rewarding.
Spend Some Time Apart
Every healthy relationship requires some time away from each other and so does every healthy diet. You can’t be on a diet all the time, so spend one meal a week away from your diet. It will make you appreciate your diet even more and it satisfies those cravings that otherwise can sabotage even the best diets. Choose one meal a week and eat anything you want without a single thought about your diet. Indulge all your cravings in that one meal and the next day, you’ll feel excited about getting back to your faithful eating habits that make you feel healthy and energetic. Breaking an otherwise mundane eating routine with a “naughty” meal keeps the guilt out of dieting and allows you to appreciate the benefits of your regular, healthy food choices.
Celebrate Your Success
Sometimes when you get into a long-term relationship, you forget to celebrate the ongoing successes that continue to pop up. The same happens with a diet. Let’s say you lost those 30 pounds that you originally wanted off in the first year of changing your diet. How about celebrating your newfound energy level or the fact that you look 10 years younger? Keep celebrating your ongoing successes to keep your relationship with your diet interesting and passionate.