Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just make healthier food choices, diet discipline is important. In my experience, diet discipline is what makes the difference when it comes to reaching your diet goals. When you have discipline you naturally end up having more motivation. However, in day-to-day life, it can sometimes seem hard to be disciplined with food, especially when you’re out for a meal or a birthday party, for example.
So, how can you be disciplined with your food? In this post, I’ll go over the tips and tricks I use to maintain diet discipline each day of the week.
1. Remember why you’re doing it
Over everything else, keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it. Why are you being disciplined with your food? Is it to be healthier? is it to be slimmer? is it to just challenge yourself? Remembering your why will make it easier to say no or to keep away from food that won’t help you achieve your goal.
2. Don’t feel bad if you fall off
It’s impossible to keep 100% diet discipline all year round. As mentioned, you’ll find yourself going to parties or nights out where the healthy option you’ve come to love isn’t available. It’s okay to fall off your diet once in a while. I need the experience of eating a burger every now and again. I find it keeps me motivated and it also reminds me of why I’m trying to stick to a certain eating pattern in the first place. When eating some junk food after being on a healthy eating plan for weeks, my stomach has its natural ways of telling me off.
Eating shouldn’t feel like a chore and besides, I think having something naughty every once in a while is a fun thing to do.
3. Focus on overall consistency, not perfection
Most people go into diets with a determined, rigid picture of what they need to do. However, as mentioned, you will more than likely find that you will fall off at some point. Instead of seeking perfection, accept you will have challenges along the way and instead focus on being consistent. For example, if you do go out for a meal for a party, remember it’s only a one-off and it’s not going to ruin your overall chances of reaching your goal. The most important thing is to get back to being disciplined with food the during following days.
As long as you don’t slide back into bad food habits, you’ll be fine. It’s the exact same thing as working out. If you don’t train for a week, it’s no big deal, as long as you get back down to it for the remainder of the month.
4. Eat the same things over and over
I’m at a point now where I eat the same things every day and I enjoy doing it. Whilst it sounds a bit boring, for me, it maintains diet discipline. I know exactly what I’m going to eat and I always end up enjoying it. Eating the same thing every day also takes away the anxiety of having to sort out my meals daily. It makes life so much easier if you prepare the same thing at the beginning of the week. I personally find it easier to eat the same lunches every day and then a small variety of dinners throughout the week.
When you’re at the store, bulk buy all the ingredients for your meals in one go and you’ll never have to stress about planning meals again.
5. Avoid temptations
Walking into any food store these days is like walking into a candy shop with all the bright colours that are designed to pull you in and make your mouth water. Admittedly, it can often be hard to stick to your pre-made list with all the distractions you face each time you turn down an aisle. Generally, food stores put all the junk food on the end of the aisles so it’s best to try and ignore them. I find it much easier to stick to the outskirts of my local store where all the fruit, vegetables and meats are stored.
If you find yourself being sucked into the colourful middle aisles, try and remind yourself of why you’re trying to eat a certain way. Will grabbing a bag of chips be helpful when it comes to reaching your goals? Make your life easy by only buying the foods that are on your list.
6. Challenge your impulses
If you manage to avoid temptations in the store, you should only have healthy food in your cupboards. When you’re feeling really tempted to eat junk food, ask yourself how you think you’ll feel after you’ve had it. For example, if you’ve got a bunch of natural ingredients to make meals in your kitchen but you feel like ordering a pizza because you don’t want to cook go back to how you felt the last time you did it.
In my experience, I usually feel a sense of guilt, I’m annoyed because I’ve spent a bunch of money I didn’t need to and I also feel discomfort in my stomach because those are the occasion where I’ll overeat. Not to mention, I feel all of these things even more the next day. Remembering this is usually enough to stop me from taking the easy option in the first place.
7. Go back to basics
When I was a kid, ordering a pizza was a rare treat that was done once a month. It was an exciting thing to do because it was so rare. As I’ve grown up and been able to order my own food, this special treat has become less and less a special occasion. In fact, for many, it’s become an almost daily thing to do – something normal. I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where my parents cooked fresh food 99% of the time.
Fast food is like social media, with flashy commercials that are designed to grab your attention and normalise ordering in. One thing that helps me to keep diet discipline is remembering that ordering in several times a week is not normal. It’s an addiction that makes you want to keep coming back for more and more. Every time you eat junk food you get a brief hit of dopamine that keeps you coming back, just like any addiction.
If you keep this at the front of your mind and persist with real, natural foods, it’s much easier to keep diet discipline whilst making eating junk much more fun when you have it once in a blue moon.
8. Be your own parent
When it comes to food, you’re the only one that gets to decide what you eat and what you put in your own mouth. Treat yourself as your own parent. When you go to reach for something like a pack of doughnuts, think about what you would say to yourself if you were your own parent or better still, what you might say if your child wanted to eat a whole pack of doughnuts. More often than not, you’d take the pack away from them and explain why it’s not a good idea to eat them all.
9. Don’t wait for motivation
Don’t wait around for motivation to be the trigger for you to start being disciplined with your food. Motivation only comes once you’ve started and seen results, not at the beginning of your journey. For example, when you see your belt become looser you’ll get a wave of motivation that will make you want to keep going. That sense of motivation will come and go depending on how you feel, one day you may wake up happy and motivated, another you might wake up tired and fed up.
However, it’s your diet discipline that you get to control which is why it’s so important not to rely on motivation. Even if you don’t feel like sticking to your diet, you can use the other tips on this list to stay disciplined.
10. Identify your triggers
Identifying your junk food triggers will help you to become more disciplined. For example, my junk food cues have always been when I’ve got in tired from work, out on a night out, after I’ve been drinking and when I haven’t eaten enough. What usually triggers you into making bad food choices? It could be a time or a place, for example like my triggers.
Once you have identified your triggers you can then start to eliminate them or at least decrease the number of them. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever go for a night out with your friends but it might mean that you end up going for two nights out a week instead of four, for example.
If you make bad food choices when you’ve been drinking, drinking less frequently could have a knock-on effect on helping you make better food choices. Think about the things that usually end up making you eat poorly and tackle them first.
11. Replace bad habits
Replacing the habits that cause you to make bad food choices with better habits will help you to reach your goals much sooner. For example, if you usually go out on a Friday night, try staying home and working out. You’ll no doubt end up drinking more water and won’t feel like eating junk. In fact, you’ll be more likely to eat something filling and healthy to fuel your muscles. Each healthy habit you try and develop will feed into other healthy habits that complement each other and over time they will help your diet discipline levels increase across the board.
If you usually drink a soda with your dinner, try and drink a pint of water. Make this switch one day a week to begin with until you’ve normalised it and then you can start to add it into more days of the week. You don’t have to change everything in one go. Once you’ve instilled enough good habits like this into your daily life you’ll be much less likely to make bad food choices that affect your good habits in a negative way.
Once you have more good diet habits than bad diet habits, your diet discipline won’t be something you’re trying to do anymore, you’ll just be disciplined through habit and it will seem much easier to stick to your new diet without much effort at all.