Beating the Diet Blahs

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/6/2011 2:13 PM   :  42 comments   :  14,735 Views

By Beth Donovan aka ~Indygirl

Before joining SparkPeople, whenever I started a new "diet," I ended up feeling sluggish, tired and grumpy! I felt hungry, headachy, and blah. Was this my bodyís way of telling me something? Was this just a natural response to cutting back? Why did I feel so bad if what I was doing was supposed to be so good for me?

Extreme diets can cause a blah, tired and headachy feeling for some people. This might be due to cutting back on the sugar, white flour or caffeine to which the body has become quite accustomed. Another cause for the discomforts you may experience when first dieting, is that you might be cutting back too much or eliminating a whole food group. Cleanses that rid your body of toxins can make you feel blah, as well. Most often, these symptoms are temporary and occur when just starting out on the program. The problem is, that once off the program, you have to go back on it to maintain weight loss and the diet blahs are there waiting for you.

Instead of something extreme, why not try for progress not perfection? Why not give up diets and choose a healthy lifestyle instead? Not eating enough calories can actually hurt your body and hinder your weight loss efforts by slowing your metabolism. Foodís purpose is to give you energy, so when you stop eating it, itís no wonder you feel tired and lethargic. Progress can be as simple as switching from ordering large to ordering medium or small. If you take sugar in your coffee, try going sugar free or using stevia. Tweaking your eating plan is a painless way to make changes in things you will hardly miss. Tweak a thing or two, then a thing or two more until you are losing weight. Actually, you may be amazed how fast that can happen!

Considering proper portion sizes and timing make a big difference in the diet blahs. Measure food portions to make sure you are really getting the right serving sizes. Remember food gives you energy, so eating a mini meal every 4 hours or so is not a bad idea. It keeps your blood sugar stable and keeps you from feeling too hungry.

What should a healthy meal consist of? I have a favorite dailySpark blog by Tanya Jolliffe that I refer to when I need help.

To get your portion sizes under control, here are a few things you can do: Set up your kitchen to be ready for food start to finish. We often just concentrate on food being cooked and on the table. We need to have our kitchens set up and ready with proper size freezer bags, snack bags, measuring cups, a scale, small plates and bowls, and storage ware. Itís easy to buy an item and separate it into individual servings when you have the storage bags or system handy. Itís also easier to make batches of food or save leftovers, rather than eat them if you can freeze them right away. Having small plates and bowls you feel proud serving family with or at least eating on yourself will make a difference in your attitude toward using them on a regular basis. I made my small dishes my regular ones. The big plates are for special occasions. I also have glasses that I have measured liquids out into, so I donít have to measure to use them anymore. Iíve memorized their ďfill line.Ē In that same respect, when I go out to eat, I think of dishes at home that Iím familiar with to gauge a serving size of something.

Move a little bit. Even if it is a very little bit, everyone needs to move. Getting some daily exercise helps strengthen your resolve, burn some calories, build some muscle, and keep the blues at bay. Exercise has been shown to fight depression by enhancing brain chemistry, which definitely puts a cramp in the diet blahs. Even if you donít feel like it at first, once you get started exercising, you can put in five to ten minutes. Being outdoors with nature even adds a secondary boost to your brain chemistry. Sunlight has natural cheering properties, as well. So, if you take your workout outside, you will get a double dose of blah fighters.

See yourself as a healthy eater, not a dieter. Thinking of yourself as a dieter only makes you feel deprived. Not many of us get off the hook where dieting and exercise are concerned. Most of us have to work at it and make healthy choices. Seeing yourself as a healthy eater sends a positive message to yourself, that you are nurturing yourself. Thatís a much better message than the message that youíre keeping things away from yourself. Focus on the positive points of your choices. Itís hard to feel blah when you reframe things in a positive light.

Choose things you like often. If you have favorite recipes, look up light versions on SparkRecipes. Try different versions until you find one that suits your palate. Look up different restaurants on SparkPeopleís Dining Out Guide and plan a meal ahead for the day. That way you can be sure to plan the rest of the day around the meal you really want to enjoy. Donít forget that you can split the meal, order appetizers for the meal, or box half up and take it home for your next meal so you can enjoy it again. Variety will keep the diet blahs away, as well. You can do it this time, one healthy choice at a time.

These tactics have helped me lose more than 130 pounds on SparkPeople! They can work for you as well!

What do you do to keep your eating habits from getting stale and boring?


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Comments

  • 42
    I love ALL your blogs Beth, I get so much out of each one, plus each one is jam packed, plus YOU HAVE BEEN THERE; I so appreciate your blogs and hope you write many, many more!! - 3/3/2011   4:38:02 PM
  • 41
    I try to make the food look as appetising as possible when at home. I often arrange salads in pretty patterns and then take photos as if for a foodie magazine - it makes it seem much more appealing somehow! The effort made helps to make the meal a 'special' occasion, always to be eaten at the table, away from all distractions. - 1/23/2011   2:08:54 PM
  • 40
    The phrase "progress not perfection" might have just saved me on this journey. I was getting so frustrated. I was totally feeling blah and then feeling guilty about it. Knowing it's just part of the process for some people encourages me. - 1/18/2011   9:27:27 PM
  • CHEYENNE173
    39
    Thanks - 1/9/2011   10:19:26 PM
  • 38
    Thanks for sharing ... you had some wonderfully helpful tips that will help me stay on track as I continue on my journey to a healthy new me! Again, thanks for your encouragement! - 1/9/2011   2:40:40 PM
  • 37
    Beth, you continue to be an inspiration. Thanks for sharing the common sense things we know, but often forget. - 1/9/2011   2:26:36 PM
  • PJSLIFE
    36
    This article was good timing. I just started eating healthy on Monday of this week and have been feeling very tired. I was thinking of holding off on excercise, thinking maybe my body needed some time to adjust. It was good to read that not everything needs to happen at once. Lot's of times I try to do all or nothing and the nothing got me to where I am now.
    - 1/8/2011   1:25:39 AM
  • ETHELMERZ
    35
    I take 3 days a month "off", and save those days for any special foods that I want, sometimes they are not as good tasting as I thought they would be, so I can cross them off my list of "temptations". - 1/7/2011   9:47:45 PM
  • 34
    I never have a problem. - 1/7/2011   7:51:43 PM
  • DELIGHTFULDEE3
    33
    I like the term healthy eating instead of dieting. I have a scale that counts the number of grams or lbs. I also cut back on my portions. The smaller plate is a good ideal. I do not drink soda's, mostly water with lemon or Crystal lite single packets that you add to your water. I also like different herbal teas, like peppermint (is good for stomach problems), green tea, chamomile & mint is very relaxing. I'm also starting to eat more fruit throughout the day. I will keep in mind your suggestions. - 1/7/2011   6:36:15 PM
  • 32
    Definitely like the "healthier eater, not a dieter" comment. I'll use that when I feel like I want to eat a dinner made of chocolate cake. Those of us who have grown up being on a diet DO associate that with deprivation. Thanks for a suggestion of how to look at how we are eating now in a more positive way. - 1/7/2011   1:38:22 PM
  • 31
    Great, simple steps for anyone who is trying to be successful! - 1/7/2011   11:30:12 AM
  • 30
    I find it easier to make the lifestyle change by offering a variety of foods. Then you are not bored with the same types of meals and foods. Change it up and plan ahead for new and exciting eats. - 1/7/2011   11:09:02 AM
  • 29
    Strive for Progress instead of Perfection.....I like that! it applies to so much more than our diets. - 1/7/2011   10:52:10 AM
  • 28
    My DH is the cook in the family and he's often deployed which he is now. Altho he makes meals ahead of time for me (sad, isn't it?), Because there is just me, I eat the same thing over and over again rather than waste it. Then I crave something like Chinese food just for variety but then eat it for 3 meals until it is gone. BORING. - 1/7/2011   10:45:47 AM
  • GAARAMA
    27
    Great article,I use SparkRecipes keep the boredom out of my meals. - 1/7/2011   10:20:20 AM
  • 26
    Beth - I always love your blogs. They are so inspiring AND informative. You help people realize that small steps make a BIG difference.
    - 1/7/2011   10:03:51 AM
  • PAMROPER
    25
    ~Indygirl: I love your writing. This is so easy to understand - you make it so common sense and doable. Like it's no big deal instead of a mountain I'm planning to climb. Thank you so much :) - 1/7/2011   9:59:07 AM
  • 24
    Thank you once again for an uplifting and informative blog. Congrats on your continued success and for inspiring others. It is appreciated very much! - 1/7/2011   9:54:20 AM
  • 23
    I love your blogs, they are always so full of information and tips. Thank you so much!!!! - 1/7/2011   9:36:25 AM
  • LUCKY_PENNY
    22
    My family uses either 9-inch plates or divided plates. The divided ones make portions pretty easy. There is one section that is half the plate (for veggies), and the other 2 sections each take up a quarter of the plate (protein and carbs). Plus if you're a weirdo like me that hates my food touching on the plate, this is awesome! :-) - 1/7/2011   9:27:44 AM
  • THINAGIN3
    21
    My remedy for those blah days is to find a new recipe and make it! I love to spend time in my kitchen and find that this is good 'kitchen therapy'. Even if the recipe may not be diet friendly, I will change it by adding, subtracting, replacing until it becomes diet friendly. When you learn how to 'lighten up' your foods, there is no end to the possibilities! Sure, I've had some failures, but I've also had some very good meals. - 1/7/2011   9:06:24 AM
  • 20
    Yes this is a great place to start especially, as for me, Learning portion control. Still need to figure out what can fill you so your not muching all night long. Shutting off that voice that says you need to eat, even when your full has been a challenge I struggle with. Again thanks for the information - 1/7/2011   8:50:37 AM
  • RDNCKMOMI
    19
    I think that your ideas are great, and can really help us new "Sparkies" ! lol - 1/7/2011   8:40:34 AM
  • 18
    Great advice, especially to all the newbie Sparkies joining this month! :) - 1/7/2011   7:47:15 AM
  • 17
    I LIKE THE IDEA OF THE SMALL PLATE
    - 1/6/2011   11:23:15 PM
  • 16
    I try new things to keep my interest in a healthy eating plan including new recipes, new fruits and vegetables, new spices. Some are a hit and some are a miss but I am expanding my list of food options each month. - 1/6/2011   9:11:41 PM
  • ANNAMARIE52
    15
    progress not perfection! this is a REAL keeper. Thank you! - 1/6/2011   8:00:21 PM
  • 14
    Most people say I am going on a diet. Which means they go off it when they lost the weight they wanted to. And then it all come right back on. So yes it is about a life style change. Yes it can be done......It is doable. - 1/6/2011   7:07:05 PM
  • 13
    Great blog. I hate the word diet and I think that is how I got to the point I was at a few months ago. I knew I needed to lose weight, but I did not want to go on a diet. Since learning how to eat healthy and how much good exercise does, I am down 49 pounds! I feel great and I eat a lot! Most of my foods are fresh, so I can eat a lot more. - 1/6/2011   4:50:17 PM
  • 12
    Portion control is hard to adjust to. But i am trying very hard to measure out foods and I find that if i do so, and have a variety of food to eat, I am full and satisfied! This is what I want--I do not want to diet. Healthy eating all the way! - 1/6/2011   4:47:53 PM
  • 11
    Understanding the size of a "portion" is definitely important. I try to use my fist as a good model for a portion. - 1/6/2011   4:37:53 PM
  • 10
    The food scale has really helped me get realistic about portions. - 1/6/2011   4:21:03 PM
  • 9
    i love the "healthy eater, not a dieter" part for sure. i feel that promotes more of a life change than a means to an end. - 1/6/2011   4:08:33 PM
  • 8
    I really like your suggestions and especially the one about smaller storage bags and plates. Nice blog! - 1/6/2011   3:57:30 PM
  • 7
    I really like your suggestions and especially the one about smaller storage bags and plates. Nice blog! - 1/6/2011   3:57:30 PM
  • 6
    Many good points. Look forward to more motivation from you. Thanks - 1/6/2011   3:47:49 PM
  • ARIZONAHIKER
    5
    "Progress, not Perfection" This is totally going on my vision board. Great article!! - 1/6/2011   3:14:58 PM
  • 4
    According to Ann Louise Gittleman Stevia Plus is better than Stevia.
    I am going to work on reducing processed foods. I do great for a while and then I fall back into bad habits of eating too much sodium. I am going to focus on less salt. And I've started a new exercise streak. My last one lasted 109 days! - 1/6/2011   2:47:22 PM
  • 3
    When I first started SparkPeople, I bought new, smaller plates for my whole family. It has helped me learn how to "see" a real portion. And because they are cute, I love to use them! - 1/6/2011   2:45:43 PM
  • 2
    Good suggestions. By this time last year I'd lost more than 180 lbs with these kind of ideas, so I can also attest to their efficacy. And I'm having to return to them to get back down to my goal weight after some slippage. :-o

    Another one I'd recommend is paying attention to your macronutrient ratios. I personally do much better on a high protein, low fat menu. I had to play around with the ratios to figure this out. If I don't get 120-140 g of protein per day I feel hungry.

    It wasn't HOW MUCH (or little) I was eating that made me feel tired and hungry, as much as the KINDS of things.

    - 1/6/2011   2:45:12 PM
  • 1
    All good suggestions! I followed some of these on my journey to a healthier lifestyle and it works! - 1/6/2011   2:39:28 PM

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