Beating the Diet Blahs

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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 body’s 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. Food’s purpose is to give you energy, so when you stop eating it, it’s 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. It’s easy to buy an item and separate it into individual servings when you have the storage bags or system handy. It’s 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 don’t have to measure to use them anymore. I’ve memorized their “fill line.” In that same respect, when I go out to eat, I think of dishes at home that I’m 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 don’t 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. That’s a much better message than the message that you’re keeping things away from yourself. Focus on the positive points of your choices. It’s 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 SparkPeople’s 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. Don’t 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?