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How to make changes to your diet without feeling overwhelmed

January is often the time of year when we start thinking about making changes to our diet – whether that’s to lose some weight, to try and keep ourselves healthy or manage an existing health condition. But how many times do those changes actually last for the rest of the year?

Or how often do you read something about how diet can help conditions like endometriosis or PCOS but feel put off from trying it as it sounds too restrictive or like too much change to make when you are already feeling tired and unwell?

I know how you feel, I’ve been there too! When I first saw a nutritional therapist about my endometriosis, she suggested making massive changes to my diet all in one go. I was feeling so desperate to feel better at the time I did it, but it was really hard work. Supermarket shops ended up taking ages as I had to scrutinise the ingredients on everything I bought.

That’s why I’m not a massive fan of very restrictive diets or ‘New Year overhauls’ which involve living off juices for a month. I’m not denying that they can work for some people, but generally I find they are not sustainable for people long term and so whatever problem they were trying to deal with returns.

Instead, my approach is to make things manageable for people, so that they can incorporate diet changes into their lifestyle. Ultimately, I want it to become part of your usual routine rather than a ‘diet’ you are following so that eventually you have the tools to manage your own health condition or weight loss goals without my help.

Here are my top tips for making changes to your diet that are achievable:

  1. Remember your end goal

Think about why you want to make changes. Is it so you can have more energy so that you can go out and socialise at the weekends instead of lying on the sofa? Or do you want to reduce your pain levels so that you can get through the day at work more easily? Whatever the reason, hold on to your goal and write it down somewhere. This is what will keep you motivated when it all feels too difficult, or you just really want that packet of crisps. This is why you are making changes because this is how you are going to achieve your end goal. You are not doing this because you should or because your nutritional therapist or GP recommended it – you are doing it for you!

  • Take one step at a time

Some people thrive on making a lot of changes at once, but most people find it overwhelming. Think about how you deal with change and the type of approach that works for you. If you are already tired, stressed and in pain then start small and make gradual changes. Sometimes you need to start with just one thing rather than getting overwhelmed by the diet book you’ve just read. So just increase your water intake to 6 to 8 glasses or fluid a day. Or get an extra portion of vegetables in every day. These small changes really can make a difference.

  • Build on your changes

You started small and got an extra portion of vegetables in every day. Great job – celebrate your success! Once you’ve done this for a few days it probably feels quite easy. So now get a second extra portion of vegetables in a day. That will feel much more achievable than someone telling you to get an extra four portions of vegetable in a day.

  • Don’t feel overwhelmed

It’s easy to see posts on social media or read books on particular diets or ways of eating for health conditions and feel overwhelmed. Either it just feels too difficult or that other people are making more progress than you are. Don’t compare yourself to others – you are doing this in a way that works for you and that might be different to how someone else does it. You don’t have to change everything at once. Neither do you have to cook everything from scratch. That might be the ideal but sometimes it is just not realistic when you have a busy life. You can still find quick, healthy alternatives that you can buy in the supermarket.

  • Follow the 80-20 rule

Remember no one is perfect and you don’t have to follow your new way of eating all the time. It’s important not to make yourself feel bad if you do lapse – just carry on with a new slate the next day. Remember the 80-20 rule – as long as you eat healthily for 80% of the time, then 20% of eating different food or having a treat is not the end of the world. Obviously, it’s different if you have a food allergy or intolerance, but otherwise some flexibility is generally fine.

  • Get some help

Making changes can be hard, and it can be difficult to get motivated if you feel tired or have had a bad day. So, get someone to help keep you on track. Maybe that’s a friend or family member who knows what you are doing and either does it with you or just checks in on progress. Try to avoid people who you know will throw you off track for example by pushing you into having another alcoholic drink when they know you are trying to cut down. Or get some professional help from a nutritional therapist.

Having some one to one nutritional therapy sessions can help you come up with a nutrition plan that works for you and get you on the right track with making changes. We’ll spend time in sessions talking through your food likes and dislikes, how much time you have for cooking and your lifestyle so we can come up with a plan that is manageable for you and fits with your lifestyle. Regular sessions can help keep you motivated and keep you on track. And if for whatever reason you are struggling, we can find ways to make it easier – whether that’s recipe ideas, easy food swaps or quick meals you can buy in the supermarket.

Book in for a free hormone health review to talk through how we can make nutritional therapy help you achieve your health goals.

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog  are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Emma Belton Nutrition disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.

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