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Ep. 16 – Diet gone off track? Here’s how to manage slip ups and relapses

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Welcome to the sixteenth episode of Vegetarian Health and Longevity from Hurry The Food Up and Sports Nutritionist James LeBaigue.

Sometimes, despite best efforts, weight loss attempts and diets can go wrong. You can be doing fantastically… And then – BAM! Life throws a curve ball.

It can feel so frustrating, demotivating and unfair, and it can be difficult to manage. If you’re unlucky, it can spell the start of a spiral into following old dietary habits which got you to where you didn’t ever think you would be.

In this episode, I talk through the ways that I help 1:1 clients manage their diets and how they can bring things back if things don’t work out quite as they planned.

And once they have got things back under control, how do they keep it there and prevent it from happening again in the future?

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A Couple of Weekends Ago

A couple of weekends ago I was at a birthday party, and a friend of mine came over to me and seemed really upset.

I asked her what the problem was, and she said that she’d been trying really hard to lose weight and had been sticking to her diet plan, but she’d eaten quite a lot of cake at the party and was worried it had thrown her calories out.

I told her, well, you’ve ruined it then haven’t you? You might as well just go and eat more cake and not worry about your diet today because you’ve messed it all up. I also told her she should feel ashamed for not sticking to her plan.

How does that make you feel hearing that? My guess is probably angry or annoyed, and maybe you even thought about stopping the episode here.

Weight Loss Isn’t Linear

Well, that didn’t actually happen and I didn’t tell my friend that. But there’s a powerful lesson in this in how it made you feel, and it’s super important to consider the message in relation to your diet, how you treat yourself, and how to get back on track if things don’t quite go to plan.

We’re going to cover all this in today’s podcast episode, as well as what NOT to do, because unfortunately lots of people take completely the wrong approach and it can be really harmful.

So yeah, before you worry, that story at the start didn’t actually happen and I didn’t tell my friend that she should ignore her diet because she’d ruined it.

But I think it’s a fantastic way to highlight one of the key messages which I’d like to talk about in today’s episode which is all about how to get your diet back on track if it hasn’t quite gone to plan, essentially how to manage slip ups or relapses.

Start with Acceptance

One of the things I regularly talk with our members at HTFU about is that usually, weight loss isn’t linear. By that, I mean it is really unlikely that you’ll lose weight in a steady fashion, week after week, without any slip ups, weight regain, or plateaus.

What usually happens is you’ll lose weight for a week or two, then it might go up slightly or not budge, and then it’ll come back down again.

The key is managing those periods where things don’t go quite as smoothly, because they’re stressful to manage and can be a real mental challenge.

When you don’t see the scales move it can be hard to stay on track because you aren’t seeing the reward for all your hard work.

As well as that, it’s common for people to not stick to their diet plan in an exact fashion. So over at HTFU, we have weekly weight loss meal plans where we do all the planning for you, and we encourage our members to stick to them after making any changes to suit their preferences.

But sometimes, that might not happen. Maybe you go out to dinner, or you go to a party and eat some cake.

How to Stop It from Happening Again

Maybe you eat a lot of cake. Often, the next feeling is regret and disappointment, followed by a “fuck it” attitude where the rest of the day, or maybe even the rest of the week, goes out the window.

Before you know it, it feels pretty much impossible to get things back under control and you’re left wondering how you were ever managing to stick to your diet in the first place.

I recently spoke with one of my 1:1 clients about weight loss strategies and long-term weight management.

They had done fantastically well since we started working together, and they had lost a good chunk of weight.

But we spoke about the fact that it might not carry on exactly as planned – they might hit a plateau, or later on in the year they might gain some weight back. If that happened, how would they manage it?

The place I always suggest starting is acceptance. Now this might sound contrived but it’s so important when it comes to managing these situations.

I mentioned that often, the feeling is regret and disappointment after having a slip up or relapse with your diet and weight. But there’s normally a strong sense of guilt in there too, as well as shame.

The Power of Writing Something Down

My advice is instead of focusing on these negative emotions, focus on the fact that it did happen, and it’s done and in the past.

You can’t change it, and by beating yourself up about it you only make it more of a negative scenario. Think back to the example I gave of my friend eating cake at the start.

Your first thought was probably anger or outrage that I would tell her she’d messed it up.

So let’s switch things here. Would you tell your friend that they’d messed things up if things didn’t go to plan, and that they should feel ashamed?

Unless you’re a really mean person, I’m going to guess the answer is no. Now let’s take it another step – if you wouldn’t tell a friend that, why would you tell yourself it?

Unfortunately, we’re often our own worst enemy and it’s so easy to be critical of ourselves, to label ourselves with more negative emotions or actions than is fair.

This is why I suggest trying to ignore those negative emotions when something like this happens, and instead, focus on what you can actually control.

By accepting that it happened, you give yourself permission to move on, to move onto something you have power over, and start making positive changes.

What’s One Change You Could Make That Has a Significant Impact?

This is a key strategy that has shown positive benefits in research, highlighting the importance of the psychological aspects of weight management.

When it comes to these situations, I like to take it back to basics and ask what’s one change that someone could make that has a significant impact.

I like to focus on one thing at a time because it’s highly likely that if you’re in this scenario of having a slip-up then you’re going to generally be finding things tough, and maybe a little bit overwhelming.

From experience, saying you need to get everything back in check straightaway can be daunting, and often just doesn’t happen, but breaking it down into more manageable chunks is an easy way to gain control over your diet and lifestyle again.

So let’s say something happened, you stopped following your diet plan and don’t know where to start. A good option might be to specifically focus on breakfast for the next couple of days.

Make it your priority to get your breakfast right, prepare it in advance, and start the day feeling awesome and like you’ve made a super positive start.

Some of my favourite Hurry The Food Up recipes for this include our variety of overnight oat recipes, like our blueberry cheesecake overnight oats, or our egg muffins, of which I like the Asian-inspired ones.

Things that you can prep the night before, take with you to work or eat immediately in the morning are great options because they remove that stress and time pressure of the morning.

Once you’ve got breakfast under control you can move onto lunch, and likewise on to dinner or snacks.

You’d be surprised at just how much of a difference this stepwise approach could make to you, and I bet that before you know it you’ll be back into the swing of things.

Try for yourself

If you are interested in trying one of our meal plans for weight loss then you get involved by heading over to www.hurrythefoodup.com/try, that’s t r y. We create weekly meal plans for you, full of amazing, healthy recipes that are easy to prepare. We’ve done all the calorie calculations for you so you don’t have to worry about it, and we even create a shopping list for you. You can do your shopping yourself or order it with a click through the website – it’s so simple.

So head over to www.hurrythefoodup.com/try, that’s t r y, to get started today with our amazing weekly weight loss meal plans designed for vegetarians.

So imagine things went wrong but you’ve got everything back under control. That’s fantastic. For obvious reasons though, you want to try to stop that happening again so that you don’t have to go through it, because it’s super tough.

How NOT to Manage Relapses

What can you do to avoid it in the first place? Well, this is the time to get honest with yourself, and for some people, this can be quite difficult.

At this point, you need to honestly try to understand what happened, and what caused you to stop following your diet as intended. You might think this is really obvious and you can easily pinpoint it, but bear with me because I suspect there will be more to it than you realise.

Within our HTFU community, I talk about internal and external triggers. Internal triggers are characterized by how you feel and how you react to situations.

Do your feelings influence your food choices, positively or negatively? Do you eat when you’re stressed? Choose foods that are ‘comforting’ when you’re sad?

Have you ever even thought about this, more than just a fleeting “I know I eat when I’m stressed?” Understanding how your food habits tie in with your feelings is a big step towards taking control over your weight.

If you can become aware of your internal triggers then you can stop yourself from doing something which is counterproductive to your weight loss goal – and I’ll talk about the best way to do that in a moment.

The Power of Journaling

But before that, I want to talk about external triggers, and this is the term we use when we talk about things influencing us, but not necessarily our thoughts and feelings.

How about television or radio adverts that remind us of our favourite food? Or something closer to home – sweets or treats on the side in the kitchen.

These external triggers are equally as important to understand and in a lot of cases – remove. We can make massive improvements in our eating habits simply by removing what causes us to make poor decisions.

Think about the things in your daily

life that are a big factor here, and try to remove as many of these as possible. Remove the sweets from the kitchen side, change the radio station when you’re driving, or hide the food adverts from view when you’re watching TV.

Think about what will make it easier for you to stay on track with your diet. Make the choice to eat healthier options the easier choice, because we tend to follow the path of least resistance.

Okay, so what about those internal triggers? How can you manage those? One of the best ways is to journal, to write things down and look for patterns.

You might already do this when tracking food, but it’s equally powerful for tracking your thoughts and feelings.

If you notice that every time you have a stressful day you end up eating more than usual, then you can start to build an awareness around this and then take steps to avoid it.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Mindfulness and meditation have both been shown to have positive impacts on weight loss and weight management, so that’s something else to try.

What you want to get to is a place where you’re aware of these triggers so that you can see them and then choose a better way to manage the emotions, rather than using food as a crutch.

Alright guys, we’re almost done with today’s episode but just before we finish, I want to share my number one tip on getting back on track if you fall off your diet plan. This is so important and makes a big difference – essentially, it’s all about how you think about food.

Outro: It’s All About Perspective

Let’s say you’ve eaten way more than you intended and feel really bad about it. That’s cool – remember, we’ve accepted it and now it’s done and in the past.

But here’s the key – don’t let that one meal turn into a whole day or week of poor food choices. You’ve eaten more than you intended – no problem.

Just start making better choices right now and focus on that. It’s so easy to let one meal turn into a whole day of bad choices, but really, what does that solve? Nothing.

Instead, draw a line under it and focus on the next meal. Make a healthier choice and do the same for the meal after that.

You’ll find it so much easier to get back on track and you’ll feel better about it, without the regret or disappointment.

Okay, that’s it for today’s episode guys. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you next time.

I hope you found this episode interesting, if you did please to remember to give this a quick review on whatever platform you’re listening on, and we’ll speak again soon!

And finally, the easiest way to sign up to try our meal plans (free).

And a list of our vegetarian meal plans (all also free).

And finally finally: More vegetarian podcasts this way!

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