Why is staying on a diet so hard?

How to maintain patience in keeping a diet?

Why is staying on a diet so hard?
Written by Our: Morning Runner
Medical Fact Checked by: Dr. Bryan Havoc
Last updated:

The decision about going on a diet is the decision about changing an important part of your life. A change which takes time, strength, consequence, perseverance and ability to self-motivate. No wonder that it’s that hard to stay on a diet. How to handle this?

This process of change can often go with stress, anger and sadness. Such psychical state can sabotage the plan of changing nutrition habits - because right after first failures you’re coming back to well-known scheme of thinking about yourself negatively, which can effectively impede keeping your diet.

A famous American psychiatrist Aaron Beck (A famous American psychologist Albert Ellis) created a cognitive model called ABC which helps to better understand and control our way of thinking and behaving. If you’re afraid and don’t believe in yourself, check if you are not trapped in similar loop:

ABC - the bad thinking alphabet

An adversity (A) of for example not keeping the diet, negatively affects our beliefs (B) “I am pathetic”, “I am never able to keep my resolutions”, which in turn creates negative emotions - consequences (C): sadness, anger. Then again emotions influence our behavior, what as a result can lead us to stop the diet totally.

What to do not to fall into a self-perpetuating spiral?

Start from observing your thoughts and what you tell yourself when you have difficulties in keeping the diet. Write down your observations for one week. Afterwards, if you think about yourself in a strongly negative way, then your work on dieting has to be extended to work on your automatic thoughts and beliefs.

Where do those beliefs come from? They are a result of previous experience, for example from your childhood, and they’re often comments you’ve heard about yourself from your parents or other important individuals. These comments were present in your life until they were assimilated and became part of your way of thinking. If you take a closer look on them it may occur that they’re totally not related to the person you’re now.

From that reason an important part of that work is listening to what you “tell yourself” and making these thoughts real. 

In other words – you should analyze particular situations that you interpret negatively on the basis of reality.

Breaking the scheme

Remember: labels which you give yourself can effectively limit your capacity for action. Try to focus on specific situations when you don’t act like you wish to. Instead of “I will never manage to lose weight, I am pathetic” think: “this morning I failed with keeping my diet, but I don’t want it to happen again, next time I have to be more careful”.

Labelling is limiting, it doesn’t give you possibilities to behave alternatively, it blocks energy and impedes looking into the future. Thinking based on situations, on actual events, helps us better understand what has happened and learn from it.

It helps to look into the future in more optimistic way, to concentrate energy on acting and build trust in yourself, so it also boosts self-confidence. Isn’t that the most important when we want to stay on a diet?

*This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.