4 top tips to beat diet boredom

Emma White - Nutritionist | 06 Mar, 2024

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Tired of abandoning diets due to monotonous meals? You're not alone. In our members' poll, boredom and limited food options emerged as the primary culprits for derailment, just after stress.

Choosing a weight loss plan with many restrictions and rules sets you up for failure. It can quickly become repetitive and leave you feeling deprived, leading to increased hunger and cravings. Any diet plan that bans everything you love and makes it difficult to eat and socialize with friends and family is unlikely to last very long!

Why Over-Restriction Is Not the Answer

At Nutracheck, we always recommend the path of least resistance – continue including the foods you love, just manage frequency and portion sizes. It's proven that diets which are overly restrictive rarely have positive results in the long term.

Research shows that approaches such as cutting out whole food groups or all your favorite treat foods actually have negative effects and can cause more cravings and overeating. A study carried out at the University of Toronto looked at the effects of certain food cravings in restrained and non-restrained eaters. The 103 participants were split into three groups; chocolate-deprived, vanilla-deprived, or non-deprived. The results found that the restrained eaters who had been deprived of chocolate ate the most chocolate out of all the groups when they were able to. It was also noted that restrained eaters experienced more cravings than their non-restrained counterparts.

A further study, carried out at Wageningen University in The Netherlands, looked at the effect of eating a small amount of a treat food versus a much larger amount, on food cravings. This study included 104 participants who were given a small amount of either chocolate, apple pie, or potato chips or a much larger amount of each food. The study found that shortly after eating the foods, participants were equally satisfied by either the smaller portion or larger portion.

The results of both studies show that overly restricting what you can eat can actually lead to greater cravings, and that having a little of what you fancy really will do the trick!

How to Minimize Your Risk of Getting Bored

It's completely possible to lose weight happily and sustainably with Nutracheck, without ever getting bored. We operate a 'no banned foods' policy which means you can continue to eat all the foods you love and still reach your weight goals. As long as you count all the foods you eat within your daily calorie allowance, your weight loss will stay on track.

Of course, moderation is key, so getting the balance right between more nutritious foods versus those more indulgent foods is vital for long-term success. But the above research suggests that having just a little of what you fancy is enough to remain satisfied, while leaving plenty of room for all those super nutritious foods too!

Here are my top tips to ensure you don't get bored and can truly make this a lifestyle change and not a temporary diet.

Tempted woman

Avoid Completely Excluding Specific Foods or Food Groups

As we've seen from the research mentioned above, being too restrictive runs the risk of leading to more cravings and overeating. There's no need to ban foods from your diet—in fact, you absolutely shouldn't! Having a good mix of all the main food groups, such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables, plus the occasional treat, is the best way to get a good balance of nutrients and stay satisfied. If your weakness is chocolate, find a way to have a little bit each day if needed. Just a treat-sized bar to satisfy your cravings should do the trick and will only cost you around 100 calories.

People eating out

Continue to Go Out for Meals and Have the Odd Takeaway

It's fine to eat out and order a takeaway, even when trying to lose weight. Many restaurant chains have made their nutritional information available, so you can plan in advance what to order and factor it into your calorie allowance for the day. We have the calorie info for many restaurants and popular takeaway foods listed in the Eating Out section of our app and in the food diary on the website. As long as you compensate for your meal by adjusting the other foods you eat throughout the day or week, you will still be on track to lose weight. It's important to continue to have meals out and takeaways when losing weight, as this is a realistic way to live for many of us—and remember, this is a lifestyle shift, not a temporary solution.

Woman cooking

Vary What You Are Eating Regularly

Try not to fall into the trap of eating the same things week in, week out. There are so many foods and meals you can try, and none of them are off-limits. Set yourself a goal of trying at least one new recipe each week to ensure you try new ingredients. You can find hundreds of calorie-counted meals in the 'My Meals' section of the Nutracheck app—including hundreds of delicious recipes from the experts at BBC Good Food. Also, many recipes in magazines give a full nutritional breakdown too, so it's easy to add a serving to your Nutracheck diary using the 'Quick Add' or 'Manually Added' options, so there's really no excuse for not trying something new!

Couple exercising

Vary Your Exercise

Okay, so it's not specifically related to your diet, but exercise can play a pivotal role in weight loss success. Exercise not only helps us use more calories, but it also builds and maintains muscle mass which contributes to a healthy metabolism. Regular exercise can also be the key to staying motivated and remaining in the right mindset during your weight loss journey (of course, we understand not everyone can exercise, and it is still possible to lose weight successfully through dietary changes alone). When it comes to exercise, just like food, it's good to get into the habit of varying or progressing the type you do. Try a new class at the gym, or give a new exercise DVD a go—it will make exercising so much more interesting if it's not just the same routine each week. Plus, progression is essential for continued success!

Your Take-Home Message

As you can tell, keeping your favorite foods in your diet is crucial for successful weight loss. With Nutracheck, you can eat all the foods you love and still lose weight—just track your calories and stay within the allowance set for you. Of course, we encourage you to try and make the most of your calories by making healthier choices where you can—you can get a lot more apple for 100 calories than you can chocolate—so it's good to try and make every calorie count in terms of its nutritional benefit for you. But, with the right approach and balanced attitude, you really can have your cake and eat it!

Nutritionist Emma White (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.

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