Have you ever found yourself hating your diet and unsure how to fix it?
So many people start a diet, only to abandon it a few weeks later. Unfortunately, many times this failure is not so much due to the diet, but our unwillingness to remain patient and consistent. If you find yourself wanting to stop your diet, you should consider your decision carefully.
In this article, I’ll discuss how to assess your situation and then how to end your diet attempt in a way that will help you in the future, rather than hurt you.
Consider The Situation
One of the biggest issues with dieting is that many people don’t understand that it’s quite a long journey to reach the body they desire. Unfortunately, our society has engrained this idea of instant gratification, which leads many people to jump ship before they’ve even had the opportunity to make great progress.
Easily, this idea is one of the number one reasons why diets fail. After a month of restricting and exercising a few times per week, most people don’t see a drastic change and simply don’t feel encouraged to continue.
If you’re in this situation, I implore you to stop and consider the entire situation before making any drastic changes.
If you’re at the point where you just began a new diet and exercise program, but feel the need to stop, you should re-evaluate that decision, in order to determine if the diet itself is to blame for you lack of progress, or if there is something that you’re personally doing to sabotage your efforts.
More often than not, people either aren’t using their diet plan appropriately or they just simply haven’t spent enough time, following the diet consistently, to see any meaningful progress.
Considering that you might find yourself in a similar situation, you should ask yourself and answer a few very important questions before leaving the diet:
- Have I spent enough time consistently following the diet?
- Have I used the diet correctly?
- Do I just not like the style of diet (which is an acceptable issue)?
- Have I done damage to my metabolism or body as a result?
These are some of the questions that you should consider before abandoning a diet. Many people are far too quick to abandon diets before they’ve put in the necessary work to actually achieve their goals.
Surely, sometimes you just don’t like a particular dieting style. In that case, it’s certainly acceptable to adjust your plan of action, but if you’re simply not being patient enough, you should consider sticking to the plan, rather than jumping ship immediately.
Bottom Line: Before abandoning a diet, figure out what the actual problem is. If the diet just doesn’t fit with you, it makes sense to try something different, but if you’re just being impatient, you should reconsider your choice to leave the diet.
Plan Out Your Transition
If you’ve ultimately come to the conclusion that your current eating pattern isn’t the right fit for you, you should plan out how you’ll transition out of the diet or into a new one.
If you’ve been restricting calories for some time and then all of a sudden begin eating lots of junk food, you run the risk of encountering body fat overshooting.
This is a condition where individuals coming off a diet gain all their weight back and potentially even more, putting them in a worse situation than they were to begin with (1).
This is a very real possibility, which encourages us to take our post-diet strategy as seriously as our pre-diet strategy.
I suggest having a strategy to apply on the day that you’ll stop the diet and, of course, how you’ll begin to re-introduce higher amounts of calories or alternatively, how you’ll transition into your next dieting style.
Bottom Line: Don’t just stop dieting if you don’t like your current plan. Plan out your transition to avoid accidental weight regain.
Transition To Normal Eating Habits
If you’ve ultimately come to the decision that the diet you’re on just isn’t right for you, I suggest transitioning back to your normal eating habits for the most part. And by that I mean your calorie intake.
While there may be some eating habits that you received from the diet that are beneficial, I’m speaking more in terms of the amount of food you’re eating. If you’re restricting calories and then decide to abandon the diet, it’s usually best to return to maintenance and then spend a few weeks eating normally.
Essentially, this is a refeed that just happens to come a bit sooner than expected.
I suggest doing this because, depending on how long you actually used the diet, you may have caused a bit of a metabolic slowdown. While that’s not necessarily due to the diet itself, it is something that occurs solely as a result of continually restricting calories.
When in this position, if you just simply switch the method of dieting, you might put yourself in a similar situation of having slowed weight loss, leading you to believe that “no diet works for you.”
I suggest simply taking a break from dieting for a few weeks, until you find a new method of dieting that you think will work better for you. Not to mention, a short break from calorie restriction will give a boost to your metabolism, which will only help your future weight loss attempts.
Bottom Line: If you do decide to abandon your diet, I suggest returning to maintenance calories for a few weeks before jumping into another form of calorie restriction.
Learn From Your Experience
While many people think that abandoning a diet is a bad thing, I actually view it as a positive. If you’re in this situation, then you can begin to better understand what works and what does not work for you as an individual.
We live with a certain “hive” mindset, where everyone believes that everything should work for everyone. Rarely does diet and exercise ever pan out that way.
We are all individuals with individual responses to many different stimuli, including diet. It’s only when you find what works best for you that you’ll begin to actually be successful. Learning from your failed attempts is not only beneficial but also necessary.
Bottom Line: If you do decide to leave the diet, make sure you learn from the experience to begin pinpointing details that will work for you going forward.
You Chose The Wrong Diet. Now What?
Most of us have been in a situation where our diet just isn’t working how we’d hoped or it’s just not enjoyable.
If you’re in this situation and hoping to leave the diet, I suggest doing so after careful consideration, to ensure that you’re leaving the diet for the right reasons and not due to your lack of patience.
- Dulloo, A. G., Jacquet, J., & Girardier, L. (1997). Poststarvation hyperphagia and body fat overshooting in humans: a role for feedback signals from lean and fat tissues. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 65(3), 717-723.