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If you’re bored with your diet, you probably won’t stick with it. Here are six practical tips to help you beat diet boredom.
Bored with your diet? That could be good news, but it might also be bad news. The good news is this: if you’re bored with your diet, it probably means that you’ve been sticking pretty solidly to your meal plan. When you eat the same foods day in and day out, you do tend to eat less overall1. But the bad news is this: the reason you’re eating less is because you’re simply bored with your diet, and that can spell trouble. When you experience diet boredom, you’re more easily tempted and you’re more likely to stray off your plan.
There are a couple of reasons people get into ruts with dieting. For one thing, if you stick to a plan and you’re getting results, you might be worried that if you eat anything else your progress will slow down. And if you eat the same thing every day, as boring as it may be, it just makes it easier.
When you say you’re ‘bored with your diet,’ it suggests that at some time you’ll be off your diet. But keep this in mind: weight loss is practice for weight maintenance. The foods and meals you eat while you’re losing are pretty much the same as what you’ll be eating when you shift into maintenance mode. If you’re bored with your diet now, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be slipping back into old habits and watching your weight creep back up.
Learning to love a variety of fruits and vegetables helps to keep things interesting, and you’ll be offering your body a whole host of nutrients. If you just can’t face a plate of spinach one more day, try spicy mustard greens, kale or Swiss chard instead. Just because your meal plan calls for strawberries doesn’t mean you can’t swap in something more exotic like kiwifruit for a change.
Meal plans are designed to distribute your foods over several meals and snacks throughout the day. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t move things around a little bit. Maybe your plan calls for a mid-morning protein snack, but you don’t feel the need (or the desire) to eat it. By all means, move that snack to later in the day if it works better for you. If you prefer your larger meal midday, go ahead and swap. The time of day that you eat your calories makes little difference as long as you don’t exceed your daily totals.
It seems to me that it’s almost as if they’re trying to punish themselves with their diet, and that it would be ‘bad’ to actually enjoy a tasty plate of food. You can add loads of flavor to foods with seasonings like herbs, spices, citrus juice and zest, garlic, onion or a splash of wine or vinegar. And don’t forget almost-calorie-free condiments like mustard, salsa, steak sauce or soy sauce. Fresh steamed spinach tastes just fine, but it’s a whole lot better with a little red onion and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar.
Diet boredom can also set in when you aren’t eating your usual favorite meals because they’re not very diet friendly. Try a little experimenting to be able to satisfy your craving for your favorite foods without breaking your diet. Once you’ve mastered a recipe, share and swap with your friends. It’s amazing how quickly you can build a healthy recipe collection that way.
Dieting can be really boring if you’re convinced you can never enjoy a meal out. The trick is finding restaurant items that work with your diet, not against it. Certain cuisines—Asian and Mediterranean fare, for example—tend to offer diet-friendly vegetables and lean proteins. And take advantage of online nutrition information, which can be a big help in planning what you’ll order.
Sometimes diet boredom doesn’t set in until the weekend. When the weekend sets in, we want to mix it up a little bit. Some people work around this by cutting back a little bit each day during the week, and loosening the reins somewhat on the weekend. If you want to try this, be sure you know how many calories you’ve saved up and how many calories that splurge might cost you.
That said, a small treat now and then shouldn’t derail an eating plan. Allowing yourself a minor splurge may be the highlight you need to alleviate what could start to feel like a boring diet.
1Epstein LH et al. Am J Clin Nutr 94:371-376, 2011