Why you should ditch dieting in January – and what you should do instead

It’s January – so you’re probably feeling pressure to clean up your act a bit.

We’re all sick of indulging and desperate to feel clean, healthy and like we are the best and most glowing versions of ourselves for the new year.

But jumping immediately into an uber restrictive eating plan or a fad diet probably isn’t the best way to go about it.

Research shows two-thirds of people regain all of the weight they lost – and then some – following a highly restrictive diet. Because for most people, diets just aren’t sustainable.

And, of course, weight loss doesn’t have to be your priority. But making healthier nutritional choices is great for many reasons other than your waistline.

Tamara Willner, nutritionist for Second Nature, says that this January you shouldn’t bother with a diet – because there’s just no quick fix when it comes to improving our overall health.

‘This year, we are taking a stand against unhealthy, unrealistic fad diets, because they don’t work,’ says Tamara.

‘Although they usually result in fast weight loss, we know that fad diets don’t last in the long-term.’

Tamara says looking at health holistically – including sleep, stress, movement, and nutrition – is the most effective way to lose weight and ensure that we feel like the best versions of ourselves.

‘Plus, learning to enjoy the things we love mindfully, whether that’s chocolate or wine, rather than restrict ourselves and then binge on these items, is much more likely to result in long-term results,’ she adds.

‘There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make healthy changes. The issue is when we make unrealistic goals, inevitably fail to achieve those goals, and then feel as though we aren’t good enough or we’ve “failed”.

‘Plus, it’s common to develop an unhealthy relationship with food and see food as “the enemy”.’

Tamara says the reason why so many of us quit our New Year’s resolutions after just a few weeks is normally because the diets we try are unrealistic, so we end up setting ourselves up for failure from the start.

‘Making healthy changes to our lifestyle doesn’t need to feel like a punishment,’ she says. ‘There are plenty of things you can do to benefit your health, small steps that once you’ve implemented, will become positive habits.’

15 things you can do instead of dieting in January

Add extra vegetables to every meal.

Have a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink.

Start each morning with a 10-minute walk.

Plan meals ahead of time.

Avoid screen time for one hour before bed.

Swapping fruit juices, squash, or sugary beverages to water, tea, coffee, or milk.

Avoiding low-fat products so that you feel more satisfied.

Snacking on whole foods rather than processed alternatives – e.g. choosing cheese, nuts, fruit, boiled eggs, natural yoghurt with berries rather than crisps, biscuits, chocolate bars, or sugary cereal bars.

Be kinder to ourselves and focus on positive self-talk.

Stand up from your desk every hour to do one minute of activity – squats, star jumps, stretching, or running on the spot.

Allow yourself to eat a certain foods when we feel like it (e.g. chocolate), but eat it slowly and distraction-free.

Spend 10 minutes every day outside in nature, or near my window looking at nature.

Take at least 15 minutes to eat meals.

Limit takeaways to once every two weeks.

Replace negative thoughts about your appearance with positive ones.

The new year should be an opportunity for positive change – not a time when you feel pressured into ‘fixing’ things about yourself.

As Tamara says, health is multifaceted, and nutrition and weight is just one part of the overall picture.

If you want to make healthy food choices in January, great – but it doesn’t need to be your entire focus.

Instead, why not use the new year to create some meaningful resolutions that will positively impact your life and the people around you?

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