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Posted 2 years ago

Adherence to nutrition – why is it so hard, and what can you do to make it easier?

We all know that nutrition will make or break your results, and this is irrespective of whether you’re trying to gain muscle mass or pull body fat levels down.

However, adherence to nutritional principles is notoriously difficult and probably the thing people struggle with most, particularly in a dieting phase!

So, why is adherence so difficult, and what can you do to make it easier for yourself?

Spend time understanding FOOD

One of the reasons people struggle so much with nutritional adherence is because they do not understand food, calories, and/or macronutrients (the building blocks of all foods). It does take a bit of effort initially to get your head wrapped around it, but again, many are unwilling to put that time and effort in to reading food labels and weighing their food out.

Of course, you do not need to read labels, count calories, and weigh food FOR EVER, but these are actually extremely useful tools and skills to develop, as they will support your progress no matter what your goals are.

SO, in order to make nutritional adherence easier for yourself – and increase your ability to succeed in the long term too – I highly recommend you spend some time learning more about nutrition and your dietary habits. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but even tracking your calories – EVERYTHING you eat and drink – for a week can be quite insightful. You might surprise yourself and learn a lot about portion sizing (yes, a recommended 30g serving of Special K is pretty pathetic)!

Be realistic

Often, we can be fooled into thinking that eliminating foods we love (typically foods high in carbohydrates and fats) will be the solution to achieving our physique goals. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Although you will have to be more mindful about your food choices, telling yourself that “this is the last pizza I’ll ever have” is pretty unrealistic. You already know that’s never going to happen, so why try using such a black and white approach, designed to inevitably fail?

Therefore, be realistic when designing your nutrition plan – this is exactly why I always ask my clients to give me a realistic example of what their food diary currently looks like. It’s then my job as a coach to design a meal plan which incorporates – to an extent – foods that that individual already loves. Being able to have “same same but different” meals which are actually in alignment with your goals will make the transition to a balanced and goal-supportive diet far easier to adhere to!

Make sure you’re focusing on your priorities

It’s so common to hear people moan about being on a diet, and list all the things they’re not allowed to have – it’s no wonder that this then leads to poor dietary adherence, as we all want what we cannot have! In my opinion, if you feel deprived you’ve either not designed your meal plan / approach to nutrition in a realistic way, OR you are focusing on the wrong things.

If your goal is to improve your physique, because you value and want to prioritise your health and fitness, “missing cake” shouldn’t really be a concern. Of course, it’s easier said than done – I also drool over pizza when I’m deep into a dieting phase, but that pizza will always be there and in that moment and time, it will not bring me any closer to my goals. Therefore, maintaining focus on your current goals and understanding that food will always be there can be a very useful way to adhere to your diet, even on the grumpy, ravenous, hangry days.

In summary, although dietary adherence can feel difficult, it is far from impossible and there are many ways you can make it easier for yourself: spend some time learning more about food (tracking calories and macros, for example), be realistic with your approach (nobody ever said they’d stop eating cake and actually stopped for ever!), and remind yourself of your goals.

If you need any help with creating a dietary protocol that is supportive of your goals, get in touch by clicking the button below.

Clara Swedlund MSc MBPsS