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It’s not a question of if but when you’ll experience your first setback. Life is simply too messy and we all stumble sometimes. But that’s ok. The important thing is what you do next. If you understand the main reasons why people experience setbacks and how to deal with them, you will do just fine.

Your diet is too restrictive

This is probably the number one reason why people quit their diet. If you cut out all the fun out of your diet, you will start missing it sooner or later. You can prevent a diet setback by paying attention to your thoughts around food. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments. It’s better than going back to a terrible diet.

You are too hungry

Another common reason is simply hunger. Diets that restrict a lot of calories can feel really good at first because you see big results. The problem is that hunger will catch up with you. And you’d better have a plan to deal with it. If you don’t have a plan, you will break down one evening and eat the whole fridge.

Fridge full of food
Make sure you don’t go hungry. © Profimedia

You don’t sleep well

Sleep is tightly connected to diet through appetite regulation. If you have a bad night of sleep, your body produces more ghrelin, which makes you feel hungrier, and less leptin, which helps you feel full. Dieting without good sleep is so much harder. Do yourself a favour and take sleep as seriously as your diet.

You are too impatient

We all have an expectation of how much weight we will lose in a week or a month. We even encouraged you to make it a part of your goal setting. But the reality is that the human body is not a machine. Things don’t always go as planned even if you calculate, plan, and try hard. Slow progress or a plateau is often enough to make someone quit. Be patient and make adjustments, but stick with it.

Understanding these reasons will help you anticipate a setback or even avoid it. The second part of the puzzle is your reaction when a diet setback happens. It’s very simple. You only have to do two things. Stop digging and move forward.

Junk food
Don’t let the setback hold you down. © Profimedia

Stop digging

Let’s say, for example, you cave in to peer pressure and have a pizza and a cake for lunch at work. It can quickly make you feel like the day is lost. Going off rails for a whole day is just a step away from extending it to the whole weekend and then the rest of the week. It’s called digging yourself into a hole. And it’s exactly how a small setback turns into a big failure. If you tend to react to small setbacks in this way, consider putting up the following sentence on your fridge:

You’re always just one meal away from being back on track.

So, any time you make a mistake, whatever the reason, make sure it stays there. Stop digging.

Move forward

The best reaction to a diet setback is to plan what you’re going to eat for your next meal and stick to it with even more determination. Make a habit of returning to your diet. Don’t take setbacks lightly, but build this reaction into your muscle memory. It will be easier to flip the negative emotions that come with a setback into positive ones. It’s an opportunity to look at your goals, remember your reasons why and recommit. Don’t dwell on the mistake. Don’t overthink it. Simply move forward.

Next up in How to Stick to Your Diet series