By Benjamin Semmens, Registered Nutritionist (BHSc)
13 Seeds is back again with another edition of Friday Q&A, a digital series where we answer all your health and nutrition-related questions. This week’s question came from Andrew: “I’m about to start a new diet. I’ve tried lots of diets in the past, but I always end up quitting after a couple of weeks. Do you have any advice?
Making healthy choices and changes in your diet can boost your mood, energy levels and even help you shed a few pounds. However, there are many common mistakes people make when trying out a new diet that often leave them right back to where they started with an extra serving of guilt and shame.
To help you get started on the right foot, here are few tips and tricks to help you adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle for the long haul.
1. Preparation is key
The most important tip to maintaining a healthy diet is to be prepared. A simple way to do this is by cooking bulk-meals that will last you a couple days (pastas, stir fry’s, curries). Having healthy meals in the fridge can help you avoid ordering Uber Eats when you just can’t be bothered.
Stocking up on the essentials when you go grocery shopping can also make your life a lot easier. Aim to buy a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables, quality proteins (tofu, lentils, beans, meat, dairy, fish), complex carbohydrates (sweet potato, brown rice, wholegrain pasta, legumes), healthy fats (hemp seed oil, olive oil, avocados), a variety of spices (for flavouring) and sauces (tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, stock). These foods are rich in nutrients and can be used in a variety of different meals, making your cooking process even easier.
2. The battle of the supermarket
3. Set goals and track progress
Whether your goal is to lose weight or to improve your overall health—setting goals is essential. Make your goal even more real by writing it down, this will give you something tangible to work towards and will help you stay accountable. Be sure to also track your progress in order to stay motivated or find out where you may need to make adjustments or push yourself further. Don’t be scared to reassess your goals and adjust them accordingly along the way.
4. Be realistic, patient and kind to yourself
A diet should first and foremost be realistic and sustainable. If you make radical changes that don’t fit into your busy schedule or are too far-fetched, then it’s likely you’ll fall off the wagon. This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame that can increase the risk of reverting back to your old ways. Forming positive habits can take time and it may feel like you’re running on a treadmill at times, so remember to be kind to yourself. When you are reaching your goals, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back and be proud of what you’ve achieved.
5. Healthy snacks
When hunger pain strikes, it can be tempting to eat something that you'll later regret. Being prepared with healthy snacks is a great way to fend off those cravings. Opt for something that’s low in sugar and nutrient dense. Some healthy snacks include fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, smoothies, yoghurt, dips and crackers, home-made muesli/granola bars and bliss balls.
When you’re constantly doing the right thing most of the time, it’s important that you occasionally treat yourself, without feeling guilty. A great method to employ is the 80/20 principle – do the right thing 80% of the time and treat yourself the other 20%. Life is too short to not enjoy the things you love and when you do indulge, you’ll enjoy it even more. If you forgot to bring a healthy snack, don’t worry, one cheeky meal isn’t going to kill you or your progress, and may provide the energy you need at the time.
Maintaining a diet can be difficult, especially if you’re not prepared. With these tips you’ll have all bases covered, so when you do slip up, you can quickly get back on track. Change is hard, don’t forget to be kind and compassionate to yourself. You’ve already taken a huge step to improving your health and your life.
Congratulations to Andrew who won a $20 gift voucher just for asking Ben a question! If you have any other questions or need some extra support with your health, feel free to email our head nutritionist Ben at and subscribe to our blog for more updates.
This article does not constitute medical advice and does not take into consideration your personal circumstances. Please see your medical professional before implementing the above.