How to Not Get Derailed From Your Diet

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Here are 10 ways to keep from getting derailed from your diet.

Even the best of intentions can get derailed because of one of three things: Depriving so much that it leads to overeating, concern about how others feel, or lack of time.

A big part of success with keeping to eating healthier is navigating life’s many obstacles. You know what I’m talking about, is the fact that there is ALWAYS something that comes up that throws you off track.

Look my friends, you can eat healthy no matter what is going on in your life. I see a few things that happen.

You won’t start any kind of plan because “something is coming up.” Who wants to start a diet during the holidays or before vacation?

In addition, unexpected things always come up: illness, family problems, work emergencies. Who can eat healthy when life is happening?

And there is the other issue, wanting to lose weight for an event, that doesn’t happen, so you abandon your healthy eating plans.

Guess what? That is never going to change! There will always be things coming up in life, planned or unplanned.

I’m going to tell you how you can plan for life’s events, so you never feel sidetracked.

Honestly, being realistic and planning for obstacles is going to be more helpful than trying to be perfect!

10 Common Obstacles to Losing Weight

Here are the 10 most common obstacles to losing weight I see in my life coaching practice.

  • Holidays
  • Special Occasions
  • Your job
  • Boredom
  • Going out with Friends
  • Other people (husband, kids, partner) keep “bad” food in the house
  • My partner, friends, and/or kids don’t support me
  • It hurts people’s feelings when I say no
  • I don’t want to waste food
  • I’m too tired to cook

Let’s dig in.

We women spend so much time either restricting our diets or planning to restrict our food intake, that we see these kinds of things as reasons to dive face first into as much food as possible.

I literally talk to women that have been on this cycle for years!

Food is so tied to many of life’s events that we can’t even imagine just simply eating normal foods, in normal amounts at times.

But when you eat enough all the time, these kinds of events are just not as big a deal. I promise you that you don’t have to let life derail your efforts.

There are really four primary ways to address and plan for the diet problems that can come up. Underlying all of these, is that you don’t actually have to try to lose weight at these times.

I consider maintaining one of the greatest skills you can learn to maintain healthy eating habits all the time.

To be successful over your lifetime, here are my four skills I teach. You’ll see elements of these in each obstacle I describe.

  • Work on regulating your emotions
  • Decide that your goal will be to maintain
  • Concentrate on your meals
  • Plan for treats that are really treats
Picture of woman in chef's hat holding a plate of cookies with the words: how to not derail your diet

How Do I Stick with My Diet During the Holidays?

I have helped women navigate the holiday season for several years now. Many women expect to gain weight between October and January and don’t really see a way for it to be otherwise.

This is a terrible way to approach the holidays. Often weight gained, is weight kept on, so it is way better to not gain it in the first place.

Let’s look at this closely.

The actual holidays are just a few days nestled in that two-month period. Yet, we freak ourselves out by thinking we’re going into two months of insane eating.

Sure, there are going to be more treats available. Maybe some you only see once a year.

So, have the favorite cookie or treat.

But otherwise, just don’t make a big hairy deal about it all. Stick with your eating plan most of the time and allow for a few special treats.

And above all, don’t try to eat diet meals to make up for the treats! This will just leave you hungry and susceptible to unplanned eating.

Here is a list of some no-no’s you can implement next holiday season.

  • No starving yourself, so you can eat more later
  • No planning to “pig out”
  • No skipping meals
  • No depriving yourself over and over until you dive in to overeating
  • No keeping leftover treats because it’s wasteful to throw them away
  • No eating food that someone else wants you to eat

How to Navigate Eating at Special Occasions

Special occasions include birthdays, weddings, showers, and other occasions where there is likely to be yummy food you don’t usually get.

No one wants to be the one to say “no thank you” to cake or treats in front of other guests. It almost feels like you aren’t celebrating or appreciating your hosts efforts.

And you don’t have to. You don’t have to say no. And you don’t have to eat something you don’t want to.

There are times when I say, “No thank you.” Most people that know me well, know that wheat products are a problem for me. If I say yes to cake, I am also saying yes to an upset stomach later.

A lot of women don’t really know how food makes them feel. Most of my clients, once they have mostly eliminated sugary foods and highly processed foods are surprised by how bad they feel, when they do eat them.

Knowing you’ll probably feel bad later, provides some incentive to say no.

But if the particular food doesn’t bother you and you really want the treat, go for it and enjoy.

Give yourself permission to enjoy the treat. My clients find that giving themselves permission to eat the treat they desire ahead of time, reduces the urge to overeat at a party.

Oftentimes, once we give ourselves permission to eat the special occasion treat, we find we don’t have the desire to overeat it.

Recently, all my clients were navigating Super Bowl parties. I loved how each client created their own strategy. Here are some examples.

  • Fix one plate, making it a full meal
  • Grazing snacks and enjoying your favorites
  • Bringing a dish that you love and fits with how you want to eat and feel.

What to Do About Overeating at Work?

I remember back when I was working as a college advisor. I would pack my snacks and my lunch with good intentions. Then by 10 AM, I would have eaten it all!

Looking back, I can see it was at times a response to stress and at other times I was bored. I also learned that the type of food I was eating back then, didn’t really fill me up or satisfy me. I would get genuinely hungry and need to eat.

Later I changed the types of foods I ate, depending on protein and healthy fats to keep me full between meals.

So, that’s my first piece of advice. Make sure your meals include enough protein and fat to hold you. Eliminate the highly processed foods that lead to hunger coming on quickly and creates even more cravings.

Foods like oatmeal and yogurt work for some women but for me, they just don’t keep me comfortable between meals.

Another issue in workplaces are the foods people bring in to share. It seems every workplace has the desks that always have candy to share.

Also, it seems like every other day there is some kind of occasion for cake, pizza, donuts, and other work treats.

Yes, these brighten the workday but they also totally sabotage your good efforts.

The solution is to eat your own planned meals and eat enough you aren’t at the mercy of food you weren’t planning to eat.

And if the job is just that horrible, maybe it’s time for some changes.

Eating Out of Boredom

Food has become a form of entertainment. How many times have you felt bored and gone looking for something to eat?

I encourage women to put food in its proper place—nutrition.

This isn’t as bleak as it sounds. I promise.

When you begin to treat food as the foundation of your health, your wellbeing, and your energy, you start seeing it differently.

There are endless ways to make food taste good and to build great meals.

If you find yourself looking for something to ease the restless feeling of boredom, stop and check in with yourself.

Ask yourself if you are actually hungry. If the answer is yes, then look for something to eat that is like a mini meal. Protein, veggie or fruit, and healthy fats.

What can this look like?

  • Boiled eggs
  • nut butter and an apple or celery
  • Handful of nuts or olives
  • Some egg, chicken, or tuna salad with lettuce wrap or cut up veggies
  • Cup of homemade soup
  • Vegetable-based smoothie
  • Avocado
  • Hummus and veggies

If you are not hungry, ask yourself what you do need?

Walk? Nap? Cuddle with your dog or cat? Read a book? Call a friend?

Sometimes, we feel too tired for anything, and we look to food to give us more energy. If this is your normal, it’s going to be important to find ways to get more rest.

Going out with Friends

Let’s face it, most of the time when we get together with friends, there is food involved.

This comes up quite a bit with women, how to navigate going out with their friends or traveling with them.

If the norm has been to use getting together as an opportunity to eat out a lot, have lots of junk food, or in any other way overeat, it can be tough to think about showing up differently.

We worry that we’ll hurt our friends’ feelings by sticking with our eating plans or goals.

Or maybe we think we’ll let them down if we don’t participate in the food fest.

I want to encourage you to love yourself enough to put yourself first.

Food can be so addictive and it’s so easy to use the excuse of your friends and your traditions to overeat and then feel like you are off-track again.

Eventually, this will not be a problem because you just won’t think of food in the same way. But in the beginning, you may have to feel a little uncomfortable sticking with your own plan.

And as a reminder, your plan can absolutely include eating out or having favorite foods.

Other people (husband, kids, partner) keep “bad” food in the house

Most of my clients live with other people and those other people aren’t trying to lose weight. Also all of my clients are women and most of them (though not all) are the primary meal planners and preparers.

Yet, in attempting to cater to partners and children, my clients find it trickier to plan their own healthy meals.

Here’s my advice on that. Plan, shop, and cook for you and your goals. Since you aren’t going to be making diet food, you don’t need to make separate meals.

Look, everyone can use better nutrition. Your family is no exception. Make what you want. If anyone needs something else, they can supplement.

But the other problem is that extra food. I know one woman whose husband has an entire closet of treats.

Look, think of it this way. You go into stores all the time that are full of treats. You don’t feel the need to eat all of it or be frustrated because it is there.

Junk food in the pantry is just food. It doesn’t have any special power over you.

My Partner, Friends, and/or Kids Don’t Support Me

I haven’t seen this as much with my clients, but I have seen it in online groups. You decide you are going to change how you eat and your partner or kids look at you with the “here we go again” look.

Women get so discouraged that they give up because they feel defeated before they even start.

This one might feel tough, but what anyone else thinks or feels about how you eat is no concern of yours.

If you have decided that you want to feel your best, that is ultimately going to be best for everyone.

Even if you have the most supportive family in the world, this is still a one-person effort. No amount of support will make the actual doing easier.

It Hurts People’s Feelings When I say No

Of all the things on the list, I still struggle with this one!

For example, my son-in-law is an amazing cook and he cooks three meals a day for his family. When I visit, I’m usually there for at least two of these meals.

Fortunately, he cooks lots of veggies and healthy options.

Where I get stuck is that he also likes to plate the food. And he does not want anyone to go hungry. Once the food is in front of me, one of two things happen. It’s so delicious, I eat it up or I start feeling full but keep eating because I can’t bear to throw his hard work away.

Last night though, I asked to plate my own and he handed me a giant bowl. I thanked him and also picked a much smaller bowl.

The world didn’t end.

Here’s another common event. Your kids make cookies or something special and it’s made with love and how can you say no to love.

If you’ve planned for it, have the cookie. If you haven’t, say thank you and that you will eat it later, the next day or whenever makes sense for you.

Or just wrap it and freeze it. Sometimes we just have to avoid the cookies.

But remember what is most important. Your connection with others. Eating the food is not the connection.

My clients discover once they stop thinking food is the connection, they actually create more loving and authentic connections.

I Don’t Want to Waste Food

This is the shortest one. Eating food that you don’t need or want is just as wasteful as throwing it away.

When you overeat, you don’t feel good, you hurt your body, and if you do it over and over, you store it as unwanted fat.

To repeat. Eating food you don’t want or need is just as wasteful as throwing it away.

I’m Too Tired to Cook

The struggle is real my friends.

But continuing to rely of fast or convenience foods is not really helping. It can take a few weeks to transition to making meals that meet your needs and not being annoyed by it.

I know it can feel impossible to think about coming home and making a good dinner and also planning for the next day’s meals.

You can trust me on this—being able to do this is not only possible, but it will also make your life easier in other ways.

Look, meals do not have to be gourmet masterpieces. Seriously, you can buy a cooked chicken, frozen broccoli (cook and serve with butter or olive oil) and throw a potato in the oven or microwave.

I’m also a fan of putting my protein and extra vegetables on top of a salad.

Cook in bigger quantities so you can have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Schedule an hour to plan your meals and make your shopping list. Plan for a serving of protein for each meal, veggies, and healthy fats for sure. Add grains, beans, and other extras sparingly.

So, most women need 4-6 ounces of protein for meals. That’s about six and a half pounds of meat for you alone per week. Of course, there are other sources of protein and you can use those as well for your nutritional needs.

If you are over 50 it’s important to try and get as much nutrition from food. The only way I know how to do that is to plan and make sure you have ingredients for meals on hand.

It’s a big commitment but so worth it!

Creating Your Own Plan for Obstacles

By now I hope you can see that you are not powerless in these types of situations. In many cases, it is the feeling that we will be deprived that leads to overeating, concern about how others feel, or lack of time that derails us.

The best thing to do is have total compassion and love for yourself. It’s not what we are taught but you can put yourself first when it comes to what and how you eat.

This is a lifetime practice and one that requires a lot of intention, especially in the beginning.

The rewards are worth it though, to feel and look your best at any age.

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Keep showing up my friends,



I'm a certified life and weight loss coach who helps women feel better and get the most out of their lives! The process of life coaching teaches you to love yourself and gain self confidence in a safe effective way.

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Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! Big changes can happen with a shift in thinking. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life and weight loss coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.