How to Stop Dieting and Take Back Control of Your Plate


Diets are hard work. Don’t do that. Feel guilty about this. Ditch everything you love. But today Leanne Cooper, a registered nutritionist, Director of Cadence Health and Food Coaching Course and author of Change the Way You Eat is showing us how to stop dieting and start returning to a love of food. With Leanne’s simple tips and insights we can change the way we eat – forever – and our health goals become more achievable. 


How to Stop Dieting and Take Back Control of Your Plate

I’m often often asked, ‘Why do I find it so hard to stick to a diet?’ or ‘Why is nothing working?’

Of course there is no one simple answer. We do know that dieting simply doesn’t work. If it was going to, I think we would have seen some signs over the past 30 years!

Instead, it’s time to stop beating yourself up about food, because that might be just the very thing making it hard to eat healthy!

Here are my five top tips to help make your eating less guilt-ridden and your health goals more achievable.


How To Stop Dieting Tip #1 – Trim your plate

That is your actual plate. Downsizing your plate can have the greatest impact of all on portion control.

If you are prone to overloading your plate and want to cut back, remember up to about a 20% reduction goes mostly unnoticed by us, anything over this and we start to feel like it’s hard work and we are going with out, which brings me to…

Take Action Today: Start using a side plate over a large dinner plate.


How To Stop Dieting Tip #2 – Don’t be mean

To yourself that is. We try so hard, on and on, to stick to our diets, to say ‘no’ to those foods that beg us to eat them. In the end it feels like our willpower lets us down. But, is willpower really to blame or something else? In fact, the effort required to control ourselves is often unsustainable.

The stricter we are the harder we make it for ourselves. The very effort that goes into restraint leaves us depleted and vulnerable to poor choices. Who isn’t familiar with the ‘cant have/want it even more’ phenomena. Try swapping foods instead. You can swap all or part of a less ideal option for something better to avoid feeling like you are going without. If you do cut back by 20% bulk up the gap on the plate with veggies or salad.

Take Action Today: Select a food you want to be less vulnerable to and decide what you will swap it in full or in part for


How To Stop Dieting Tip #3 –  Don’t Go Hungry

Just as endless restraint depletes us, so too does hunger. It’s at these times that we are our most vulnerable to unhealthy food choices. That’s why you hear people say ‘never go shopping on an empty tummy’.

Enjoy small regular meals over the day, we can generally last about three hours between meals before the ‘I’m starving where’s the chocolate devil’ raises its head. Try to be more mindful of hunger and fullness. Ask yourself before you start your meal how hungry you are, before you go for another helping consider how full you feel. Just being mindful can have a powerful impact on your eating habits.


How To Stop Dieting Tip #4 – De-convenience

Make the not-so-good stuff hard to get at. Change your environment so you aren’t cued into eating these foods. If it means walking in a different direction to avoid the lunch room biscuit tin, or moving the jar of treats to the back of the pantry, or not driving past your favourite cake shop, so be it.

Take Action Today: What food will you move or what change will you make to avoid a food trigger?


How To Stop Dieting Tip #5 – The 20:20 rule

We can eat 20% less and not really miss it. Also, remember to wait 20 minutes after a meal before you go for another serving. It takes this long for your stomach to tell your brain you are full. Leave an hour glass on the table to remind you at each meal.


Leanne’s Book Change The Way You Eat (Exisle Publishing, 2014) is available from all good bookstores or online here.


Illustration by: Valeria Vaic
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