Not Eating Healthy, Even Though You Know How? Here’s the Real Reason Why Your Diet’s Failing

Eating healthy is, technically, a no-brainer. We don’t eat junk because we think it’s good for us. Chances are, your diet is failing — if you’re still on it — because you’re not putting your knowledge to good use.

Why, if you know you need to eat better, does it seem so hard to actually do it? These are the most common reasons people keep eating junk, even though they know better.

Attitude

disapproval of offer or situation

A bad attitude can compromise your diet goals. | istock.com/SIphotography

Mindset isn’t everything, but it can actually make a difference.

How often do you hear friends or co-workers sigh and say, “I have to go on a diet”? Chances are, these friends and co-workers probably aren’t going to stick to whatever diet they’re forcing themselves into.

If you approach healthy eating like it’s a prison sentence, you’re not going to learn to embrace a different way of eating. You’re going to — maybe — count calories and avoid your favorite dessert until your time in prison (your diet) ends (you reach your goal weight).

Stubbornness

businessman making a fist

Being stubborn doesn’t look good on you. | iStock.com

You’d rather lose an arm than give up potato chips for the rest of your life.

You’re aware that you eat way too many potato chips. But if eating healthy means you have to stop eating them, well, you’d rather not even bother trying.

Many people either don’t realize they can still eat their favorite foods and stay healthy, or don’t feel they have the self-control to try. Sometimes, eating fewer servings of potato chips and several extra servings of fruits and vegetables each day can make all the difference. But that takes effort, and you’re stubborn.

Convenience

Woman Chopping food

Do the right thing and meal prep your week. | iStock.com/Anchiy

You’re tired, you’re busy, and the thought of cooking a meal never enters your mind.

Making dinner at the end of the day isn’t fun. You’re hungry, you’re tired, and you don’t want to — or don’t have time to — put effort into preparing a meal. Convenience foods like frozen dinners only take a few minutes to prepare. You know they’re not the best choice, but what other options do you have?

Thankfully, you can shift your mindset and break this habit one small step at a time. You can pick one day a week, for example, to throw together a slow-cooker recipe and let it cook itself while you’re at work.

Comfort

Rocky road ice cream

You know you shouldn’t overdo it on the ice cream. | iStock.com/MSPhotographic

You know it’s bad for you, but it calms you down.

If you’ve ever eaten massive quantities of ice cream after a stressful week at work, you know how comforting junk food can feel. It starts out as just a bad habit, but do it too often, and you might find it impossible to resist.

This is why many people become addicted to food, especially added sugars. When you respond to stress with food, for example, you condition your brain to crave food when you start experiencing stress. It can take a lot of work to undo this type of negative response, which makes healthy eating even harder.

Impatience

Man hitting computer with hammer

Don’t lose your temper. | iStock.com

You expect instant results, when that’s the exact opposite of what you’re going to get.

You’ve been told that eating less sugar will help you lose weight. So on Monday, you start cutting a few major sugar sources from your diet. Next week, you’ll eliminate a few more. But a few weeks go by, and you only lose a few pounds. Clearly “sugar detoxes” don’t work, so you just welcome pie back into your life.

The trouble is that eating less sugar, for example, does help you lose weight. It just takes a long time to get to the end result you’re striving for. There’s no instant gratification here. A lot of people simply give up before small changes trigger noticeable results.

Misinformation

Anger management emotional intelligence concept

You can’t listen to anyone’s nutrition advice. | iStock.com/SIphotography

It seems no one can agree on what you’re actually supposed to be doing.

One expert says eating meat is bad; another says going vegetarian will destroy your body. Who’s right, and who’s wrong? Maybe there aren’t any straight answers when it comes to dieting, which makes it impossible to figure out what you’re supposed to do next.

There’s a lot of bad nutrition advice out there, but there’s one rule you can follow to avoid falling for it. If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Eating healthy takes work. There are no quick fixes or shortcuts. If that’s not what you want to hear, it might be time to listen.

How to deal

Happy woman eating green apple

Just do it. | iStock.com

You already know how to eat healthy — you just have to make it happen.

It’s easier said than done — you can make all the resolutions you want, but the truth is, it’s hard to break bad habits. Sometimes, in trying to encourage people to take better care of themselves, celebrities and experts alike make healthy eating sound much easier than it actually is.

The bottom line is, you might have to tackle one bad habit at a time until you’ve replaced it with a better one. Eating healthy is difficult, and it’s slow to form, but in the end, it’s worth the repeated attempts until you make it work.

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