Lifesum: Leading Doctor Unveils why 80% of New Year Diet Resolutions Fail

Plus 5 Tips to Build Sustainable Eating Habits in 2022

As part of a nationwide initiative to empower people to ditch the New Year diet mentality, doctors at Lifesum, the leading global nutrition app that helps users to improve baseline health through better eating, have unveiled why 80% of diet resolutions fail by February, plus 5 tips to build sustainable eating habits in 2022.  nutrition app

“It’s high time we ditch the New Year, new you mentality,” said Lifesum’s Dr Alona Pulde. “Even with the best intentions, New Year’s diet resolutions have an unreliable track record with 80% failing by February.[1] By understanding why diet resolutions fail, we can resist the temptation to succumb to the pressure and, instead, build sustainable eating habits in 2022 that actually work.”

Dr Pulde has unveiled the top three reasons why 80% of New Year’s diet resolutions fail by February.

  • We ignore biological drives. During the festive season, we eat “all out”, and rely on New Year’s resolutions to reset our eating habits. But we are programmed to seek calorie density, often with ultra-processed foods, which keep the calories high, but eliminate the fibre and water needed to help our satiation system shut off. As a result, we over-eat high calorie, high fat foods, which raises the threshold of what we find satisfying. Come New Year’s Day we feel restricted, deprived and anxious.[2]
  • We focus on external factors. Common New Year’s resolutions, such as weight loss or wanting more money, are limited because they neglect our internal needs. Weight loss is one way to meet our need for health, but not if it is done in unhealthy ways,[3] e.g., deprivation and restriction. Defining what we really need, how to meet those needs, and which are most sustainable, is key.
  • We do it alone. Change is tough, even more so when we try it alone.[4] Taking the journey together with a family member or friend increases the success of making sustainable changes because you can regularly monitor and report on progress to someone other than yourself. Using a food tracking app like Lifesum, which feature tonnes of delicious recipes and meal plans, can also benefit.[5],[6]

“Building sustainable eating habits in 2022 is a lifestyle you can enjoy and maintain, and it is something you don’t have to work hard at achieving,” said Dr Pulde. “Rather than a quick fix in January, make healthy eating habits a year-long theme.”


As part of the nationwide initiative, Dr Pulde unveiled 5 hacks to build and maintain sustainable eating habits in 2022.  nutrition app

  • Find your “Why”. Typically, we focus on what, not why, we want to change something. The “what” is self-limited and challenged in times of stress and illness. Knowing and connecting with our “why”, and establishing the strategies that best help to meet those needs, increases our ability to succeed long-term.[7]
  • Pace it. Don’t aim for 100% on 1 January! Incremental changes over 3 months to a year are the best way to maintain healthy eating habits.[8] Losing 10 pound in 10 days only to gain 20 back is not sustainable. Instead, what if we lost 1 pound every 10 days in a way that we could enjoy and sustain? For example, if you are trying to incorporate more plant-based meals to aid your weight loss goals, change breakfast to be plant-based, have meatless Mondays, or choose local and seasonal fruit and vegetables for the next 3 months. Create small changes you can incorporate into your life, rather than changing everything at once.
  • Commit with the community. Before making a change, get a friend or family member to travel the journey with you. Make it fun, find ways to hold each other accountable, and include friendly competition if that’s your thing.
  • Define specific goals. The more specific you define why and what you want to change, the greater the success rate.[9] Provide as many details as you can and include preparation in your planning. What are the things you need to set in place before attempting your goals? Creating meal plans and shopping lists help with changing eating habits, and creating a budget helps to manage your finances.
  • Plan to get back on the waggon. Distractions, disappointments and failures are part of life. We should expect to “fall off the waggon” at some point or several points throughout the year. Success lies not in avoiding these situations, but in planning for them.[10] So, as you plan your what and why, include how. How will you get back on track? What are some of the steps you will take to bring yourself back to your goals?

While acknowledging that much of the New Year diet mentality focuses on cutting out certain foods, Dr Pulde suggests 5 simple things people can add to their diet for sustainable health in 2022.  nutrition app

  • Fruits and vegetables – and whenever possible, make them local and seasonal.
  • Whole grains, not refined – they positively impact our health and have a lower carbon footprint by decreasing processing and energy requirements environmentally.
  • Beans and lentils – these nutritious choices reduce the need for fertilisers and decrease carbon emissions. Simply add them to, or use instead of, animal-food choices, including bean burgers.
  • Choose sustainable fish – anchovies, clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, wild Alaskan salmon and mackerel are great options.
  • Poultry or eggs – these can be used instead of beef, lamb, and goats. Not only are they a great source of protein, but they are more environmentally friendly.

Notes:

1. https://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/why-set-yourself-up-for-failure-ditch-new-years-resolution-do-this-instead.html  – US News and World Report – 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail  
2. https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2018/05/calorie-deprivation , https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334025/  – deprivation diets don’t work and the reasons why
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334025/  – unhealthy weight gain practices
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7725288/  – group that received some support was more successful than no support – approach oriented goals (toward something you want) more successful than avoidance oriented goals (eliminating or moving away from something)
4a. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30658560/  – women with social support (and greater resilience – diet, activity, etc) postpartum fared better than those without
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8019277/ , https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4867  – monitoring over the holidays (accountability) helps with maintaining weight goals
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6543803/  – tracking apps help with weight management
7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/intrinsic-motivation  – benefits of intrinsic motivation
8. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.21925  – slow and steady weight loss
9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27454908/  – more specific goals are more successful
10. https://www.scholars.northwestern.edu/en/publications/buffering-against-weight-gain-following-dieting-setbacks-an-impli  – believing we can change, helps make that possible (ie if we know we can fail and still get back on the wagon v that indicating that we are doomed we will better deal with setbacks)

 

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