Why your January diet is doomed to fail

18th December 2023

and what you need to do to succeed…

January is the most popular month to start a diet and yet the most unsuccessful. Right after the holidays and with the New Year’s resolutions in mind, it is only natural that we all try to get back in shape after the indulgent feasts that temporarily diverted us from our regular eating habits. So, while we are determined to lose weight, why does a January diet fail?

3 reasons why your January diet fails

  1. It’s the weather

Yes, the first and foremost reason why a January diet plan fails is the weather. We’re in the deepest, darkest winter. The cold is relentless, and we go for weeks without seeing the sun. Researchers believe that cold weather triggers a relic of evolution that’s meant to help us fatten up to survive harsh conditions. Studies have shown that even watching videos depicting winter cues elicits thoughts about energy-dense foods and survival.

Winter also affects the hormones that control hunger and appetite, including glucocorticoids, ghrelin, and leptin. The lack of sun and the change in our hormones are the main causes of seasonal affective disorder, which may lead us to crave food even more.

In light of all this, we need more energy and more vitality during winter. Even though salads may taste wonderful, they are not enough on their own as we will all feel the need for warmer comfort meals.

So winter is not the right time to try to confine our appetite and deprive our body of energy-rich comfort foods.

  1. It’s the unrealistic expectations

 Most of us have realised the effects of festive eating even by the 2nd day of January, and we’re eager to rid ourselves of them. So what do we do? We pick some fad diet full of calorie restrictions and elimination of entire food groups, or we simply starve ourselves. Is it viable? The answer is no. We get frustrated and disappointed easily, and it’s a matter of time before giving up.

We’re quick to adopt these drastic measures in pursuit of rapid results, but the frustration and disappointment that follow are all too familiar, leading to a cycle of trying and failing. 

So this year, try not to panic and ditch fad diets for small changes and balanced nutrition that will help you reach your goals. Taking small steps and being consistent will be the key to achieving long-term success.

  1. It’s the cost

The holiday season involves indulgence and social gatherings centred around food, which afterwards creates feelings of guilt or the desire to “make up for” as well to tighten the belt.  Savings after the holidays become a pressing reality, making it challenging to allocate extra funds for healthier, often more expensive, dietary choices.

Besides, January is a great time to find food discounts. A refrigerator stocked with delectable items can often be found among the remnants of New Year’s Eve sales. It seems inconceivable to leave these delicious treats out of our meals, making January a month filled with palatable indulgences that last well past the holiday season.

What you need to do for your January diet plan to succeed this year

If you feel the need to be healthier, don’t go all out for one of the extreme diets that abound at this time of year. Try to ease yourself into a more balanced routine. Instead of drastic changes, opt for small, manageable adjustments in dietary choices. Start by incorporating more seasonal fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into meals while gradually reducing processed foods and sugars. 

Don’t skip comfort food; you can make delicious warm soups that will make you feel energised. You can throw anything into a soup pot – greens, lentils, whole grains, and a lean protein, like chicken or tofu. This will help you avoid the shock to your system that sudden diet shifts often bring, making it easier to stick to healthier eating habits in the long run.

Moreover, as January progresses, use this time to prioritise self-care and listen to your body’s needs. Engage in exercises that you enjoy, be it yoga, walking, or dancing, and ensure you get enough restorative sleep. Do some detox and try a weight loss patch to support your efforts. Most importantly, prepare for spring and summer; when the weather is warmer, diet-friendly produce is more readily available. 

By focusing on self-care, maintaining a balanced diet, and gradually incorporating healthier habits, you set the stage for long-term success in achieving and sustaining a healthier lifestyle beyond January.