Start a healthy new diet today – and stick with it for a lifetime.


How long do you think you can stick to a new plan? Find a duration that you’re 100 percent confident you can achieve, even if it’s just a couple of days. “Once you make it to your goal date, start the process over,” says Dr Mary Vernon. “This not only establishes the notion that you can be successful, but also gives you a chance to start noticing that eating better makes you feel better, reinforcing your desire to continue.”


If your diet’s only purpose is to help you finally achieve sixpack abs (or even just a two-pack), it may be hard to stick with for the long haul. The solution? “Provide yourself with additional motivators,” says Dr Jeff Volek. He suggests monitoring migraines, heartburn, acne, mouth ulcers and sleep quality, along with common measures of cardiovascular health. “Discovering that your new diet improves the quality of your life and health can be powerful motivation,” says Volek.


Okay, you overindulged. What’s the next step? “Forget about it,” says James Newman, a nutritionist, who followed his own advice to shed 113kg. (That’s right, 113kg.) “One meal doesn’t define your diet, so don’t assume that you’ve failed or fallen off the wagon,” he says. Institute a simple rule: follow any “cheat” meal with at least five healthy meals and snacks. That ensures that you’ll be eating right more than 80 percent of the time.


Sure, you’ve heard this one before. But consider that if you sleep for six to eight hours and then skip breakfast, your body is essentially running on fumes by the time you reach work. And that sends you desperately seeking sugar, which is easy to find. “The most convenient foods are often the same ones you should be avoiding,” says Berkowitz. That’s because they are usually packed with sugar (chocolate bars, soda) or other fastdigesting carbohydrates (biscuits, chips). Which leads to our next strategy.


It’s time for a regime change. Clean out your cupboard and fridge, then restock them with almonds and other nuts, cheese, fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna, chicken and salmon. And do the same at work. “By eliminating snacks that don’t match your diet but providing plenty that do, you’re far less likely to find yourself at the pastry counter, drive-through or the nearest vending machine,” says Dr Christopher Mohr.


It’s true: they make all-natural biscuits. But even if a biscuit is made with organic cane juice (the hippie name for sugar), it’s still junk food. Ditto for lots of “health foods” in the health aisle. That’s because hippie sweeteners raise your blood sugar just like the white stuff. “If you’re going to eat a biscuit, accept that you’re deviating from your plan, and then revert back to your diet afterwards,” says Berkowitz. “By convincing yourself that it’s healthy, you’re only encouraging a bad habit.”


Have a craving for sweets, even though you ate just an hour ago? Imagine eating a large, sizzling steak instead. “If you’re truly hungry, the steak will sound good, and you should eat,” says Dr Richard Feinman. “If it doesn’t sound good, your brain is playing tricks on you.” His advice: change your environment, which can be as easy as doing 15 push-ups or finding a different task to focus on


“Before you take a bite of food, consider whether it’s moving you one step closer to your goals or one step further away,” says certified strength and conditioning specialist Alwyn Cosgrove. This won’t stop you from making a poor choice every single time, but it does encourage the habit of thinking long-term about what you’re eating right now. The pay-off is that “80 to 90 percent of the time, you’ll make a better decision