Giving into a craving doesn’t mark the end of your weight loss journey. When thinking about your diet, it’s helpful to look at the big picture. In addition, it’s important to make small changes each day to get you back on track. Here are some tips to overcome dietary setbacks. 

Ditch the “all or nothing” mentality.

Realize that losing weight and changing your lifestyle really is a journey! No journey is perfect; there will always be hurdles to jump over. If you get off track with one isolated event (you ate a high-calorie meal or didn’t make it to a workout class), it’s not the end of your weight loss. Remind yourself that it’s okay: you still have the rest of the day or the rest of the week to make healthy choices. Check your weight loss progress over the course of the week versus each day. A healthy average weight loss is one to two pounds a week. 

Don’t starve yourself. 

After a setback, continue to eat five to six meals of protein regularly throughout the day. This will keep your metabolism revving and prevent you from cravings or overeating again. Skipping meals and eating too few calories will only slow down your weight loss results. Starving your body of calories and nutrients can lead to muscle loss and fat gain.

Food journal. 

Food journaling is a helpful tool for managing weight loss and for overcoming dietary setbacks. Recording what you eat and how you feel before, during, and after each meal can help you recognize emotional food patterns. For example, if you make a note that junk food makes you feel sluggish, you may choose a healthier option the next time you’re in a crunch to avoid negative feelings. Recording what you eat also brings awareness to how your week is going. For example, perhaps you didn’t eat your best today but flipping through your journal, you see that you’ve had three consecutive days of eating healthy—this can help build positive feelings and motivation to get back on track. 

Choose nutrient-dense foods. 

If you veered off your diet and ate high-calorie-dense foods, focus on choosing nutrient-dense foods instead of skipping the rest of your snacks and meals for the day. Fruits and vegetables are great options because they contain a variety of vitamins and minerals your body needs and are naturally low in calories. They are also high in fiber, aiding digestion after a big meal, and will help keep you feeling full. 

Don’t step on the scale. 

Unhealthy foods tend to be high in sodium which causes water retention. Water retention will cause your total weight to increase on the scale. It’s normal to see temporary weight gain after eating off plan, so why make yourself feel bad by checking the scale? Instead, drink plenty of water to flush out the excess water weight and focus on the above tips to get back on track. Wait until your weekly weigh-in to see your weight loss progress. 

Remember your “why.” 

Always reflect on why you are on this journey to begin with. What was that defining moment that pushed you to make a lifestyle change? What are the benefits of healthy eating that you are looking forward to? Your “why” is the reason you are making this change and should be your most important motivation to keep going. 


Dietary setbacks are a normal part of a weight loss journey, and learning how to overcome them is important for long-term success. Don’t let one mishap keep you away from your goals. 

If dietary setbacks are slowing you down from reaching your goals or you find yourself struggling to overcome them alone, reaching out for a free consultation at one of our clinics may be an option for you. We offer one-on-one counseling with our weight loss counselors, who will work with you to create long-lasting solutions and behavior changes that will help you overcome obstacles throughout your weight loss journey and better prepare you for continued future success. Call us today to learn more about our programs.