So many of us have tried to change our eating habits with very little long-term success. Often the results from “diets” are not permanent. It’s frustrating and defeating, and often causes people to think that this whole eating-healthy thing isn’t worth it because it doesn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great diets out there that will give you immediate results, but the problem is maintaining those results. We all know someone who has lost 40 pounds, only to gain 80 back. And the reasons are usually the same – the diet doesn’t ease you into huge changes nor does it teach you how to eat healthy to maintain your results.

In my opinion, what we eat is usually much harder to change than how much we move. Eating has such an emotional piece that many people don’t often recognize. Our food choices go back to our childhood. What did we eat growing up? What “comfort” foods did our parents make us when we were sick? The answer to these questions all play a role in what we eat today. The challenging part is many people think changing their nutrition and not moving or exercising is the way to lose weight. Most of the diets people try (Atkin’s, Weight Watchers, etc.) force people to cut out pretty much all carbs, sugar, fried foods, etc. I’m not saying by any means our diet should be full of these foods, but I do think that slowly cutting them out yields longer-lasting results than doing so drastically. It takes an insane amount of discipline to cut out any beloved food cold-turkey, let alone carbs and sugar which your body most likely craves if you’ve been eating them for years. Immediate and drastic changes, in any form, are often not sustainable. Try changing one thing at a time, and when it no longer feels like an issue remove another. Your results will be slower, but they will be sustainable. For your results to be sustainable, you need to actually learn to eat the right way!

I can’t tell you how many diets show you exactly what to eat, when to eat it, and how long to eat it for, but never tell you why. Why should I eat breakfast? Why does it matter how long I eat after a workout? Why should I chose this form of protein over another? If you are never taught the answers to these questions and others, how can you be successful when the plan isn’t laid out in front of you? My job as a nutrition coach isn’t always to change every aspect of your diet. It’s mainly to teach you how to eat for life. It’s to teach you the importance of the foods you eat and when you eat them, not just tell you what to do. I want my clients to be successful on their own, or else I failed at my job.

Before you decide to change your nutrition, make sure you have done your research, and most importantly, ask a professional for help. If the plan you chose doesn’t have these two concepts woven into it, my best advice is to avoid it. You will be frustrated and unhappy when your results are short lived. I am always here to help you reach your goals, and I will never let you walk away from a nutrition change without the knowledge to be able to sustain it yourself.

Elyse Buchbinder is co-owner of B-Strong Athletics and has been working as a nurse and nutrition and fitness coach for over a decade.