It has been a few weeks (OK, maybe months) since you last hit the gym, and burgers and fries have somehow become a staple in your diet, along with indulgent dinner parties and outings. Don’t worry, this can happen to the best of us, but the important thing is to get back on track as soon as you can. How? Here’s our step by step guide to restarting your healthy eating habits.

Step 1: Don’t Feel Guilty
Punishing yourself for something that is in the past is no use. Accept your mistakes and flaws, and move on as quickly as possible. Some people even find that a cheat meal or two helps them get the cravings out of their mind, meaning they can go back to healthy eating with a more positive attitude and happier mind-set. So no matter how badly you think you messed up or how many pasta bowls you ate in the past week, put it all behind you, and move on.

Step 2: Identify Your Triggers
There’s always an underlying cause that leads to our loss of motivation, and discovering this trigger or cause is the first step to making sure it does not happen again. The trigger is often nothing of concern, for example travelling more than usual or party season and tempting social settings. However, sometimes indulging in unhealthy foods is a subconscious coping mechanism to deal with personal and emotional stress, find comfort in hard times, or even deal with depression. In the latter case, it is extremely important that you do your best to cut off this trigger. This will lead to a better relationship with food, but most importantly an overall happier you.

Step 3: Recall What You Miss
Whether it is having more energy or better digestion, there is bound to be something that you miss about your previously healthy lifestyle. Think about what you are missing out on, sometimes even writing down a list and looking back at it daily can help keep you focused and grounded.

Step 4: Start Off Slow
Putting unrealistic goals like going to the gym 4 times a week and only eating salads from here on will probably do more harm than good, you won’t be able to follow through for long and will end up failing, ultimately causing a vicious circle. For this reason, we recommend starting off slow with the healthy habits that you enjoy the most first. If you love working out and hate eating greens, go to the gym for the first few days and once you have that tackled focus on improving your eating habits one by one.

Step 5: Eyes on the Prize
The only way you can create sustainable healthy changes is if you have something to work towards. This can be an event, or a longer-term goal like better health. Whatever it is, you need to have a constant source of motivation to keep you going when temptations are high. When restarting your healthy lifestyle after a period of indulging, re-evaluate your goals. Try to write down some short term and long term goals and tick each one off as you reach it.