newsletter sign up

Developed by the British Dietetic Association.


options for support struggling to lose weight

If you've tried to lose weight, and have slipped back into your old ways of eating, you're not alone. When making long-term lifestyle changes, it's so common to slip back into old habits (or 'relapse'), that it's considered a normal part of behaviour change!

So, don't be hard on yourself. Assess where you are NOW, in terms of motivation and use this time to stop the same thing happening again.

Learning from before

Think about what you've tried before to manage your weight.

  • What's worked well ?
  • Why did it work?
  • What were your reasons for stopping this approach / plan?

Now think about what's NOT worked and why?

Tips to manage relapse:

  • Think about any 'high-risk' situations when you're likely to have a 'slip-up' from your plan. Think about how to manage them better (try to come up with a few ideas).
  • Select the option that's most likely to work for you
  • Plan to try this out next time

Click on 'Keeping going' for more on this...

Examples of why people struggle to keep to their plan will vary. Here are some common ones and possible solutions

Common issues Possible solutions

Family or time pressures

  • Seek the support of a friend, partner or family member to look after the children at planned, regular times
  • Make a list of jobs that really need doing; include some activity/exercise time on your list and do it!

Less active job

  • Find a colleague to go for a walk with you at lunchtime
  • Walk or cycle to work, or part of the way, if possible
  • If you travel in the car a lot, take fresh fruit and low calorie drinks/snacks for the journey
  • Buy sandwiches at service stations instead of takeaways or pastries

"Comfort eating"

  • Try to identify the source of your feelings (angry, sad, bored etc)
  • Think of ways to deal with feelings, other than food
  • Use your food diary to work out times when you overeat

Social pressures

  • When eating out, opt for lower fat dishes and forget dessert - most of the time - then enjoy your favourite high fat food occasionally and get straight back on track the next day
  • Stick to sensible limits for alcohol, and alternate with low calorie drinks or mixers

Living alone

  • Check labels before buying ready-made meals. Choose low fat options (<3g fat/100g or <10g fat per serving) or supermarket healthy eating ranges
  • Always have a supply of: baked beans; tinned fish (e.g. tuna); tinned tomatoes; pasta, rice or noodles and low fat pasta sauce
  • Eat regularly and don't skip meals, especially breakfast

Take care of yourself

When you feel good about yourself, you'll think and act more positively and it might help you stick to your plan. Think of 20 things that make YOU feel good and build them into your life:

  • Daily or weekly
  • Monthly
  • Once or twice a year.

Examples that other people have given include:

  • Reading a good book
  • Buying a favourite magazine
  • Going to the cinema or theatre
  • Spending time with your children
  • Meeting a good friend for lunch
  • Walking the dog
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Relaxing in a luxurious bubble bath, preferably in candle light
  • Playing a favourite board game
  • Listening to music
  • Taking part in a sport
  • Having friends round for supper
  • Cooking
  • Clothes shopping
  • Reading the newspaper
  • Going for a swim and a sauna
  • Taking up a new hobby