5 Tips to Stop Cheating on Your Diet

It’s been said that changing your diet is harder than changing religions.

And if you’ve read my old posts you’d see I fell off the bandwagon over and over again. Jordan didn’t have this problem, but there sure are many of us who do.

I struggled with this so bad, I once wrote Jordan a check for $1,000 dollars. If I cheated on SCD he was to cash it immediately and spend it.

At the time I had over $24,000 in credit card debt,$ 90,000 dollars in student loans, and was making $40,000 dollars a year working my day job. Not only that, but we lost over $4,000 dollars that year on SCD Lifestyle.

In other words, I didn’t have $1,000 dollars.

If he would have cashed it, I would have missed a student loan payment and my rent.  Which is precisely why I was able to go 90 days straight during the summer on SCD.

The summer is the hardest time of the year for me. And I knew if I was going to get healthy I needed to stop the vicious cycle of self-sabotage.

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There are plenty of underlying reasons for this self-sabotage, like hormone imbalance, neurotransmitter imbalance, gut infections, emotional wounds and mental weakness. The amazing thing I’ve learned is that while all the above reasons are valid, your mind can create them or correct them and overcome them almost instantly.

Huge Results Require Uncomfortable Actions

Positive results require getting outside your comfort zone. Whether you want more money, better health, or a spouse… the reason you don’t have it right now is because of the actions you are presently taking. But you can change those actions whenever you are ready to get uncomfortable.

If you need a completely new diet, it can be a daunting idea.

You will need to learn to shop, prepare, cook and clean a whole new set of foods. And while that sounds hard the information to learn these physical skills is readily available. The hard part of the change is actually the mental part.

“Knowledge is potential power,” as Jim Kwik says. If all we needed to make massive health changes was more information, there’d be a lot more healthy people walking around.

The reality is knowledge is not enough.

Almost 4 years ago when I started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) I realized right away that it was as much a mental battle as it was money, habit or anything else. I could Google almost any of my problems and find an answer in almost 10 minutes. Sure there were some unknowns but I could find the information very fast 90% of the time.

So, why did I fall off the diet several times in the beginning? Why is it so hard for so many of us to switch to SCD? I believe it’s because this change is psychological.

If You Don’t Get Your Head Right, You Won’t Eat Right

Our minds are infinitely powerful both good and bad. As you begin to change how you eat, around every corner your mind is waiting to trick you. Almost everyone has to process through thoughts like this:

  • What will others think of my new diet?
  • They will make fun of me
  • I’ll start next week after the dinner party
  • This new diet can’t be all that great, I’ve been eating healthy the whole time
  • Pizza, Beer, and Chocolate taste so good I can’t give it up

And it goes on and on. Your mind will give you every answer you need to never start the diet. And then one day you will start.  Now the whole thing begins again; there’s a million reasons to cheat.

Halloween? Thanksgiving? Your birthday? Super Bowl? Christmas Dinner? This weekend??? If you let your mind run, it will create endless reasons to cheat, quit and pause your diet.

So, that’s why we need to prepare for this trap and just accept that it’s part of being human. We can plan ahead to short-circuit all of these problems using the tips below. The more weight you stack against your mind the better chance you have to succeed.

1) Old School Journaling and Tracking

You don’t need a smart phone, you don’t need more money, all you need is a pen and paper (and a big pinch of dedication). Because the oldest and simplest way to make sure you start and stick to your diet is to journal morning and night.

Don’t hold back, curse, get rowdy and tell your journal just how much you’re struggling and succeeding – how much you want a burger or cupcake. Let it all out on paper and then read it.

It sounds too simple but it’s brutally effective.

And while you’re at it, talk about how you feel. How many bowel movements did you have? How was your energy, mood and sex drive? Record them.

If awesome health changes happen like they should, in about a week you’ll forget just how bad you feel right now. Trust me, I’ve done it myself and coached 100s through it. We all forget.

A powerful way to prevent your mind from forgetting this pain and to work through these complex emotions is to write day and night.

Better yet… combine it with a tech idea like the next tip: LIFT.

2) New School Lift App

Lift is an app that is all about the name. The goal is to lift you up and support you in your new life change. And it does it through logging in each day to record that you did what you committed to doing.

The best part? It keeps you honest because there’s no way to go backwards and say of course I stayed true yesterday. Nope, you mark it down today or forget it.

And then others in your group get to congratulate you when you keep to the diet and see when you “forget.”

And over time it keeps track of how long you’ve made the change and trust me after 80 days of green you’ll be really upset if you score a red for skipping a meal.

Give it a shot and then watch as other’s join the Specific Carbohydrate Diet group.

3) Make it HURT by Putting Money Up

Some of us just need a good kick in the rear to keep going with a new diet. And luckily there’s a solution; it’s called Stickk.com. It’s a website where you can make your new idea real…

By betting money that you’ll actually do it.

See some of us need a bit more motivation and the loss of $100, $500, or, like my story earlier, $1000 might just be what you need. When you sign up for this site there is no going back. You either do it or you lose money.

It’s a simple, but effective way to use technology and money to keep you on track.

4) Announce it to the World (Social Pressure)

There are some changes that are best kept close to the heart. But let’s face it, food is an integral part of our culture. Your co-workers, friends and family will begin the question barrage the minute you say no to cake or pizza. And you won’t be able to run and hide. You’ll be sitting in the fire of their questions.

It’s uncomfortable to say the least, unless…

You preempt them. You start the fire yourself and then spread the news. With pride and hope you announce to those close to you what you are doing, what you can and cannot eat. And don’t back down for a minute. Talk about it all the time. Be proud of it. Most people will never be as bold as you.

And then go to the next level by announcing it on Facebook, twitter or your social media outlet of choice. Get help from those in your network. In my experience they will be more supportive and less judgmental than those close to you. But they will hold your feet to fire if you cheat.

Tell your followers you’ll post your meals each day or check in after dinner and tell them how it’s going. Every. Single. Day. No excuses. And don’t forget to announce it on our Facebook page.

The social pressure of those around you can be a powerful motivator, so leverage your network to make this great change in your health.

5) Create a Contract – Signed in Blood

Ha, just kidding… you still with me? No blood is actually needed for this step but a contract can be a powerful symbol of trust. No one wants to let down a trusted loved one.

When the ice cream is calling your name… if you have a contract with a spouse or parent that says you’ll do 60 – 180 days straight of a certain diet, it’s a very symbolic and powerful way to keep you in-line.

Our culture is one in which we drill into our kids at a young age not to break their word and especially to those nearest to them. We actually recommended it in our eBook 3 years ago when we wrote the first version. And people still send us emails thanking us for the idea, because while we share many ideas this one itself can be the most powerful of all.

Remember this journey to health isn’t just about you. It’s about those who love you, everyone you talk to, and the ones who look up to you. It might seem like a selfish journey at times but it’s distinctly not. As you change and get healthy you’ll become a source of inspiration for everyone else, especially the one you signed the contract with.

Throw Your Shoe Over the Fence

Imagine you bump into a fence and look up to so it is at least 8 feet tall maybe taller. If you could get over this fence, which looks impassable, your health would be forever great. But here you stand neither in shape nor ready to climb something that high. Yet, that’s all that’s left between you and your dreams.

Well, one way to get over it could be to throw your shoe over the fence. It’s an idea that comes from the self-help industry. For the ladies, if it was your favorite pair you might go get it. But for us guys I wouldn’t bet on it. So, next I’d suggest throwing your wallet or purse over that fence. At that point, you have to go get it. Because if you don’t, you lose money and a bunch of time going to the DMV to get a new license.

The point is: you’ll figure out a way to get over the fence. And that’s the message of this post.

Use the tools above. Pick the one that scares you the most; the one that makes your stomach drop and your heart flutter, because that’s the one that will propel you to your new goal.

And if you are really bold you’ll use several, because creating new habits is hard work and stacking the deck in your favor will only serve you to succeed.

Are you struggling to stick to your diet?  Tell me about it below.


Steven Wright

About Steven Wright

Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started HealthyGut.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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9 thoughts on “5 Tips to Stop Cheating on Your Diet

  1. Avatar

    This is a great article and has helped. Thanks for the app links. Im only new to SCD, I feel off course, and learnt from my mistake, and had a huge attitude shift, recently. I am now recomitted, and realise I need to take responsibility for my health and not rely to heavily on others, whom this does effect.

  2. Avatar

    Been with ulcerative colitis for two years now and my biggest battle that I face is having an unsupportive family. I am 18 and still living at home (full time student) and both my parents and siblings refuse to alter or change their diets to provide me with some support. My dad is the healthiest eater in the family yet will encourage me to cheat because he feels as if I’m being deprived of all the joys normal children have. No, I’m not perfect but I’d say I stick to the diet 95% of the time – I’m a hormonal teenager, sometimes that spoonful of icecream feels necessary when I’m down. If I could did our fridges and pantries of all the chocolate, chips and processed foods it would be such a large help and motivational boost yet mum refuses to budge. Might I add, over the past year as a family we have gotten generally healthier but no where near enough for me to start healing and getting better. I’m out of all ideas, I don’t know what to do. I know all will be fixed once I move out but realistically that can never happen. I’m forced to lock myself in my room instead to eliminate the temptation of wandering into the kitchen when hungry…not to mention my colitis does get worse with stress and the lack of support I endure could easily be the biggest issue on my mind.

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    my problem is that I have gone from eating all processed food/fast food etc. etc. to eating very healthy with no results!! I am on entocort yet any new food I add even if healthy still triggers a flare. I am frustrated, depressed and when that happens I end up eating a nut butter muffin which triggers nauseas but I don’t care. I just want some food besides the daily beef, bison or chicken and green beans or carrots. I was eating SCD yogurt 3x a day and now cannot tolerate it. UGH! I don’t even want to get up in the morning cause I have no idea what to eat anymore. I am at a loss. don’t want to be here anymore as you get no help from the specialists except saying they can take out your colon. I have lymphocytic colitis since jan and went SCD march with a few cheats then completely SCD starting may and still cannot increase any additional foods. Whats the deal here? what am I missing? I believe only the really mentally strong can do this diet. I am not mentally strong suffer from depression for years due to thyroid disease for 16 years. Not on any antidepressants as the SCD put the fear of god in me to not take anything with sugar or lactose. any thoughts would be appreciated thxs

    • Avatar


      Many of us have had colitis for many many years… going on 8years for me. I’ve never been in remission once. I started SCD over a year ago and believe it has help me from staying out of a hospital, but hasn’t relieved me from my symptoms… I’m basically stuck on the all meat diet… and I can eat eggs, spinach, ched, and testing scd yog again. I’m still not normal, just “liveable”. Any of the fodmaps foods… are a big no no. I combined fodmaps with SCD. I’ve tried everything under the sun to try to get me into remission/”cure” me, but nothing as of yet. And on top of that my doc believes I had a candida infestation because my whole body itched for literally 6months after taking a round of Xifaxan for 6days… So if you think colitis is bad, add on top itching non stop for 6months and not being able to sleep.

      I did find God in the middle of this, and He has helped me stay positive. I know I will find my “cure”. I just haven’t found the right tweak yet for it all to fall into place.

      Hang in there. This is a terrible disease, but it is defeatable. Keep trying new things and researching. And I believe there is a reason for everything…

      Take care.

  4. Avatar

    This was a great post, thanks. I usually just read without commenting but Nancy’s concern for her 15 year old caught my attention. Parenting is hard enough without adding oversight of a restrictive diet to the mix. Steven’s advice is good and practical. I recently got an interesting ebook for kids and teens who have food restrictions (like with GAPS, SCD, Paleo, anything). It was written by a teen who has been dealing with this lifestyle for years. It had a lot of helpful ideas and good advice for teens and is written FOR teens. My kids often more readily take advice from their peers and it was a great find for my house (who wouldn’t get tired of hearing mom say the same things over and over?!). It’s just a couple of bucks on Amazon. I don’t have anything to do with the book, just passing on something that might help.

  5. Avatar

    i start scd 4 month a go i am feeling good ones a one i get flare up but it is hard to stick with the diet i like beard so when i see my family eat beard i break my promise I REALLY needed this. I have been starting Thank you!

  6. Avatar

    Yes, it’s sometimes hard to stick with the diet, but feeling good is the payoff. And it only takes a small reminder of the “bad stuff” to get me back on track. I’ve only been at this for a couple of months, but every day I find new, delicious, HEALTHFUL things to eat. It’s getting easier.

  7. Avatar

    How do i get my 15 year old to stick to the diet. He would do anything to get out of pain and stay out of the hospital when he was diagnosed at 9 years old. Now at 15 one of his defense mechanisms is to ignore and forget. Its his way of dealing with it. But at 15 thats what the kids do they go out to eat. Yes he does stick pretty good to the diet, but the little bit of cheating is now starting to catch up to him. I’m afraid hes going to have to crash again just to realize how important all of this is. But if he crashes again, im worried the damage would be irreversable. To date he has not had any surgeries, and have been off of meds since he was 11 years old. His last blood work his crp and sed rate were elevated and iron was very low. I am currently try to get him on track so we can have the blood work done again. any advice is appreciated.

    • Steven Wright

      My best advise is to be and act the way you wish him too and inspire him. Don’t push to much and instead talk about how you enjoy eating a diet similar to his and make delicious foods that will be hard to resist. He’ll likely keep testing the boundaries as he’s a kid. So to protect him I’d encourage you to get advanced testing to make sure he has robust Thyroid, Adrenal and Sex hormone status. I haven’t seen a an IBD person with good levels of cortisol yet, I’m starting to believe it’s the pink elephant in the room regarding inflamed digestive tracts.

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