What to do if you fall off the diet wagon

In March I featured a story about a woman, Faith Clemente, who lost 20 pounds in 7 weeks.  How did she do it?  She simply signed up for my email updates and received a free resource guide instantly in her inbox.  This guide has the best books, movies and recipe websites for adopting a health promoting, plant-based diet.  

Faith Clemente, Mother of 2, Legal Secretary, Newberg, OR

Faith Clemente, Mother of 2, Legal Secretary, Newberg, OR

Faith utilized these resources.  She read the books, watched the movies and learned about a whole foods, plant-based diet.  She implemented what she learned and began losing about 3 pounds per week all while raising 2 kids and working as a legal secretary.

How is Faith doing now?  

Today I update you on Faith's progress and give you 3 take-home points for adopting and maintaining a plant-based diet, including what to do if you fall off the wagon, inspired by Faith's story.

Here's what Faith has to say now...

(Two months later) I pretty much went back to eating the way I grew up eating. Meat, dairy, milk, processed food etc. I gained (back) a few pounds but what I noticed the most was I felt icky. I didn’t have energy after work or even enough to get me through work. My skin broke out with acne really bad, and I just didn’t feel vibrant. My mood wasn’t bright anymore. I was not as patient with my kids and I even snapped at my husband.

Lesson #1.

Most people 'fall off the wagon' during their transition to a whole foods, plant-based diet, like Faith did at some point.  This is OKAY.  

It doesn't mean you're failure, a screw-up or that you can't do this.  It simply means you have to try again.  Don't put yourself down, just start eating plant-based again.  With each try, it gets easier and easier until eventually, you eat this way everyday for years. 

Going back on the diet should be even easier this time too, because you've most likely already experienced the benefits from a plant-based diet.  Your energy has most likely increased, you've lost weight, your complexion improves and your bowels are flowing smoothly, some of which Faith experienced (see her full story here).  

Then, after reverting to your old eating habits, you fill sick and 'icky' as Faith put it, further motivating you to eat well again and hop back on the plant-based eating wagon.

Faith continues… 

I’ve learned that if I eat plant based 100 percent I lose weight. If i eat plant based most of the time I maintain and not gain anything.

So as of Monday I have started eating whole food plant based 24/7. And have lost 2 lbs in 4 days.

Lesson #2

The greatest health benefits come from greatest diet adherence.

The more compliant you are, the greater and quicker results you will experience.  

As Dr. Pam frequently explains, getting results from a plant-based diet is like opening a combination lock.  If you know 2 of the 3 numbers, the lock won't open.  If you eat the diet 75% of the time, you won't experience optimal health.  If you know all 3 lock numbers in the right combination, the lock opens.  Likewise, if you eat a plant-based diet everyday like both Dr. Popper and I recommend, the lock will open, and you'll experience the health results you want.

Just as Faith said, when she eats plant-based 100%, she loses weight.  When treats and other foods creep into her diet she maintains her current weight or gains the weight back.

Research supports this too.  Dr. Dean Ornish found a correlation between dietary adherence and percent diameter stenosis (the "clogged-up-ness" of arteries) in a 5 year study.  The tertile of participants with the greatest level of adherence experienced the most disease reversal and the tertile adhering least, halted the progression of the disease, but did not reverse it (P = 0.04) (1).  

(I write about this more in my Master's thesis published here).  

It's great to hear that Faith is continuing forward on her plant-based journal and although she fell off the wagon for a bit, now she's back on and continuing forward.  

What are some things you can do to help you get back on track and reduce the likelihood of falling off the wagon again?

This brings me to lesson number 3... 

Lesson #3

Get support.

Seriously.  Research shows people who get support when adopting and maintaining a new diet are more successful than those who don't (to the point that you may not become successful at all).  

A study by Neal Barnard, MD and team found that at both 1 and 2 years after adopting a plant-based diet, the group that had support lost significantly more weight than those who were unsupported (2).

As a plant-based Food Coach and nutrition educator, I am your #1 cheerleader for helping you maintain and plant-based diet and perfect the diet to get the results you want.

One great way you can get support, is to set-up a monthly appointment with me via phone, Skype or in person.  These appointments are equally or even more important than you going to your doctor regularly to discuss your medication.  Take your health seriously, learn how to change your diet and keep it that way.  Get support now.  

These appointments will hold you more accountable to your diet.  I'll review a 5 day food journal of yours each month and we'll discuss your progress and problems.  Likewise, I'll be honest with you and let you know where you need to improve to get the results that you want (while having a fun :).  

If you're interested in a monthly coaching session with me (I'd love to meet you!), click here.  Or, see how I've already helped others achieve their goals, here.  

And if you're in Oregon...

Get a dose of support from me at Love Yoga on September 14th for my 'How to Lose 1-3 Pounds Per Week' event (with taste-tests!).  Pre-registration is required seating is limited to just 25 seats.

Now I'd love to hear from you.  Answer today's Take Control Now question and support yourself and others by creating a community with comments.

Take Control Now

Have you ever 'fallen off the diet wagon?'  How did you get back on? 

Please share your thoughts by clicking 'comments' at the end of this page.


1. Ornish, D., Scherwitx, L., Billings, J., Gould, L., Merritt, T., Sparler, S., Armstrong, W., Ports, T., Kirkeeide, R., Hogeboom, C. & Brand, R. 1998, "Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease", The Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 230, no. 23, pp. 2001.

2. Turner-McGrievy, G.M., Barnard, N.D. & Scialli, A.R. 2007, "A two-year randomized weight loss trial comparing a vegan diet to a more moderate low-fat diet", Obesity, vol. 15, no. 9, pp. 2276-2281.