Toggle mobile menu visibility

Manage slip-ups and get back on track with your healthy eating

A 'slip-up' is a term for when you make an unplanned move away from your healthy eating goals and plans.

For example, you had a slice of chocolate cake after your evening meal when your plan was to swap desserts for fruit.

Why do slip-ups happen?

Unplanned slip-ups usually happen when:

  • You're hungry. It might be because you're not eating at regular times, or you haven't been able to prepare meals.
  • You're in a situation out of your normal routine, such as going out for a meal.
  • Your dietary plan is too strict. It's important to be flexible with your lifestyle choices so you don't feel deprived.
  • You experience negative emotions (feel stressed, tired, or bored)

Managing difficult emotions if you have a slip-up

Slip-ups happen to everyone. When they happen, don't beat yourself up about it and give up on your healthy eating goals altogether.

One unhealthy choice doesn't undo all your efforts, if you're making healthy choices most of the time. Balance is part of a healthy lifestyle. This can include making less healthy choices sometimes.

Try to avoid 'all or nothing' thinking where you see things in black and white and use words such as 'always', or 'never'. For example: "I've eaten the cake, I'll never succeed at reaching my goal".

It's important not to feel like you have "fallen off the bandwagon" completely. Don't say: "I've ruined all my hard work, I feel guilty, I've let myself down".

You've had a small diversion, and you'll get back on your road to a healthier lifestyle. You can still make a healthier choice the next time you sit down to eat. Instead try to look at slip-ups in a more balanced way.

Thinking positively is the key. Here are two positive examples:

  • "Even though I've eaten some cake and had a slip up today, I've been doing my best and making healthy eating choices most of the time"
  • "I accept that I've overindulged this weekend, but I'll plan ahead and make healthy meal choices this coming mid-week".

Moving forward after a slip-up

Learning from the experience is one of the most helpful things you can do after you've had a slip-up. Rather than focusing on what it was that you ate, think about:

  • How will you move forward?
  • What can you learn from it?
  • How can you respond to it?

It can be helpful to come up with a plan to deal with a similar situation. This will help you stay on track with your healthy eating.

One such plan is an 'If-Then' plan. They are a good way of making new habits stick. For example: "IF a colleague brings in cake at lunch time... THEN I will make sure I have a healthy sweet treat in my bag that I can eat instead."

See our advice for planning for potential problems to help you make your own 'If Then' plans.  

Check your goals are still achievable

It's important to review your healthy eating goals after having a slip-up, to make sure they're still achievable. If not, think about breaking your goal down into smaller achievable steps. You could tackle these in the short term, maybe over a week, to help you get back on track.

Our advice on goal setting and planning to eat more healthily will help you set small, achievable goals to get back on track with your healthy eating.