As we discussed in the Healthy Eating Habit Overview, we’re going to take a gradual approach during this challenge, with small changes.
This approach works whether you have lots of change to make (like I did in 2005, when I was really unhealthy) … or if you’re already pretty healthy but just have a few things you’d like to improve.
Here’s how it will work:
- Pick one small, easy change from the lists below to start with.
- Make a simple habit plan to stick to that habit this week.
- At the end of the week, review how your change went. If you had obstacles, come up with a possible solution and add it to your habit plan.
- If you did well by the end of the week, pick a 2nd habit to try for the next week. If you didn’t do well, either make an adjustment and try the same change, or pick another change you think will be easier.
And we’ll repeat this process each week this month.
The Lists of Small Changes
I can’t possibly come up with an exhaustive list of healthy eating changes you might make, but here’s a series of lists to get you started. You should feel free to make other changes, but just don’t do anything too big.
The main criteria for picking one of these changes are these: 1) does the change seem both healthy and enjoyable? and 2) does it seem easy?
If you say yes to all of that, then it’s a great pick. If it seems easy but not necessarily enjoyable, that’s still OK.
1. Adding healthy things:
- Eat one vegetable at lunch/dinner (pick one meal)
- Add one more vegetable to lunch/dinner (pick one meal)
- Eat fruit for breakfast
- Eat fruit and raw nuts for a snack
- Eat veggie with hummus for a snack
- Eat a healthy protein for dinner/lunch
- Have yogurt for breakfast
- Have a tofu scramble with veggies for breakfast
- Drink green tea in the morning or afternoon (pick one)
- Add whole grains to your meals.
2. Changing your approach:
- Learn a couple new recipes this week
- Eat at home more (add a couple of nights to whatever amount you normally eat at home)
- Decide on healthy items to order before you go out to eat with friends.
- Bring healthy food to a pot-luck party or work gathering.
- Cook your healthy food in big batches and eat during the week.
- Eat slowly and stop before you’re full.
- Don’t eat after 8 p.m.
- Set portion sizes and try sticking to them.
- Don’t eat if you’re not actually hungry.
- Try for high-volume, lower-calorie foods: vegetables, beans, fruits rather than white starches, meats, and fried foods.
3. Cutting out unhealthy things (look at what you do now, and set a target that’s lower):
- Eat fruit instead of one of the sweets you normally eat.
- Drink tea instead of soda.
- Drink coffee with less or no sugar.
- Cut back on the number of alcoholic drinks you have by one.
- Eat less pastries, bread and other white flour.
- Eat less fried foods.
- Switch from white rice to brown rice.
- Eat less fast food.
- Bring a healthy lunch to work instead of eating fast food.
- Try Ezekiel flourless cereal instead of sweet cereal.
- Switch from processed meats (sausages, bacon, etc.) to real meat, or fish.
4. Vegan stuff (a few people asked for some suggestions):
- Try eating one meal a day with no meat.
- Reduce dairy or egg intake (use soymilk on your cereal, for example).
- Try cooking with tofu, tempeh, or seitan.
- Try some awesome lentil recipes.
- If it sounds easy and you’re already used to vegan food, try the 7-Day Vegan Challenge.
As I said, this list isn’t exhaustive, nor is every change listed above for everyone. Find changes that feel right to you, as I know not everyone agrees with everything I’ve listed.