ByÂ Leo Babauta
We’re starting our 3rd month of the year, and after focusing on mindfulness and fitness, I invite you to build upon what you’ve been working on and apply it to what you eat.
Iâ€™m calling thisÂ theÂ Healthy Eating Challenge, and after a couple of months of focusing on mindful habits, I think we’re in a good place to start slowly changing our eating habits.
Notice the key word here: slowly. We are not trying to make drastic changes.
What we’re looking to do is one small change per week. Pick one of the mini-challenges below, commit to it in the #healthy-eating challenge channel in the Sea Change Slack community, stick to it for a week. Repeat the next week. I encourage you to keep doing the mini-challenges for the remainder of the month, even after that week is over.
How do you choose among these mini-challenges? By selecting something that would be an easy, positive change for you. Don’t choose anything you won’t be able to stick to.
What is healthy for you will be different than what is healthy for me. I believe in a vegan diet (out of compassion for animals) and try to eat whole foods as much as I can (but not religiously). That doesn’t mean you have to do that.
The one thing I believe is in trying to get foods that are full of nutrients â€” vegetables, fruits, beans (and legumes), nuts, seeds, whole grains â€” and eat less of the foods that are mostly empty of nutrients (processed foods, white bread and sugar, fried foods). Again, you don’t have to be religious about it â€” I eat cookies and French fries just like most normals!
The last thing I encourage you to do in this challenge is to continue your mindfulness practice as you make these healthy eating changes. Use what you’ve learned in the first two months and apply it to eating (more on this later).
Here are the mini-challenges (you do not have to do all of these, just pick one per week):
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
- Eat a fiber-filled 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.
- Eat a hearty salad for lunch every day.
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 youâ€™re full.
- Donâ€™t eat after 8 p.m.
- Set portion sizes and try sticking to them.
- Donâ€™t eat if youâ€™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 thatâ€™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 or almond milk on your cereal, for example).
- Try cooking with tofu, tempeh, or seitan.
- Try some awesome lentil recipes.
- If it sounds easy and youâ€™re already used to vegan food, try theÂ 7-Day Vegan Challenge.
Not every change listed above for everyone. Find changes that feel right to you, as I know not everyone agrees with everything Iâ€™ve listed.