Forming any habit is about consistency, and while it takes a little time for a habit to become second nature, starting with some simple steps that are achievable can help minimize the overwhelm and help give you the confidence and perseverance to continue to tackle the next healthy habit.
After a week, you might be eating more veggies, consuming more micro nutrients, minimizing ultra-processed foods, and understanding and respecting your body better. Over time, these habits will improve your well being and help you feel more confident and energetic.
A week’s worth of changes to help you change your eating habits
Day 1: Drink more water
Starting with something really easy is a great way to feel more accomplished and confident, and water has additional benefits that will make you feel good instantly. A leading cause of fatigue is related to insufficient fluid intake, so boosting your water intake can give you much-needed energy.
Plus, water keeps your digestive system moving so if you’re constipated and feeling bloated, it can help ease the situation. If you don’t care for plain water, try no-added sugar seltzer or flavored seltzer, or just liven up H20 with some fresh fruit or herbs (like strawberry and basil).
Day 2: Make mealtimes more memorable
When you’re overly distracted while eating or eating on-the-go (say, during your morning commute), it’s harder to be fully satisfied with meals. You’ll get more enjoyment out of meals and possibly feel fuller, longer if you slow down while you eat. Since it takes your brain 20 minutes to arrive at the table, make sure your meal lasts at least that long.
To extend meal times, chew thoroughly (which also benefits digestion), and put your utensils down between bites. Pause to consider what your food tastes like (crunchy, creamy, meaty, etc.) and enjoy the full experience. Try the Mexican Soup from the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.
Day 3: Add one veggie to your menu
If you’re not already a veggie-lover, start by thinking about something you already like. Maybe that’s pasta or eggs. Layer in some veggies (say, mushroom in your ravioli or asparagus with your eggs) and down the line, get curious about other ways you might enjoy more veggies. But it’s ok to ease into it!
Day 4: Assess your hunger and fullness
One of the best things you can do is to listen to your body better by recognizing when you’re hungry and when you’ve had enough to eat. We’re born to do this, but we learn to override these signals. Start to identify what it feels like to be hungry so you can respond appropriately, and also begin to notice what it feels like when you’re satisfied. When you get really in tune with these cues, you might find yourself leaving food on the plate or putting some of your homemade pizza away for another occasion.
One thing to note: There will always be times you eat when you’re not terribly hungry or continue to eat past fullness. It’s not realistic to expect otherwise! But the more you tune in to your own appetite, the better you can respect and nourish your body.
Day 5: Replace one snack with a fruit or veggie
Most Americans are snacking multiple times a day, but few are meeting fruit and veggie targets. Snacking is an opportunity to tide you over when you go a long stretch between meals, but it’s also a chance to slip in some nourishment. Research links additional portions of produce with increased happiness and life satisfaction, and a good place to get more produce is snack time.
Try pairing your produce with some protein or fat, both of which add flavor and help you stay fuller, longer. Examples include a banana with pumpkin seeds or walnuts, berries with yogurt, and carrots with guac.
Day 6: Eat a bigger breakfast
It’s so common to skimp on breakfast or skip it altogether, and it’s also common to reach for foods, like bagels, croissants, and muffins that don’t do a good job keeping you full and energized until lunch. In turn, this can lead to feeling distracted by hunger, irritable, and tired.
One of the best things you can do is to eat a balanced, nutritious breakfast that includes a good source of protein. This will help give your metabolism a slight boost and also ensure your meal satisfies you for a while.
You might want to top your avocado toast with an egg and some hemp seeds or have a smoothie with Greek yogurt, berries, and nut butter.
Day 7: Try a healthy swap
Try trading up a less healthy food with something healthier instead. That doesn’t mean swapping chips for carrots—that’s totally unsatisfying. But maybe you want to try roasted sweet potato fries, or roasted chickpeas, which are crunchy and can be flavored with savory seasonings. Or perhaps you want to try a cauliflower crust pizza or zucchini noodles or chickpea pasta.
The idea isn’t about restricting yourself or eliminating pleasures from your life. It’s about discovering healthier foods and recipes that can be just as delicious and satisfying.
One more thing: Eating well can sometimes feel overwhelming because it involves making so many decisions (about 200 per day!) and it involves sorting through recipes and advice.
Having a meal plan can help reduce the overwhelm and decision-making fatigue, while also providing recipes and showing you what nutritious meals look like. The Healthy Mommy 28 Day Challenge makes this really approachable and easy!
This article was written by the Healthy Mommy’s NEW nutrition director, Samantha Cassety. You can read all about Samantha here.
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