This post contains affiliate links. All information in this post is based on my personal experiences and research. Please discuss any changes to your diet with your doctor or nutritionist. No information in this article is meant to replace medical advice. Please read the disclosures and disclaimers. Thank you!
The very first step to transitioning to a healthy lifestyle is to find out your “WHY”. What does the outcome of eating healthy look like for you? Is it losing weight, healing dis-ease in your body, or having more energy? Something else, maybe? Knowing your “WHY” will help you make better choices when you are faced with unhealthy foods.
Now, I know that a transition from the Standard American Diet (SAD) is really hard, because I’ve done it. Although I was always thin, I ate mostly junk food – a bagel for breakfast, spaghetti for lunch, and a meat and a veggie (with bread on the side) for dinner. Snacks were more wheat products or ice cream. I drank 1 or 2 cups of store-bought iced tea every day.
My wake up call came when my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, at 50 years old. I wanted to help her, so I began researching ways to heal cancer naturally. The common theme was that people who ate lots of processed food had a greater risk of cancer.
There was so much information online written by people who claimed that their raw food diet cured their cancer. It made a lot of sense to me, so I kept researching more and more about nutrition.
I remember reading about added white processed sugar in food and drinks, and that women shouldn’t eat more than 32 grams of added sugar PER DAY. The first nutrition label I read was my beloved iced tea. It had 27 grams of sugar per 8 oz. serving. 🙁 What a sad, eye-opening day…..
I decided to do a challenge and not drink iced tea for a week. I don’t drink coffee, so that was my main source of caffeine! It was difficult, but after a week, I didn’t have cravings for it anymore and it was easy to give it up for the greater good of my health!
DAY 1 – Record & Analyze
Start by recording what you’re eating. If it’s a processed food or drink, record the amount of calories, added sugar, and whether you were really hungry or just feeling peckish. Some products that have fruit in them are kind of tricky because they have natural sugars in addition to added sugars. So your record may not be 100% accurate, but it’s really just to give you an idea of how all of your food choices add up throughout your day.
Be really honest with your records and yourself! No one else will be looking at this and judging it! Record everything you ate, including those candies at the front desk of the office, or the free samples when you went grocery shopping, and what you munched on as you relaxed before bed.
At the end of the day, take a good hard look at the quantity and quality of the food you were eating without judging or shaming yourself. So see how many natural foods you ate versus how many processed foods you ate. Notice how many times you were actually hungry during the day. Add up all the added sugars in your food.
The next 6 days will be about beginning to make healthier choices every day. You can think of this as a mini challenge!
DAY 2 – Add 1 more Fruit
After you carefully examining your food diary from Day 1, make a commitment to eat 1 more serving of FRUIT than you did on the previous day. Again, record all food eaten and inspect your diary at the end of the day without judging or shaming yourself.
DAY 3 – Add one more Veggie (& Fruit)
Today, maintain the same amount of fruit as Day 2, and add 1 more serving of VEGGIES to a meal. Fill in the diary again and hopefully you notice a healthy upward trend starting here!
DAY 4 – Substitute water for sugary drink (& Fruit & Veggie)
Maintain the same amount of fruit and vegetables as Day 3, and today switch out one flavored drink, juice or coffee with WATER. You can add lemons, limes, or cucumbers to make the water more interesting if you don’t like the flavor. (Note – flavored waters in bottles usually have added sugar. This is not suggested to drink!) Keep filling in the food diary – you are doing great! You are already more than halfway through the week!
DAY 5 – Substitute Healthy Snack (& Fruit & Veggie & Water)
For today, continue adding the extra fruit, veggie and water. By now you should see some recurring unhealthy snacks that creep into your food diary every day. On this day, choose a healthy snack instead. For example, popcorn with olive and sea salt instead of potato chips or some dark chocolate instead of a candy bar. You’re so close! You’ve GOT this!
DAY 6 – New Dinner Recipe (& Fruit & Veggie & Water & Healthy Snack)
Make sure that you are varying your fruits, veggies, and snacks so you don’t get bored.
Also, find one new quick and easy recipe for a healthy dinner and make it! Try to cover almost ¾ of your plate with veggies. The remainder of your plate could be unprocessed meat with some carbs. For example, a small serving of eggs and rice, or chicken in quinoa.
DAY 7 – Congratulations! You did it! Now, CHALLENGE yourself…..
(& Fruit & Veggie & Water & Healthy Snack & Healthy Dinner)
It’s the last day! Today, go back through your whole week and find one unhealthy thing that you can challenge yourself to give up for the next week. Maybe for some it’s soda, or donuts, or small candies that add up to lots of sugar! Be persistent with adding in more healthy foods and ditching unhealthy ones.
TIP: Another idea for eating healthier is to change one meal that you usually eat out into an eat at home day. Restaurants are notorious for serving way more than one person should be able to eat in a sitting. See if you can recreate a meal in a smaller portion that you love to order when you’re out!
Also, one of the reasons I love eating out is because someone else does the dishes. But, rather than looking at the idea of washing dishes as a dreaded chore, look at it as some exercise you might not have gotten otherwise. (Mindset is powerful…)
I would be so happy to hear how the food diary and suggestions worked out for you! Please leave a comment below and share this page with anyone you know who could benefit from it!