Anyone who’s struggled with their health, fitness and diet knows the situation all to well. It usually starts at the end of a binge period where you’ve had too much to drink, hit up Krispy Kreme a few too many times, and neglected your workouts in favor of watching TV. Then you pick a day–usually Monday–where you’re going to change completely. Starting Monday you’ll eat perfectly, go to the gym every day and take care of yourself! Then your coworker brings donuts on Tuesday…
This is all too common with people trying to make positive changes in their lives. They know they need to make a lot of changes, and they’re so motivated and excited to get started that they try to become a different person over night. Unfortunately, this excitement and motivation is hard to sustain, and they all too often fall into the same old habits. The solution is simple: change slowly. Identify the changes you want to make, and then tackle them one at a time. It’s hard to totally upend your lifestyle all at once, but you can make small changes, say, cutting out your afternoon cookie, a lot more easily. You could use this method for anything, but in our experience clients struggle the most with diet, so we’ve created a five step guide to help you eat a diet with more vegetables and less processed and refined junk.
Week 1: Eat More Vegetables
This one is the easiest to start with, because it doesn’t involve cutting anything out. You can keep doing everything the way you have been, just try to eat a couple of servings of vegetables every day. A great way to make this happen is by adding juicing into your routine. Making an 8-16 ounce juice every morning will add a few servings of vegetables in a tasty juice.
Week 2: Cut Out/Down Sweets
For week 2, focusing on getting rid of the worst offenders of an unhealthy diet is key. If you think you can handle it, try cutting out sodas, cookies, ice cream, etcetera entirely. If that’s too much, no worries, we understand. A cheat meal is a great tool to help you feel less deprived when cleaning up your diet. Maybe plan one or two meals per week when you can eat whatever you want, and save the sugary treats for then.
Week 3: Cut Out Refined Grains
Refined grains are sugar in disguise. White bread, pasta and rice are grains that have been taken out of their natural delivery vehicle through processing, which causes them to cause the same type of blood sugar and insulin havoc as a candy bar. For week 3, try to switch over to whole grains, opting for stone ground varieties when possible. If you want to go even further, and avoid gluten, look into using alternative flours like tapioca and almond.
Week 4: Cut Out/Down Alcohol
Obviously, alcoholic beverages like beer contain tons of carbs and calories, but even wine has some negative side effects. Any alcohol in the body encourages fat retention and makes it harder for your liver to process other toxins. As with the sweets, if cutting out alcohol completely is out of the question, try to limit yourself to one or two drinks per week. Maybe a nice Friday night cocktail with friends, or couple of beers during Sunday football.
Week 5: Cook at Home More Often
Week five saves money and calories. Restaurants create food that’s very high in calories, and often doesn’t use the best ingredients. Trying to cook at home five or six nights a week makes it much easier to eat healthy, and not be tempted when the waiter asks if you want to see the dessert menu.
And there you have it. Five weeks of making small changes, and you’ve overhauled your diet. From here you’re in a good position to make more changes, or just be happy with what you’ve accomplished. Congratulations!
Need more help getting your diet in check? We offer nutritional coaching services, and you can call us at 727-216-9650 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!