Whether you are trying to lose weight or simply live a healthier lifestyle, changing you eating habits in the long run is almost impossible unless you introduce these changes gradually.
Here is a 6 weeks program with one golden rule: nothing is forbidden! It is all about developing healthy habits, without getting frustrated.
Week 1: Awareness
To begin, and regardless of your goal, it is essential to understand what is in your plate in order to identify the changes you need to implement.
I recommend using a diary and take notes of all the foods you eat during the day, including drinks and snacks, and the time at which you eat.
Knowing the time will allow you to ask yourself “Do I eat when I am hungry?”, “Do I really need to eat all the food in my plate?”, “Do I listen to my body when it tells me I am full?”, “Do I eat enough?”.
By the end of this first week, you should already be able to identify the changes you need to make as you will be more aware of your needs.
- If your stomach starts rumbling around 11 am, try drinking a glass of water. It could simply be that your body needs to be hydrated, sending you the same signals as when you are hungry.
- Eat slowly (says the women who is always the first one to finish her plate …)! Eating too quickly could lead to bloating and prevent you from earing your body telling you it is full. So, drop your fork from time to time and give yourself time to digest.
Week 2: Rebalance your diet
Now that you understand the way you eat, it is time rebalance your diet. Looking at your diary should help you identify the first changes to implement.
One common mistake is to neglect fruits and vegetables, to the benefit of carbs. Although carbs are essential to your diet, they should not be the main component of your meals. Instead, try to slowly reduce the size of your portions to balance the content of your plate to 50% crabs, 50% fruits and vegetables.
Week 3: Understand calories
For those of you trying to lose weight, counting calories might seem like a tempting option. However, before you do so, it is important to understand calories.
First of all, weight gain is completely natural and can be influenced by a number of factors such as age, muscle mass increase …
Secondly, a healthy meal plan can have the same number of calories as an unhealthy meal which means that calories do not equal to health.
If your diet is full of processed foods, trans fats, and refined sugar, then your body will respond negatively. This means lower energy levels, potential acne, and, you guessed it – weight gain. Instead, you should focus on meals that contain a proper proportion of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates that your body will process in a completely different way, absorbing the nutrients and giving you the energy you need.
So if I can give you a piece of advice, forget about calories because calories are not everything. But if this is important to you, make sure your meals are high in nutrients so you stay focused and full throughout your day.
- Educate yourself on food. The more you read, the more you will be able to understand what is good for your health and what is not. Speak to your doctor too! They will be able to advise you when in doubt.
Week 4: Make smarter choices
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the goal isn’t to turn your diet upside down or deprive yourself from your bits of daily bliss. It is about making smarter choices.
For example, eating an orange instead of drinking a glass of orange juice for breakfast will allow you to reduce your sugar intake. The fruit itself is also more nutritious than its juice as it contains more fibers. If you are a chocolate addict, switch for dark chocolate!
And in order to implement these changes in the long run, try asking yourself throughout the day if you are making the right choice.
- Choose whole-wheat products as much as possible. White wheat is highly processed and turned into blood sugar by our body.
Week 5: Learn how to organize yourself
Once these changes will be part of your routine, it will be time to find tricks that will make your life easier and help you to avoid succumbing to temptations.
The goal here is to make readily available food that is good for your health. One thing I always do is to buy nuts and fruits that I leave on my desk at work. This way, instead of running to the vending machines for a snack, I eat what is on my desk.
Also make sure that your cupboards are full of base ingredients for your dishes. For example, always keep in stock oil and vinegar to make your salad dressings. This will prevent you from having to run to the store at a time you are hungry and therefore more likely to buy unnecessary and/or ready-made foods.
Week 6: Let’s go a bit further
You are on the right track so keep going! For example, why not try a new fruit or vegetable this week?
One vegetable I started adding to my diet recently is kale. Now, to be very honest, it is far from being my favorite. But it is very healthy and frankly bearable when added to a smoothie with coconut water!
Do not hesitate to also try new recipes to keep your diet dynamic and avoid always eating the same things.
For some inspiration, you can always visit Sophonie’s Kitchen!
I wish you good luck and leave your comments below if you have any question or want to share your story!