Change Your Eating Habits in 7 Days

© Hongqi Zhang | Dreamstime.com

“I’m  thinking about becoming a vegetarian.”

I’ve heard it countless times from friends, family members, associates and acquaintances looking for motivation to eat right and conquer the diet portion of the healthy lifestyle equation. (Let’s chat about the other half of this equation, exercise, a little later…I can be a major procrastinator in this areaJ).

A Flirtation with Vegetarianism

In October 2008, as I approached my annual 34th birthday, I noticed that the back pleat of my three-quarter length, black, suede trench coat wasn’t lying perfectly flat.  At first, I blamed it on my dry cleaner.

If you’ve ever dry cleaned suede, you know why I considered tossing the jacket and buying a replacement, instead of paying such a high bill to refresh an older piece. But I loved that coat and decided to pay the price. So you can imagine my disappointment with what seemed to be a less-than-perfect job, which is perfectly uncharacteristic of my dry cleaner.

Upon further inspection, my accusing finger pointed back at me, or to be more accurate, my expanding behind. After nearly two years sitting in a corporate cube, working 12-hour days—taking very few breaks yet eating lots of high calorie snacks—my then size 6 frame was creeping toward size 8.

Not the end of the world, I know, but alarming to me, all the same. On the following Saturday my journey into Pescatarianism began.

The Skinny Bitches Changed My Life  

It has to be said that I started my journey by reading The Skinny Bitch Diet by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Those ladies turned off my desire to eat land animals, including my favorite Harold’s Fried Chicken, which caused my rear expansion, in the first place.

{Eventually, I veered off the vegan path because I sometimes like being able to choose a fish entree and avoid the whole diet conversation-thing when dining with my meat-eating friends (a real downer in my opinion).

Within one week of starting my new skinny eating habits, I felt a dramatic difference. I was less sluggish, found it easier to wake up in the morning and I actually lost a little weight.  In just seven days, I made a lasting change that took very little of my time to make because I made one small change every day.

7 Easy Steps

Now, just to be clear, I’m no dietitian. But I took steps similar to the ones below. Perhaps they can work for you:

Day 1: Make Food Network.com your friend. Pescatarian/vegetarian eating does not mean boring. Vegetables taste amazing when they are seasoned with olive oil, garlic and herbs. On this day, visit the website and find five easy vegetarian dishes and five easy seafood dishes that you want to try. Print them out and file them in your kitchen.
Day 2: Make your shopping list. Now that you have identified several new dishes you can look forward to eating, make the list of ingredients you will need to whip them up. Look at all 10 recipes and see which ones include ingredients that are already in your pantry (stick to those without animal by-products). You can save money, and make the next step less traumatic, by focusing only on the five recipes you plan to cook this week. Be sure to put your grocery list in your purse when you finish writing so you’ll have it the next day.
Day 3:   Clean out your refrigerator.Get rid of any land meat products you have in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Either donate these products to your local food bank, or cook everything and host one last meat feast, or toss these products. The point is, if you don’t have them handy, you can’t whip them up.Easy for me to say because I’m single, right? Well, while some members of your household may not want to change their eating habits initially, they might change their way of thinking. The idea behind this process is to ease into this new lifestyle. If the change is painless and gradual, your family just might surprise you.
Day 4: Go grocery shopping.Replace all of your meat-based products with fresh and healthy selections like fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh and frozen uncooked fish, extra virgin olive oil and spices to make everything taste great.  Today, eat frozen meals or Chinese take-out with vegetables and seafood. Save any leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
Day 5 Pack your lunch.Brown bagging it is a great way to stay on your path to change. It’s easy to grab a burger or a deli sandwich when you’re pressed for time…and a meatless, cheese-less garden salad may not satisfy stress-induced cravings, if that’s what you’re used to.  A frozen meal or last night’s leftovers and a piece of fruit should keep you satisfied.Cook a simple dinner. OK, I said one small change per day, but you have to eat. This evening, bake, roast or broil your fish of choice. Serve that with a small salad and one of the easy vegetable recipes you downloaded on Day 1. (If you can oven roast the veggies that can make this task even easier).
Day 6 Have almond milk or soy milk with your breakfast.  If you’re not already a fan of these products because you haven’t worked up the nerve to try them, this is the day for you to join the bandwagon. Unsweetened almond milk tastes soooo much better than cow’s milk, especially in my cereal. (Those of you with nut allergies may want to try vanilla flavored soy milk).
Day 7 Have dinner at a fast food restaurant. Here’s the deal: avoiding the burger temptations at lunch is a good idea because at work, we’re only accountable for our own food choices. However, away from the office, our food choices are easily influenced by our spouses, children and significant others.On this day reward your daily dinner companions for supporting your change by offering them the option of choosing anything on the menu.  You, on the other hand, have done so well all week, you’ll want to select a vegetable or seafood item. This is your chance to prove to yourself that your new eating habits won’t necessarily bring dramatic change to your lifestyle…unless that’s what you want!

After Day Seven, repeat and continue the process with a focus on lower calorie counts and healthy choices. Keep in mind that this process is not a diet. Eating fast food and take-out can be a source of weight gain, if you consistently choose high-calorie foods.

Now if I can just stay away from cakes, pies and cookies….

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