How To Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Are you guilty of skipping meals during your day and then overeating in the evening? Maybe you haven't planned out your meals in advance, so it's easier to run through a drive-thru on the way home from work or order delivery. Because what's better than food at your doorstep?
Are meals leaving you bloated or constipated? It's time to grab the water bottle instead of another coffee and set time aside to prepare meals to conquer the week. Life can be very busy, and often, you feel like you've fallen way off track. The good news is, you can still make progress and live a long & healthy life.
Let's try planning meals that will nourish your body, help you live a healthy life, and eliminate the need to nap in the middle of your day.
Bad Habits To Look Out For
Not everyone has a perfect relationship with food or an understanding of nutrition. People eat what they think is healthy or what makes them feel sustained, but when it comes to what is needed for their body to be in its best state, they aren’t too sure of the specifics.
Most of us understand that the body needs protein, fiber, healthy fats, and carbohydrates to function, but we aren’t dissecting everything we eat to ensure that we are getting the right amount. It can be time-consuming and difficult, especially if you aren’t a trained nutritionist, resulting in poor nutrition.
Some bad habits that you want to look out for when it comes to eating are:
- Emotional eating: This refers to when a person eats “feel good” foods due to the emotions they are experiencing. It is associated with stress, anxiety, sadness, and depression and usually looks like eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting, followed by half a bag of chips.
- Skipping breakfast: You need a nutritious meal each morning, so you have the proper energy to focus throughout your morning. When you skip breakfast, your metabolism will slow, and you will end up cramming calories later. This can also lead to an imbalance in blood sugar, causing you to crave more simple sugars in order to gain quick energy later in the day.
- Constant snacking: It’s good to have a few fuel-filled snacks throughout your day, but snacking usually consists of sugary and salty treats with empty carbs that don’t give you sustainable energy. If you snack too much, it may eventually lead to weight gain.
- Mindless eating: When you don’t think about the portions you need prior to sitting down and eating, you might end up over consuming the food in front of you. Trying to use smaller-sized plates is a good way to start to break this habit.
21-Day Plan for Healthy Eating Habits
For three weeks, you should begin to note how certain foods are affecting you and what your eating patterns look like. Becoming more aware of your body and reacting to foods and processes you go through will help you implement changes later. We will split the 21 days up into three weeks so that each week we can isolate your experiences and make changes for the following week!
We will take the first seven days to identify any foods causing issues like brain fog, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, fight or flight energy, etc. We will then add healthy meals and start meal planning for the following week, days 7-14. On days 14-21, we will focus on changes you can make that will increase your well-being in addition to your performance throughout the day.
One way to keep track of what you eat throughout the 21-day plan would be for you to keep a food journal. This can help you keep track of portion sizes or the rough amount of food you are consuming.
While following this program, make sure you are testing with Vessel. Chat with our nutrition experts and make changes as needed to improve your wellness score over the next 21 days!
Week 1: Days 1-7
For days 1-7, you should use a notepad or keep a food journal to record your eating habits. Starting with the first thing, you eat each morning, write down everything you consume, both foods and drinks, for the entire day.
Along with this, you should be recording different habits that you notice you might have. This could look like skipping breakfast, only consuming carbs and lacking in protein intake, snacking more often than eating full meals, or having late-night cravings.
After the first day is complete, consider what you have consumed, and maybe do a little research on what some foods do to the body. Once you are armed with the knowledge of certain foods’ effects on the body, you can consider removing or adding more of the ingredient into your diet. But before you can even get into changing your diet, you need to learn about your nutritional needs.
We all need a proper amount of proteins, fats, and carbs to be included in our diets, but knowing which foods provide healthy fats and complex carbs instead of simple carbs will make a difference. When you head to the grocery store, be sure to read food labels to see what nutritional value the foods you might buy contain.
With Vessel health, you can track nutrient metrics that are found in various macronutrients. These metrics can help give you a better understanding of the types of foods you should be consuming as well as the quantity.
Some foods that cause bloating, constipation, or other negative effects are:
- Sugary drinks
- White bread
- Most fruit juices
- Fast food
- Most pizza
- Highly processed foods
- Sodium-heavy foods
Some foods that provide nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that you can eat instead are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegetables such as broccoli
- Lean meats
- Whole-grain foods
- Sprouted Brown Rice
Stocking your fridge and pantry with healthy foods can help your eating habits over time.
You should be testing consistently with Vessel Health throughout these three weeks so you can see how the changes you implement impact you. Understanding the baseline that you are working with will make it easier to see improvement!
By the end of week one, you should have a pretty good understanding of which foods might be influencing any poor feelings you have had. You can use the notes you have been taking to influence putting together meal plans for each day of week two. You will start by making a grocery list of any foods that have energized you.
Pick your favorite fruits and vegetables and work around what you like to create meals. Avoid foods that you noted had a negative effect on you when you go shopping for week two.
Week 2: Days 7-14
At the start of week two, you should take the grocery list you created from your notes on week one and go to the grocery store; it'll help you create a meal plan for the upcoming week. One problem that many people come across when developing healthy eating habits is that they don’t stick to a schedule. Creating a schedule for when you eat can help train your body into wanting to eat regularly at the same time.
By creating a meal plan, you can plan out ahead the foods that you are eating and put them into timeframes. When you choose what foods to eat, you also eliminate the time it takes to think about what to eat later on. So often, people do not prepare full and nutritious meals because they are working on a time budget, but with meal prepping, you avoid this issue and are ensured a nutritious meal!
Spend time putting together the first few days of your week’s meals together. Freezing your prepped meals can be extremely helpful, but some people prefer a more fresh feel to their meals! This is why we recommend meal prepping for three days in advance, instead of the full week. It can be easier, and your cravings might change after a few days.
For the second week, we are basing our meals around energy and cognitive function. You will keep track of how each meal makes you feel and if there are anything changes you’d make to it to enhance it.
These meal plans will be completely individualized for each person, but if you are looking for some inspiration, here’s what we might recommend:
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries and bananas
- Snack: Mixed nuts
- Lunch: Mediterranean chickpea salad
- Dinner: Roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, and broccoli
- Snack: Dark chocolate covered almonds
- Breakfast: Peanut butter banana protein shake
- Healthy snack: Clementines
- Lunch: Roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, broccoli (leftovers)
- Dinner: Black bean vegetarian chili
- Healthy snack: Mixed nuts
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries and granola
- Healthy snack: Cantaloupe, watermelon, and pineapple
- Lunch: Black bean vegetarian chili (leftovers)
- Dinner: Vegetarian lasagna with spinach
- Healthy snack: Fruit and cheese kabobs
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
- Healthy snack: Carrots and hummus and a protein bar (don’t forget to check the nutritional label!)
- Lunch: Vegetarian lasagna with spinach (leftovers)
- Dinner: Spinach and kale salad with feta cheese and strawberries
- Healthy snack: Lightly salted Popcorn
- Breakfast: Avocado on toast with red pepper flakes, hemp or pumpkin seeds
- Healthy snack: Mixed nuts
- Lunch: (If there are no leftovers, consider a stir-fry of everything you’ve got or settle for a protein shake). Stir-fry packed with spinach, banana, protein powder, nut butter, and any other fruit such as berries
- Dinner: Vegetarian fajitas
- Healthy snack: Chocolate covered strawberries (you probably deserve something sweet by this point)
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt with mixed fruit, honey, and coconut flakes
- Healthy snack: Protein bar and some cheese and crackers
- Lunch: Chicken caesar wrap
- Dinner: Coconut chickpea curry
- Healthy snack: Cantaloupe, watermelon, and pineapple
- Breakfast: Omelet with spinach, peppers, and onions
- Healthy snack: Clementines
- Lunch: Coconut chickpea curry (leftovers)
- Dinner: Chicken caesar salad
- Healthy snack: Mixed fruits and nuts
Again, this is an example of how you might go about planning out your meals based on ingredients you probably already have or can easily get.
Recognizing what your body needs is key when planning out your meals, so if by the second week, you are still noticing changes, the third week is the chance to make them and see if improvements are made. Don’t worry; Vessel Health has got you covered.
Week 3: Days 14-21
For the last week of the 21 days, you will use the knowledge you’ve accumulated over the last two weeks to implement any other dietary changes needed. For example, if you aren’t enjoying greek yogurt and aren’t finishing your breakfast, you should find a substitute, such as a vegan coconut yogurt or a bowl of oatmeal to start your days off stronger.
You should be close to finding out which foods are not good for you, and making changes to your diet might begin to happen more naturally. You might begin to recognize when a certain ingredient is not benefitting your body and when others are giving you energy and sustenance.
During the third week, you should be used to eating on a schedule. You should be eating breakfast at a reasonable time from when you wake up, eating lunch in the middle of your workday to give you ample fuel to finish the day, and eating dinner each night that fills you up.
You’ll probably notice that you are no longer overeating or snacking too much because one of the goals by the third week is for your body to no longer crave foods when they are unnecessary to consume.
While lifestyle changes can be a learning curve, changing components in your diet can help your overall health.
You can track your progress throughout the 21-day plan with Vessel so that you can see where your nutrition levels might have improved and where there is more room for improvement. We want to continue to help you achieve your optimal wellness, so stick to meal planning and scheduled eating so that you can develop and practice better eating habits for the rest of your life!
Mikaela Frame See all the author’s articles