Deciding to eat healthier doesn’t mean changing everything you eat all at once. Small steps create better eating habits and lead to sustainable improvements.

Take food selfies

During the week prior to starting your new healthy eating plan, take photos of all the meals, snacks and drinks you consume.

At the end of that period, look at these photos. Chances are you’ll see patterns of what you eat and the size of your meals. 

Do your dinner plates usually have potatoes and no colourful vegetables? Is your breakfast often a muffin and coffee from a drive-through? Did you only drink three or four glasses of water each day?

The purpose of this analysis isn’t to judge, it’s about creating awareness of your current food choices so you can make adjustments.

Gather knowledge

Ideally, each of your meals and snacks should have some protein, carbohydrates and a healthy fat.

  • Protein
    Proteins can be animal-based or plant-based. These include eggs, chicken, fish, tofu or beans.

    Serving size: This will depend on your body size and amount of physical activity, but generally, a serving of protein is the size of your palm. Consume one or two servings per day. 
  • Carbohydrates
    Carbohydrates are essential for energy, but it’s the type and portion that are important. Most people eat too many carbs like pasta, rice and bread because they’re easy to get and filling.

    That being said, it's important to remember that fruit, quinoa, sweet potatoes and whole grains such as oats are healthy carb options. It’s a good idea to consume more carbs on the days you’re more active, particularly after a workout.

    Serving size: A handful or the size of a tennis ball is a good measurement for carbs.
  • Healthy fats
    We need healthy fats as they help keep us full longer, nourish skin and hair and get our hormones revved up. Healthy fats can be found in eggs, nuts and avocados.

    Serving size: Usually a thumb represents a good amount of healthy fat. That could equate to a teaspoon of oil, about six nuts or one or two wedges of avocado.

Week one

The focus of week one should be hydration. 

The general recommendation is eight glasses of water per day. Not fancy vitamin waters, juices or coffee, but plain water. Bump up the taste by adding some fruits or veggies.

Water is vital because dehydration lowers the body’s ability to do its job. Dehydration increases your chances of getting a headache and feeling fatigued.

Dehydration can also lead to increased eating; we think we’re hungry, but we’re actually thirsty.

Week two

Add an extra serving of vegetables to one of your meals every day. Aim for a colourful veggie such as broccoli, sweet potatoes or beets.

Week three

Choose one particular meal you want to improve.

If your breakfast is usually a muffin and coffee, make a healthy breakfast at home every day.

To prevent rushing in the morning, plan to grocery shop for the ingredients you need and get as much preparation done ahead of time.

Time for retakes

After the first three weeks have passed, do another photoshoot of what you’re eating and drinking.

Compare those pictures to your first batch and you’ll see proof that small changes have added up.

This will set the stage for adding another change each week. Perhaps, make half your dinner plate be colourful vegetables or eat a homemade lunch that includes a vegetable.

Recipe options

Mistakes to avoid

  • Don’t go for broke at the beginning of your plan. Eliminating all alcohol and junk food and changing all your meals at once is too daunting and can lead to giving up.
  • Don’t look at your new eating habits as a diet. The goal at the beginning isn’t about losing weight, and counting calories shouldn’t be part of the equation.
  • If you skip one of your healthy meals, don’t view it as a failure. There will be days that aren’t as great, so be forgiving and try again the next day.

Slow and steady

The guidelines in this 3-week kick-starter are really about changing behaviour, which is more sustainable if we do it in smaller pieces and individualize our plan.

It’s better to master one habit at a time, even if the results start slower. We want to reach a point where these changes just become part of our lifestyle.