- In my 2014 highlights post, I mentioned that two of my most popular posts from last year were my detox meal plans. So I take that as…people out there must find healthy eating meal ideas helpful.
- One of my 2015 resolutions was to continue my never-ending goal to eat clean.
After considering both of these facts, the light bulb turned on: why not create a challenge with a bunch of meal ideas to encourage myself (and others) to eat healthy? So if you are trying to eat healthier, but are struggling a bit…
This post is for you!
Before I get into things, though, I need to clarify something. Everyone has their own idea of what “clean” or “healthy” eating is. To me healthy eating means the following:
- Eating food made from ingredients as close to the source as possible (aka not everything is boxed or pre-prepared)
- Practicing moderation (say yes to carbs! …just not all carbs all the time, although I’d enjoy that)
- Limiting, if not completely cutting out, harmful or nutrient-lacking ingredients (e.g. sugar, trans fat, white flour, alcohol, etc.)
Ways I make healthy eating possible in my life is by meal planning, making food with basic ingredients (aka not premade/prepackaged), and not going out to eat frequently. Is this all necessary? Nah. You can wing meals, buy packaged foods, and go out for meals all while being quite healthy. I just find for me, personally, it’s extremely difficult to make smart food decisions when I’m not in complete control of what I’m consuming. That’s why I find it worth putting forth the extra effort to make sure what I put into my body is fairly wholesome (or that’s the goal, at least; laziness and decadent foods get the best of me more than I’d like to admit).
So without further ado,
The Healthy Eating Challenge Rules
Okay, for the rules, I didn’t want the challenge to be all about DO NOT EAT THIS AND THIS AND THIS AND THIS AND DEFINITELY NOT THAT. That’s just depressing and makes me want to rebel and get ice cream. So this is a little mixture of healthiness to strive for as well as some badness to avoid. Over the 14 days, shoot for following the below rules each day:
- 2-3 fruit servings
- 2-3 vegetable servings
- No added sugar or sweeteners
- No junk food (e.g. chips, candy, etc.)
- Little to no alcohol
- Little to no caffeine
When it comes to breakfast, I’m a creature of habit. I like having the same exact thing every day. If you disagree, feel free to mix this up a wee bit, but for me the following options are enough to keep me satisfied.
I don’t usually plan lunch. In fact, I find that extra effort exhausting. That’s why I usually shoot for the following options. By not straying from these, especially during this challenge, I think I can make sure my midday meal is on track without any spontaneous badness.
- Sandwich on sprouted grain bread (or a lettuce wrap
- Leftovers from a dinner
On Monday I mentioned that I tend to eat the same things for snacks everyday; that’s why I made a decent list of healthy ideas, as to not get too bored and start hating food. I usually have a snack mid-morning and when I get home from work, so these will be my go-to options.
- Greek yogurt
- Hard boiled egg
- Fruit & Nut Bars
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls
- Coconut Oil Popcorn
- Protein shake
- Raw fruit or veggies
Beyond snacking, dinner is my biggest struggle when it comes to eating healthy. It can be so easy to not make time to create a nutritious dinner, so I have the next two weeks mapped out with a bunch of healthy dinner ideas. One thing to note for this is that I accommodated my own schedule for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This meaning: Sundays we have the tradition of eating pizza. Therefore, each day 1 has a more health-conscious version of this. Fridays (Day 6), I’m always unmotivated to cook, so I set up throw-together meals that would be easy. Lastly, on Saturdays (Day 7) I just don’t care (are you seeing the trend for my weekends?). As a result, I picked crockpot recipes that can also be thrown together that are still quite tasty.
- Day 1: Thin crust, veggie pizza
- Day 2: Southwest Chicken Chili in the Crockpot
- Day 3: Tacos (using ground turkey)
- Day 4: 2-Ingredient Italian Chicken in the Crockpot
- Day 5: Quinoa Protein Bowl
- Day 6: Veggie Omelet (which might just end up being scrambled eggs; let’s be real)
- Day 7: Crockpot Jambalaya
- Day 1: Thin crust, veggie pizza
- Day 2: Loaded sweet potato (with broccoli and shredded cheddar)
- Day 3: Lemon & herb-seasoned tilapia with sweet potato fries
- Day 4: Wannabe Jerk Chicken with a side salad
- Day 5: Turkey sausage, spinach, and parmesan pasta dish
- Day 6: Turkey, lettuce, and veggie-filled wrap
- Day 7: Southwest Chicken Barley Soup in the Crockpot
You obviously don’t have to follow this exactly. This is my game plan though. It gives you some ideas for what to make and eat each day to help you stay on track the healthy train.
And before I “sign off”, I just want to say this: You may eat healthier than this challenge; you may think this sounds impossible. Since I can’t make a healthy eating challenge for both ends of the spectrum, I hope there are at least a few of you out there that are with me in thinking this is a realistic plan that will still be an actual challenge. That’s the goal, after all.
Since we don’t have any plans on Sunday, which happens to be the Superbowl, that’s when I’m planning to start this. Who’s with me??
How do you define healthy eating?