Developing a Healthy Eating Plan
If you have been reading our wellness articles thus far you will now know the principles and benefits of healthy eating; how to test if your present diet is healthy or not; and what are toxins and how they affect your over-all physical and mental well-being.
Now it’s time to put all of that useful information into practice.
This article will guide you on how to create your own healthy eating plan. As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The same rule applies to our diet. Eating is as common in our life as sleeping, going to work and spending time with our families and friends. And we saw earlier that there are many traps that we can fall into that can seriously compromise our energy levels, mental sharpness and even our personal health if we are not careful.
On a recent bus trip to Mahikeng I casually observed the lunches of my fellow passengers as I drew out my food container to consume my home made salad. Of the 12 passengers I noted, I found 2 people eating an apple (one mother and one 5 year old boy). The lunch of the others ranged from white bread, rolls, French fries, crisps, chocolate bar, sausage, chicken and soft drinks. I wondered whether I was traveling in South Africa or in the USA!
Making an activity recall chart is one way in which we can gain greater awareness of how healthy our diet is. Sometimes we think that we are eating fine and exercising enough, but we get surprised when we see in black and white what we have done over the last three days.
An activity recall chart might look like this:
Day 1: Holiday
|9.30 a.m.: Breakfast||Cup of coffee and 2 slices toasted white bread||9.30 a.m. wake up; read paper; play with the kids|
|12.30 pm: went out for shopping|
|Lunch: 3 pm||1 plate of pap with chicken, boiled potato||2-3 pm: watched TV|
|3.30-5 pm: Nap|
|Tea: 5.30 pm||Tea with white bread and butter|
|6-10 pm: Visit cousin’s home for dinner|
|Dinner: 9.00 pm||Samp with beef and sugar beans, ice cream|
|11 pm: Shower|
|11.30 pm: Sleep|
Source: “Lose Your Weight”, Rujuta Diwekar, Random House, India
In this way one would make a chart for the next two days, which are not holidays. The above chart indicates a lack of exercise by the patient.
Once you are fully aware of where your weak points are, it will be easier to chart a road map to overcome them.
Let’s try and keep your first healthy eating plan simple and manageable.
Firstly choose five major targets.
Secondly, set goals for each of those targets.
Thirdly attach a time line to achieving those goals. The time line could be divided into: immediately; 2 weeks from now; and one month from now. If you have taken on a huge challenge like giving up smoking you may give yourself a longer time line—one that that you feel personally committed to and confident of attaining.
Important areas to cover in your eating plan might include:
As we noted in an earlier article (“Toxins and Their Effects on Your Health”) “not eating” is also part of a healthy eating plan! But the word graduated has been used to indicate that we approach the difficult task of “not eating” or detoxifying in a gradual manner as we build up our will power and psychological blocks of going without food.
So finally putting it all together your sample healthy eating plan may look something like this:
|Too many fizzy drinks|
|Reduce from 3-2 cans/day||Immediately||Replace with Ceres fruit juice|
|Reduce from 2-1 can/day||2 weeks||Replace with water drinking|
|Reduce to 1 can/week||4 weeks||Replace with fresh fruit, water and Ceres fruit juice|
|1 litre per day (4 cups)||Immediately||1 cup before work, 1 cup between breakfast and lunch, 1 cup between lunch and dinner, 1 cup after dinner|
|2 litres/day (8 cups)||2 weeks||Increase to two cups at each of the time frames above. Buy a water bottle.|
|1 litre of lemon water||4 weeks||Convert one litre of water into lemon water by squeezing the juice of half a lemon or a full lime into a one litre water bottle with a little bit of salt added to dilute the acidic taste.|
|Daily||Immediately||Add 2 seasonal fruits|
|3x/week||2 weeks||Add a Cucumber|
|3x/week||4 weeks||Replace white bread with jungle oats or mabele porridge with brown sugar.|
|3 blocks||Immediately||Walk every morning before work|
|6 blocks||2 weeks||Increase morning walk|
|1 kilometre||1 month||Increase morning walk or start gym workout|
|Select any restful day in the month and commit to fast for 24 hours||Immediately||Go without coffee, tea the entire day until the next day on the day of the fast.|
|1 month||Go without above plus meat until the next day|
|2 months||Go without above and add grains and beans to the list|
|3 months||Take only raw vegetables and fruits, fruit juices and water for the entire day.|
This is just a sample plan to give you an idea on how it can be done. You may adjust it according to your own real life situation. Better still consult a dietician or nutritionist who can guide you more precisely based on your personal needs and medical condition.
We all love to eat! It is associated with friends, family, fun and relaxation. It is natural to step out of line from a healthy eating plan because life is full of unexpected surprises and unplanned events. Nevertheless we may plan ahead to reduce the effects of an all-night party or a friend’s wedding. In this way we enjoy the act of eating and keep our minds free from guilt, regret or worry. Don’t let the occasional lapse or weak moment deter you from achieving your personal dietary goals on your road to fitness and success!