Create a Healthy Lifestyle in 21 Days
I’ve heard it said that it takes 21 days to create a habit. So after continuously hearing my vegetarian friends talk about how they had to make sure they ate enough protein in a day, I decided I should start thinking about what I eat each day and put a little more effort into living a healthy lifestyle.
I have always thought about making a healthy choice when eating or picking between two options, but I never actively thought about the variety of foods I was putting into my body in a 24 hour period. With only a limited amount of time standing between me and “adulthood” (aka college graduation), I decided it was time to make a change for the better.
Why You Should Track Your Food for 21 Days
Each meal, I opened the “MyFitnessPal” app to log the ingredients within my meal. After I log them, I view the nutrients in each item. While its good to sometimes see the calorie count, seeing the nutrients is far more important and calories can be misleading.
At the end of the first day, I looked to see where I was at. My carbohydrate, cholesterol, and sodium intakes were above the suggested goal. The following day, my cholesterol, fat, and vitamin A & C intakes were above the suggested goal. That confirmed my belief that I had no idea what I was eating, so I decided to start looking at the nutrients in food before eating it and make active decisions about what to eat.
What a Typical Day of Eating Now Looks Like For Me
- Light and Fit Greek Yogurt: High in Protein!
- Coffee with 1 TBSP of Creamer: Creamers not great for you, so moderation is key. I used to just dump in a lot…now I make an effort to not have more than I need.
- Half a Bagel with 1 TBSP of Peanut Butter: for days when it will be awhile until lunch, I eat this for a more filling breakfast!
- Soup or a Sandwich: I eat lunch on campus, so now I try to go easy on a sauce (pesto, not pesto mayo) and choose a lighter multigrain bread option instead of a sub roll. Small choices make a difference in your overall health!
- Stir Fry: 1 Cup of Brown Rice, 3 Oz. Tofu, 1 Cup of Brussel Sprouts, canned corn, canned black beans with soy or teriyaki sauce. I mix up which veggies I use and sometimes use chicken breast or quinoa, but this is a great meal! The rice makes it filling with a bit of a carbohydrate, but the other ingredients are wonderful for protein and various vitamins.
I try to eat only two or three of the following snacks each day:
- Skinny Popcorn
- Peanut Butter and a Banana
- Oreos (just one or two!)
- Annies Cheddar Bunnies
- GoMacro Bars
Cheat Foods That Aren’t Cheats
La Croix: I like soda and juice. Its a fact. But the chemicals in soda and the sugars in juice mean one cup of OJ is all I can really let myself have each day. La Croix is perfect for when I’m craving a fruity or bubbly beverage because it is all natural and sugar free.
Chocolate Rice Cakes: These are great when you need your chocolate fix because they are a bit filling and super delicious with chocolatey goodness.
Pick the Right Snacks to Bring to Campus
One struggle to a balanced diet for me is that I am consistently reaching for snacks on campus that aren’t as good for me as I thought. Recently, GoMacro reached out to me and offered me some of their bars to sample. It is safe to say, I am extremely impressed. Their goal is to not sacrifice taste for nutrition, which I am all about! Especially since I have been working on improving my own overall nutrition.
My favorite flavor is the Sunny Uplift. Like the name says, it is the perfect pick me up during days when I have classes for 5 hours and need something to hold me over until my late lunch. Their bars are vegan, gluten free, soy free, organic, and all around delicious. I would highly recommend the protein bars if you find that your diet could use some extra nutrients!
The Key to Success
This post is not about minimizing the number of calories you eat to lose weight fast. This post is about watching what you eat to make healthier, but still realistic, decisions in what you eat each day. For me, tracking my food has helped me to find out whats actually in the foods I am eating and where I can get my nutrients from, like the GoMacro bars. In addition, it has helped me to eliminate “bored snacking” aka when I take a study break and mindlessly eat whatever is on my shelf.