Many people know from experience that change can be hard. In many cases, failure is all too real. However, a major reason as to why people fail to implement some change is due to the change being too big and uncomfortable. For instance, an overweight person anxious to be thin and without any previous physical training will not manage to achieve his goal if it is to exercise every day for an hour. The outlook is completely different if the goal is to work out three times a week for twenty minutes. Small steps are more likely to be successful steps, and that is why I am embarking on a journey to change by implementing small changes. Even making small changes is a process, and it includes the individual deciding to change before implementation and then documenting the progress for later evaluation.
Deciding to Change
I was inspired to change after learning more about how the body processes food. Different foods take more energy to process than others, such as those containing a lot of carbohydrates and fats. Considering that my diet is mainly carbohydrates and fats, I think it is an accurate assumption to make that I am constantly tired because my body’s working overtime to break down the food I am eating.
To Change or Not to Change:
There are many reasons to eat healthier, including feeling more energized, reducing coffee intake, and losing weight. However, eating healthier also costs more money, takes more time to prepare, and cuts out many favorite foods. Still, the cons of making the change are worthless to me, and I feel ready to implement healthy eating into my life.
Implementing the Change
I began preparing two healthy lunches per week for four weeks on August 23rd, ending on September 19th.
Many factors played a role in the outcome of this endeavor. For instance, the rise in my salary and my liking for healthy food helped me achieve my goals. However, challenges arose when dealing with pressure from my colleagues, the fear of not being satisfied, and lack of time to prepare meals. However, expecting these factors helped me to easily work around them.
Before implementing the plan I came up with three alternatives to doing so: 1) prepare a lunch that does not exceed more than 400 calories; 2) prepare lunch with at least one serving of vegetables and one serving of fruit; 3)prepare a lunch where half of the meal is vegetable, a quarter is a protein, and a quarter is carbohydrates with Fruit as the dessert. However, after doing some research, only one alternative seemed suitable. For instance, a study by Benton and Young (2017, p. 703) found that focusing on the caloric content of meals was adversely effective in creating energy-efficient meals, ruling out the first alternative. The second alternative was also deemed inappropriate because cups are now seen as a more objective measuring tool in determining the proper amount of certain foods to eat. After all, servings are too subjective of a measurement (New thinking on daily food goals, 2019). Even if the alternative were changed to including one cup of vegetables or fruits, measuring out the food would be tedious. So, I decided to go with the third alternative. Making sure the meal is at least half vegetables is a good way to ensure healthy eating and the sensation of being full due to high fiber content. Fiber is also helpful for digestion, saving the body energy (Nelson, 2018). This method can be helped by its lack of need for measuring tools, while it can be hindered by not requiring a calorie count.
All in all, I ate two healthy meals for lunch twice a week for 4 weeks by including enough vegetables to fill half of my plate, along with a quarter reserved for protein, a quarter for carbohydrates, and fruit for dessert.
I found week one to be quite easy as I was excited to be starting this new part of my life. The meals were ok, and I was glad to have ended that week successfully. The second week, however, was more difficult because I had to eat my lunch alone while my colleagues went to eat at restaurants. I was also starting to dislike eating so many vegetables I managed by telling myself that I only committed to doing this for a month. In the third week, I had an epiphany. I did not have to eat healthy foods I disliked. Instead, I should focus on making meals that I would want to make again. I did some research and testing this week, and the fourth week ended up being the easiest one because I was used to eating alone and I was eating food I liked. I ended the month having eaten eight healthy meals.
Implementing the change was a success. I managed to eat healthy meals for lunch a week for four weeks. After discovering that I can enjoy eating healthy meals without getting bored, the task became far easier. It was a challenge, however, to miss out on social opportunities with friends. In retrospect, I should have invited friends to eat with me and maybe even make a portion for them. Overall, I did find the days to be more productive, although I still needed coffee in the morning to wake up and start working. I imagine this is because the change was so small that it only had small effects. However, the changes were significant enough to incentivize me to add more days of healthy eating throughout the week.
Making small changes is the best way to make sustainable adjustments to one’s lifestyle. It is less overwhelming and far more practical. In the end, it does not lead to massive changes, but enough to see progress. In my case, eating healthy lunches made that day easier, especially in the afternoon. However, I want to see more positive effects throughout the entire day. Therefore, I am excited to make another small change to accomplish my bigger goals of having more energy to spend on activities other than digesting carbohydrate and fat dense foods.
Benton, D., & Young, H. A. (2017). Reducing Calorie Intake May Not Help You Lose Body Weight. Perspective on Psychological Science, 12(5), 703-714. doi: 10.1177/1745691617690878.
Nelson, M. (2018). Eat Half Your Plate – In Fruits and Vegetables. https://glacialridge.org/half-your-plate-vegetables-fruits/.
New thinking on daily food goals. (2019). Harvard Health Letter. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/new-thinking-on-daily-food-goals
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