My last blog post and book review on Atomic Habits inspired me to pen this post as this challenge is really about creating habits that serve you! Do you know why many of the challenges out there typically last 21 days? Research shows that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So, once you do something for 21 days, it becomes a part of your routine. Let’s use this strategy to power up intake of nutritious food, primarily fruits and vegetables.
What’s the challenge?
Goal would be to get a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruits per day in the next 21 days.
Here are 10 tips to support you in preparing for this challenge.
Start with why
I’m sure that an online search of the “21 day challenge” will offer you many challenge options. It’s easy to start something but hard to reach the finish line. The key would be for you to start with your Why: why would you want to power up veggies and fruits?. Reasons are many: better health, boost metabolism, set an example for kids and so on. Spending some time to figure out your why will help you stay on track especially when things get tough and inconvenient.
You’ve probably heard this a million times and I’ll repeat it...set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals. Perhaps, you want to start slow and aim at 4 servings of vegetables or you already are there and want to eat more than 5 servings. Figure out what your goals are and how to challenge yourself to attain better health and well-being.
Once you have your goals figured out, it’s time to get really intentional and show up for yourself EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! I like to set daily intentions every morning on what I want to focus on for the day. It might be that you’re really struggling with your water intake. So, set an intention to drink at least 5 glasses of water in a day or more. If you struggle with eating enough veggies, set an intention to eat a salad for lunch.
Meal Planning and Prep
Every weekend, set aside time to plan out your meals for the week and shop for groceries accordingly. Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time is so critical to achieving your goals.
Pick the most nutritious veggies and fruits
It’s not about just eating vegetables, make an effort to pick the most nutritious vegetables. Frozen vegetables might be OK when you are in a pinch, however try to get fresh produce. Dark leafy greens (Spinach, kale, Collard) and cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage should be included every day. Include at least one serving of strawberries or blueberries as they are known to have high amounts of antioxidants. Check out this blog post for a review of some super foods you can add to your list.
Make Salad your main meal
It can get hard to add so many fruits and vegetables when you’re not used to it. One easy way to achieve that is by making a big giant salad every day and make it a part of your main meal. Check out these salad recipes for inspiration. Another easy way to do that is by making a green smoothie for breakfast. This is a staple in our house and before noon, you can get at least 3 servings of veggies!
How you cook veggies is important
It’s best to eat raw as you get the most nutrition. The next best option would be to steam your vegetables. Avoid overcooking them. I enjoy a nice salad for lunch and tend to eat steamed veggies for dinner.
It’s so important to stay hydrated! When you eat all these veggies, water plays an important role with keeping you hydrated and supports overall digestion. Aim to get at least half your body weight in ounces of water.
Be mindful of other elements of your diet
Although this challenge doesn’t focus on other food groups that are a part of your daily meals, it's important to make good choices in other aspects of your diet by cutting out processed food, limiting sugar and being mindful of your protein and carb choices.
Track your progress
As the famous proverb goes “What gets measured, gets managed”! keep track of your progress by tracking your daily in-take. This keeps you accountable and supports you with making progress. Use a manual tracker or any of the online food trackers. Dr.Greger’s Daily Dozen app is a good online app to try or use a printable tracker.
Are you ready to take on the challenge and get more fruits and vegetables in your diet and enhance your lifestyle? Don’t wait, start right away!