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Easy Change: Food Challenges.

In this second week of 2015, people are generally still pretty on top of the changes (ie habit and lifestyle) they wanted to make in their lives, but these changes don’t usually last very long. And, while I talked about my new year’s resolution a few weeks back, there is another kind of change I like to try throughout the year: Food Challenges.

Last year (up until I move out here) was “The Year Without” which is catchy but a little misleading. Basically, I chose one type of food or food group (including drinks; and ones that are problematic, not the stuff that is good for you!) that I was giving up that month. While it was hard, I learned a lot. Between the two months I gave up meat and bread, the amount of veggies I ate went up exponentially (I swear by mixing fresh squash and zucchini noodles into my pasta now). In those two months, people started asking me what I was doing for my skin because I was glowing and, even though my exercise routine didn’t change, I was feeling better and losing more weight than I had been. This is also due to the fact that with a restricted diet, you usually cook more just to be safe (at least if you are me!) Also, the moth I gave up fried food (I thought it was going to be easy!), I learned about how much food is actually fried and learned how to make my favorites but with less of the bad stuff in it. And that’s only a few of those lessons.

Like I said, I learned a LOT!

This year, I’m doing a longer term challenge (if I can keep it up), but it’s only three days a week (sorry no fun name yet). Basically I’m restricting what food I can or can’t have three times a week, using alliteration to make the days at least sound more festive: Meatless Monday (not even fish this time!), Wheatless Wednesday, and Fish Friday (leaner protein with a lot of vitamins! But only one meal has to include this). I’m going to be doing this for as long as I can keep it up for because this is a challenge, a kind of game for myself. It’s a way of changing some habits without a lot of the pressure of turning your life upside down.

For me there are two great benefits of doing this. First, it’ll get my veggie quota back up with all the benefits that entails. Since moving to London, even though I cook for myself for most meals, I am consuming a lot more meat as it’s easier to manage and stays good longer (because I can freeze it) than veg. This will force me to get back to those good habits! The second reason this is great is that it can snap up out of your food rut. By limiting choices about what you can or can’t eat that day, you have to get creative with what you can have that sounds just as good as any of the standbys you have to skip (Pintrest, anyone?).

I am doing these day for the whole day, but if someone didn’t want to add quiet the same amount of thought or effort, they could easily have this be Dinner Rules and still get some positive benefits from the experience.

But remember, this is a challenge which is supposed to be fun! If you end up getting too stressed out, take the day off because, with everything people have in their lives, a challenge like this shouldn’t mess up your whole day!

–Taylor Gallagher

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