Weekly Healthy Eating Goals

By May 18, 2012

I read the article “A Healthy diet for a Healthy Weight” and in it you suggest making weekly goals. I am very far from eating healthy. I struggle with dieting constantly and always wanting to lose weight. I know that this is not healthy and have always wanted to start eating right but never have been successful at staying with it. I wondered if you could give me some examples of weekly healthy eating goals to get me started eating healthy. – Lori

Dear Lori:

I’m so glad to hear that you are ready to break the cycle of chronic dieting! As you gradually begin making healthy eating a way of life, you will start to feel so much better, both physically and emotionally. You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed regarding how to get started, and you are asking a great question.

Since I don’t have the advantage of doing a full assessment to determine your specific eating patterns and preferences, I will give you some general examples of things a person can gradually modify one step—or one week—at a time.

  • If you eat erratically, try to establish a regular pattern of three balanced meals a day (with healthy snacks as needed). For example, if you routinely skip breakfast, try to eat something small each day the first week, like a bowl of cereal. As your body adjusts and you develop a “breakfast appetite,” you could try adding something else, such as fruit in your cereal, or an egg on the side.
  • Include a fruit or vegetable in your lunch each day the next week.
  • Start having salad with your dinner as another step.
  • Try substituting whole grain bread for white.
  • Replace soda or sweetened drinks with healthier alternatives such as skim/low-fat milk, pure fruit juice, tea or even water.
  • If you have a donut every day during coffee break, try cutting back to once or twice a week.
  • Start cooking with olive oil in place of butter or margarine.
  • Try a new recipe made with fresh ingredients once a month.

This is just a small sample of the kinds of goals you can choose to implement each week. Unlike diets, in which you have a strict list of do’s and don’ts and have to make daily calculations, you can choose from a wide variety of foods, and learn to trust your body’s hunger and fullness signals to determine amounts. For more information, check out the articles, “Understanding Hunger and Fullness Cues” and “Eleven Keys to a Healthy Lifestyle.”  If you still feel overwhelmed, I’d recommend that you make an appointment with a registered dietitian, so you can get individualized attention and help.

You will love the freedom that comes with healthful eating as a way of life, and your weight will naturally fall at what is healthiest for you. I wish you all the best in your new beginning!