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How to start eating healthy can be a challenge if this is your first time.
With all the information out there about what’s healthy, what’s bad, what diet works versus what doesn’t work, it can be a frustrating experience. Ultimately, the goal is to find what works for you and only you. Forget about all those trendy diets and try to find a way of eating and living that suits your lifestyle so you can commit to it, long term.
I’m not a dietician or a health coach so this 14-day healthy meal plan is only based on my eating habits. It’s not scientific but rather a personal way of eating and living that has worked extremely well for me. I’ve been the same weight for the past 22 years and people ask me all the time how I can eat chocolate and pizza and not gain weight. Well, in this post I will share with you exactly how I do it – and you will see that it’s not complicated at all.
Because I consider eating one of life’s greatest pleasures, I don’t follow any specific diet as I find them too limiting. There are a few rules and guidelines I stick to but, as you will see, they are easy to implement.
You can either print this post or take notes from the tips I’m about to give you. Follow them and I promise you will see some improvements in both the physical and mental aspects of your life. You will no longer take the food that’s on your plate for granted 🙂
The Rules And Guidelines To Eating Healthier
Here are the 7 rules and guidelines I follow in order to keep my weight in check. You don’t have to follow them all but I recommend picking at least 3 or 4 to see long term results.
1. The 80:20 Rule
Remember when I mentioned earlier that many people wondered how I managed to stay slim while still being able to eat pizza and chocolate?
That’s because of the 80:20 rule:
- 80% of the time, I eat healthy whole foods.
- 20% of the time, I indulge in my favorite treats.
This has worked wonderfully for me, as a person who loves big flavors and extravagant dinners with friends. I don’t ever feel deprived that way and can enjoy food outside my home, worry-free. There are many different ways to tackle this rule but if you are new to this, you may want to keep track of the foods you eat for the first month. A simple pen and paper will do – just jot down everything you eat for the first month. Then take a look at the list and see how much of it is healthy vs unhealthy.
This will give you a clear idea of your eating habits and why you might be struggling to lose some weight. The next step is to take out enough of your favorite treats to keep the balance at 80:20. Eating 4 chocolate bars a week? How about taking that down to one a week and replacing the other three with wholesome snacks such as nuts, apples and/or homemade hummus (store bought hummus can be extremely high in saturated fats) and crackers. Do you get delivery or eat out 3 days a week? How about taking that down to, again, once a week? Prepackaged frozen dinners make up most of your weekly dinners? Commit to only two store bought dinners and make your own frozen meals. Soups, stews and rice based dishes freeze very well!
Implement this rule in all the food you eat and you should see some results pretty quickly.
2. Cut out all Fruit Juices, Soda Pops, Coffees And Teas Containing Flavor Enhancers, Whipped Cream And Sugar
23 years ago I signed my very first modeling contract in Tokyo, Japan. I wasn’t fat but you could say that I was a little soft around the waist from eating one too many burgers and chugging cans of Fanta Orange. My agent recommended I lose 7-10 pounds. I had never dieted before so I asked her how I could go about losing that weight.
“Only drink water from now on. No more pop or fruit juices. And stay away from those frappuccinos and other frozen type drinks. Black coffee and teas (without sugar and milk) are also okay,” she said.
“Okay, and… Wait, that’s it?” I asked.
“Yep,” she said. “Start with that and let’s weigh you again in about a month.”
That was it. Plain and simple. Easy peasy. Only drink water!
And what do you know, it worked!
I quickly lost seven pounds because I used to go crazy with the vending machines in Japan. I would drink one flavored juice after another and order Jack and Cokes at the bar. I was probably taking in 600-700 calories a day – just from beverages!
Back then I had no idea that one 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contained up to 9 1/3 teaspoons of sugar. That’s almost a quarter of a cup! And sadly, the same goes for most fruit juices. Eek!
It turns out that unless you go to a juice bar and order something that’s made right in front of you, there won’t be much in the way of health benefits to reap. And if you like to order your daily coffee with an extra squirt of vanilla or caramel flavored syrup, well, you’ve just added 80 calories to your cup.
80 calories x 7 times a week = 560 calories. <-Are you looking at this?
By just cutting coffee syrup out of your diet, you could save 560 calories a week and lose one pound in about 6 weeks (3,500 calories equal 1 pound). That’s huge!
I personally don’t miss drinking flavored beverages but if you think you are going to miss drinking pop, try a can of Lacroix sparkling water. They have an array of flavors that are completely calorie free! My favorites are grapefruit and tangerine.
3. Go Easy On Meat And Dairy
Since July 1st, I have cut out all meat and 95% of all dairy. The reason for that is purely ethical. I’m an animal lover and could no longer live with the guilt that I was a participant in the way animals are currently being treated. This decision was a long time coming and it’s one I’m very happy to have made.
What happened next though, was unexpected. I lost five pounds. Were the animals thanking me for my decision?
Of course not.
It didn’t take me long to realize that most of the fat I ate came from those two food groups. So yeah, of course I’m going to lose weight. Also, a serving of beef or chicken has more calories than a serving of beans or vegetables. Without knowing it, I was eating a healthier and lighter diet!
The best part?
It keeps me just as full and satisfied. And there’s another bonus point: my skin has been glowing like it’s never glowed before!
My recommendation would be to eat meat no more than twice a week, three times if you must. Or quit entirely like I did! The meat on your plate should always be the smallest part of your meal, never the other way around.
As for dairy, swap cashew milk for cow’s milk in cereal. Unflavored cashew milk is high in calcium and has less of a nutty taste than almond milk. You can also swap butter for something like Earth Balance Omega-3 which tastes exactly like buttah! If you are a big cheese lover, cut down on the amount you eat or only have it on special occasions.
Do this for a few weeks and I guarantee you will notice a difference around your waistline. Since cutting out meat and dairy, my stomach has been FLAT. And believe me, I’m eating plenty of rice, pasta and beans but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. That bloated stomach I had back in June is completely gone.
4. Be Mindful Of What’s On Your Plate
Every evening before dinner, Ben and I say “itadakimasu,” which translates from Japanese to, “I humbly receive this food.” This gives us a moment to reflect and be thankful for the meal we are about to eat.
One of the reasons why it’s important to be mindful of what’s on our plates is so we don’t take food for granted.
We have such busy lives these days that many of us eat mindlessly. We don’t take the time to taste food or ask ourselves if we are actually hungry. Maybe we are thirsty or bored and food seems like the solution? I’ve caught myself countless times digging into a bag of popcorn only to realize halfway through that I didn’t remember eating most of it. I was either checking something on my phone or day dreaming.
How about making this year a time to slow down and appreciate the beautiful gift that is food?
This year, let’s all take pause before every meal to think about the origins of food. This way we can give proper, mindful thanks. Thank you to all the beautiful animals for giving their lives so we can fill our stomachs – and to the farmers who spend days cultivating and picking vegetables so we can color our plates with wholesomeness. Thank you to the home chefs for seasoning each dish to perfection and for the luck to have been born in a country where there is no shortage of food.
We have so much to be grateful for!
When you eat mindfully, you experience food on a different level. It tastes that much better and something else magical happens – you slow down and you feel emotions. Every bite takes longer to chew because you pay attention to the flavors and texture. You connect with your food and feel love, empathy, gratefulness. And guess what happens when you do that on a daily basis?
You lose weight.
They say it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register the chemicals that make you feel full. When you eat slower, you get full on less food. It’s as simple as that.
5. Keep a minimal amount of food in your fridge
Is your fridge always packed to the gills? If so, is it overflowing with fruits and vegetables? If the answer is no, it’s time to do some cleaning.
The less food you keep in your fridge and the healthier you will be.
Because it means you will have to go to the store every day to pick up fresh produce.
Salad dressings: keep no more than one type. We have a total of zero store bought salad dressings in our fridge since most of them are filled with sugar and chemicals. Making a simple balsamic vinaigrette from scratch takes no time and requires less than five ingredients.
Save on all the store bought salad dressings and, instead, invest in a salad dressing shaker ($10). This way you can make your own healthy dressing and season it exactly the way you like it.
Desserts and sweets: Same rule goes for this. Keep only one item in your fridge and make sure it’s not the size of a chocolate pie! I always have a chocolate bar sitting in my fridge because I get choco cravings daily. I’m lucky enough that I don’t need to eat the entire bar to feel satisfied. So for me, one chocolate bar will last 2-3 days. If you have a hard time controlling yourself around desserts and sweets, it’s probably best to keep them out of your house entirely.
Healthier options that are satisfying:
- Mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with almond milk yogurt and a little pure maple syrup. This hits the spot every time I have a craving for something sweet.
- Honeycrisp apples. OMG, trust me on this – even if you don’t crave an apple, eat one! It always does the trick for sweet cravings!
- 1 tablespoon raw organic honey mixed with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter. Ben loves doing this, it’s almost like a deconstructed Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, minus the chocolate.
This is what I have in my fridge:
That’s it! And it pretty much stays like that unless I have a lot of leftovers.
6. Food prep as much as you can
This is the only time I would say it’s okay to have a fridge full of food. If you can pack it with containers of pre-sliced vegetables, chopped ginger and garlic, chilies, fruit and cooked beans and grains, do it!
Doing this saves so much time in the long run and makes cooking healthy meals effortless. With prepped ingredients you can whip up a stir fry in just 5 minutes, throw a bunch of them in a slow cooker and press start, or make an amazing buddha bowl or salad.
I’m guilty of being off and on with that. I know I should do it every week but hey, I’m only human. I’ll tell you one thing though; whenever I do it, I am much more motivated to cook in the evening after a long day in front of the computer.
There are a few things I do prep on a regular basis though and they are;
- Scallions. I keep a container full of chopped scallions to add to my noodle soups (udon, soba, ramen).
- Carrots and celery sticks because we eat them as a snack.
- Pineapple. As a snack or for smoothies.
- Lemons and limes. To squeeze on my food or into my tea or hot water.
7. Eat more beans
Beans! They are so healthy, so filling, so amazing.
Not only are they loaded with protein, magnesium and potassium, they help with weight loss. Pulses, which are the dried seeds of the legume branch, can help you shed a few pounds because they leave you feeling full, longer.
Eating a serving of beans (about 1/2 cup) can increase the feeling of fullness up to 31%!
You can do as I do which is to swap meat for beans, or add them to what you are already eating. I know, adding them to what you are already eating means more calories on your plate, so how can you lose weight? That’s because the size of your meal will most likely become smaller. Since beans make you feel full, you won’t be eating the same amount of food as you used to (some people eat 30% fewer calories than they used to!).
Say goodbye to belly fat
The magic of chickpeas! Did you know that chickpeas can reduce belly fat and direct it away from the waistline for a flatter, leaner stomach? I bet that hummus looks even more appetizing now, uh? It doesn’t get any better than this!
So there you have it – my seven guidelines.
They keep my weight in check, give me beautiful skin and give me energy.
To help you get started on your new healthy journey, I’ve given you 14 breakfast options, 14 lunch options, 14 dinner options and 14 snack options. They are all easy recipes to follow and should be enough to make you feel full.
But just in case you skip some recipes because you’ve had a really long day, I’m giving you a list of frozen meal options as well as snack options you can pick up at the store.
Do yourself a favor though; try to add more veggies to everything you eat. Even if you zap a frozen meal in the microwave, add at least a couple of veggies to your dinner. Be it an avocado, some sliced mushrooms or a tomato, remain mindful as often as you can of what your body needs to function well and be healthy. Always think about how you can make your meals even better.
7 Guidelines Recap
GUIDELINES FOR A HEALTHIER DIET
- The 80:20 rule
- Cut out all fruit juices, soda pops, coffees and tea containing whipped cream and sugar (or flavor enhancers).
- Go easy on meat and dairy.
- Be mindful of what’s on your plate.
- Keep a minimal amount of food in your fridge.
- Food prep as much as you can.
- Eat more beans.