Making small changes one meal at a time

Eating well can boost your health and help you feel your best. Want to eat better? Of course many of us do, but it can be tough to know where to start, how to keep the healthy eating on track, and how to make the habit stick.

That’s why, instead of trying to change everything at once, Public Health encourages you to make smaller, more manageable changes that can lead to success in the long run.

Make small changes one meal at a time

How can you start?

Consider taking a 100 meal journey.

Why a 100 meals?

It’s because we typically eat about 100 meals a month. In research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2010, Lally and colleagues looked at how long it takes for a new behaviour to become routine or automatic.

What did they find?

On average it took 66 days (just over two months – or two 100 meal journeys) for a person’s behaviour to become routine. So you can see how focusing on making small changes each meal, setting goals and putting strategies in place to support your 100 meal journey could get you well on your way to establishing a new healthy habit.

Here are some examples of positive, easy changes that can make a big difference to your diet:

  • Fill more of your plate with vegetables
  • Choose whole grain instead of white bread
  • Serve smaller portions
  • Drink water in place of sugary beverages, like pop
  • Enjoy fruit for snacks instead of sweet or salty treatsFruit Cups
What happens if I fall off the wagon? Is my hard work ruined?

No! The good news is that researchers found that if every now and then people didn’t perform the desired behavior every day, it did not affect the ability for the behaviour to become a habit.

So what is the take away from all of this?
  1. Small healthy changes in eating behaviors can become healthy habits.
  2. You have to consciously work to make the changes second nature, which means repeating them over and over again! It always helps if you have some Cookspiration!
  3. We don’t need to be perfect! Which is great because as humans, we have flaws, including our love of sweet and salty foods!
  4. Don’t let one day of falling off the healthy eating bandwagon discourage you. Instead, figure out what caused you to go off course, and determine how to prevent it from happening again.
  5. Most importantly, be realistic. Changing your eating habits, or any behavior for that matter takes time and can be challenging, so realize that it’s going to be a journey.

Let Nutrition Month inspire you to start your 100 meal journey by making small healthy changes to your eating. It’ll have a positive impact on your health for years to come!

Tell us, what small healthy change you would make to start your 100 meal journey?
Karen Wismer
Public Health Nutritionist