Nine 30-Day Healthy Eating Challenges

By Darren Stehle

healthy eating challenges

A few months ago my partner and I decided to give up desserts for 30-days. We both felt that we had been indulging a bit too much. It was May, sun-tanning weather was close at hand, and World Pride about to hit Toronto in just over a month. We had more than enough “vanity reasons” to make the choice to give up desserts.

Sometimes we need to stop or give up something to start a new habit. Sometimes we need to stop something for a short period to take a break. Whatever the reason, these types of challenges are cleansing.

In my case giving up desserts was cleansing on a “gut-level.” I felt better on the inside. I was less bloated and my stomach didn’t hurt.

It helped having Christiaan to partner with in my 30-days of no desserts challenge. When you have someone else to be accountable to, you have their moral support to succeed. If you mess up and feel like you’re failing, a few words from your accountability partner can make all the difference. Even if you make a simple mistake having that social support can help you to get right back on track.

Ask yourself, What eating habit do you want to improve?

What eating challenge would make you feel better and healthier in 30-days?

Nine 30-Day Healthy Eating Challenges

  1. No desserts
  2. Go entirely sugar-free (Read food labels to look for added sugar)
  3. No alcohol
  4. No designer coffees (mochachino, caramel fatty-fatted, etc.)
  5. No starchy carbs (No pasta, bread, or rice)
  6. No processed foods
  7. Eat a protein-rich breakfast
  8. Eat healthy snacks at work
  9. Eat a healthy salad for lunch at work

Here’s my challenge to you — Choose one of the healthy eating challenges above (or come up with your own) and stick with it for 30-days.

What’s Your Why?

Take a piece of paper and write out why you want to do this challenge. Just write and don’t over think it. A few sentences will do.

What is your why?

Decide How You Want to Feel AFTER the Challenge

Do you want to go back to the same-old-you?

Give some thought to this before you get started. If you want to give up or reduce your processed sugar intake, what will you do after the challenge?

For example, when I gave up desserts for 30-days, I decided that my outcome was to feel better. I wanted to feel less bloated, have more stable energy levels, and reduce the fat around my mid-section.

At the end of my 30-day challenge that is exactly what happened.

Do You Need Accountability?

Next, find an accountability partner, but don’t take more than a few days to do this or you’ll lose momentum.

If you can’t find an accountability partner you could share your challenge on Facebook, your blog, or whatever social media platform you use. Ask for friendly support. Make regular updates and don’t make excuses.

Get Ready

Look at your calendar and decide on the date you’re going to start. I’d suggest a Sunday or Monday, depending on what’s easiest for your lifestyle. I’d also suggest you start within a week to 10-days.

Make a list, if needed, of how you need to prepare. Of the nine challenges above, some are about taking something away. To prepare, you may need to remove any of the offending items from your home that you don’t want to eat.

For the challenges like, “Eat a healthy salad for lunch at work”, how will you do that? Will you make a salad the night before or in the morning, and take it with you? Do you need a food storage container? Can you buy a quality, healthy salad at a take-out restaurant or food court near your office?

Before you start, measure!

Take your bodyweight and record it. If you can, have your skin folds, body circumference and body fat measured (a bio-impedence scale is great to use here).

Keep a journal to note how you feel during the challenge. When do you feel “challenged to cheat?” How is your energy, mood, sleep, etc.?

Measuring Waist Circumference

Track Your Progress

How will you know how you are doing? By keeping track.

Use a blank calendar and put a check mark or an “X” for each day. You are looking for a “winning streak.”

In the case of weekday challenges, you don’t put a mark on the weekends, unless you want to.

You can also use one of the many habit apps you can find for your phone or tablet.

Challenge Example Breakdown

You’ve decided on your challenge. How will this look?

Using my own “no desserts” example, this is what I did. I remove all desserts, cookies, etc. from my home. It’s just too easy to cheat if you see what you don’t want in front of your face.

Since I was doing this with my partner we both knew why we wanted to succeed. On more than one occasion one of us stopped the other from giving in to “dessert-tempation.”

Decide in advance of dinners out or at family gatherings if you will allow a cheat meal, of if you want to hold true to your challenge.

If you don’t want to cheat, explain to your friends why this challenge is important to you. Ask them for their understanding and support.

To Cheat or Not to Cheat?

Do you allow for cheats? You’re human, and unless you’re super incredibly awesome, and better than me, I’d say you should allow for cheats.  😛

We didn’t decide on an official cheat policy, but we knew that we would have some family visits where desserts would be served. We chose not to say “no” and it turned out to only be twice.

Here is a “human-friendly” cheat guideline. Allow yourself the possibility of one “dessert” every 1-2 weeks. Limit these cheats to special occasions such as birthdays or when a friend invites you to dinner at their home. If they’ve made dessert, having a small piece is both polite and freeing.

You could also ask your friend not to make dessert when they initially invite you. Explain why so that they understand.

Otherwise stay true to your goals by not buying or making a dessert for yourself during these 30-days.

Share Your Healthy Eating Challenge with Me

Share your challenge and desired outcome in the comments below.

Take this one-question survey.

Want accountability? Send me an email and I will check in with you once a week and at the end of your 30-day challenge. I look forward to your success story!

PS. Be sure to download my eBook, Healthy Meals & Snacks, to learn easy ways to eat healthy for your 30-day challenge.

Transparent Darren