Ever since Thursday’s post, I’ve been thinking about the power of small changes. Something I’d especially liked about the notion of Meatless Mondays was the opportunity to totally switch your diet up for a day. Lately, I’ve developed some pretty deplorable food ruts: Gum, for example. (Not the worst thing in the world, but I don’t think I need it every time I sit down with my computer.) Or Starbuck’s reduced-fat coffee cake. (Really. I mean, can’t I at least shake it up a little?)
Increasingly, we’re seeing research that foods can be psychologically addicting–some, like sugar, are even physically so. We all know that breaking habits using “don’ts” is pretty miserable. And swearing off favorites indefinitely can seem so overwhelming it’s easy to break down. So wouldn’t a “small steps” approach be worth a shot here? Instead of permanently cutting out foods you’re really liking, just give yourself a short break, making sure to replace the overused ones with interesting things or ways of eating you want to try. As you’re focusing on the new stuff, you give your body a chance to detox a little, so when you go back to normal, your cravings won’t be quite as strong (and maybe you’ll add to your menu). I emailed nutritionist and Svelte Gourmand regular Stephanie Middleburg about this. It turns out she’s way ahead of me.
Here’s what she wrote (I loved the tone of her response): “Totally! I like mixing things up and providing clients with the specific day-long diet plans to get them out of their normal eating routine. They have a chance to break some food ruts and try new things.”
Specifically, Stephanie’s a big fan of “vegan days,” which she often implements once a week (kind of a Meatless Monday plus). Below, she’s put together a typical such day. (Looks intriguing. I’m in!) In italics, I’ve added a few chicken scratches, questions, and possible recipes…
Breakfast: Oatmeal made with soy or hemp milk plus 1 cup berries and cinnamon.
Snack: Fruit (oranges–and papaya–are in season right now, among many) plus walnuts
Lunch: Quinoa salad (Chef Matt’s recipe might be a good one to try for this), or a salad made of chickpeas, 3-4 vegetables, avocado, and a little extra virgin olive oil and vinegar.
Snack: Lara bar (I didn’t know what these were! Turns out they’re vegan, gluten-free bars made of unsweetened fruits, nuts, and spices. They look pretty good. Thoughts…?)
Dinner: Tofu Stir-Fry (The New York Times has about a million amazing recipes. Here’s one with a great, easy soy-and-sherry sauce; I’ve made a similar version and love it. And, here’s a funny Mark Bittman post about pumpkin-chive-garlic-etc. tofu that I just happen to love. It’s called “A good Stir Fry Hides a Lot of Faults.” I couldn’t agree more!)