Taking on the Whole30 or another food challenge this month? You’re definitely not alone.
Millions of Americans embark on healthy eating quests during the month of January. For the past few years, I’ve tried to eat only home-cooked food for the whole month of January and have enjoyed the process of reconnecting with my kitchen and dinner rituals.
Epicurious is hosting the #Cook90 challenge, but I can’t even begin to think about cooking three times a day all month long, so I’m sticking with what my friend Martha Pincoffs is calling 30 At Home, a challenge to eat 30 days of home-cooked meals, even if they are at your friend’s house.
Based on our traffic numbers, Whole30 is the most popular, but no matter which way you’re trying to eat better, I have some general suggestions for getting through your January challenge:
- Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to take on too much all at once.
- Find a support system and use it. Connect with friends who are taking on a similar challenge and plan to cook/eat together at least a few times during the month. Send texts and make calls to offer support and check in with others.
- Push through the first week. The first few days of any big charge are going to be tough. Find other ways to motivate yourself through, such as small (non-food) rewards.
- Build in a cheat day halfway through the month. Even if you don’t take advantage of it, giving yourself mental permission to take a break if you really need it will lessen the pressure you feel each day.
- Shop at a different grocery store or at a different time of day. Or if you really like your store/routine, add some music or a stop by the gym on the way there. The idea is to tweak your grocery shopping habits, too. Make a list so you know what you are there to buy, and don’t get distracted by the foods you might really want but don’t fit with your intentions for the challenge. If you’re trying to avoid junk food, don’t buy junk food. Cutting down on carbs? Skip the bread aisle entirely.
- Go to a farmers market if you can. It’s a notoriously slow season for local farmers, but the produce, meats, dairy and other local products might inspire a meal you wouldn’t have otherwise made or create a connection with a local brand that supports this new path you’re exploring with the challenge in the first place.
- Treat yourself to a meal kit. If you’re worried about getting board, plan ahead and order a meal kit delivery halfway through the month to reinvigorate your brain and your routine. Every specialty diet has a meal kit now, but I’ve tried Blue Apron, Plated and Purple Carrot.
- Get your knives sharpened. A dull knife is way more dangerous than a sharp one. Almost all the farmers markets have a knife sharpener on site, but you can also take them to Austin’s Knife Sharpest or Knife Party Mobile Sharpening.