New month, new challenge! Start fresh and join the 7-day challenge, healthy meal plan for a week and meal ideas included! The challenge this month is about eating lower carb after 2 pm for 7 days.
Now it’s a thing, it’s a tradition! Here’s to the second month this year I’m making a clean eating challenge and sharing a healthy meal plan.
RECAP ON THE LAST CLEAN EATING CHALLENGE
The last challenge became very popular very quickly, I guess we’re all on the same page: we know resolutions aren’t over after January and we all need a little bit of a reset and challenge every month.
For me, the first clean eating challenge definitely made me more conscious of what and how much I’m putting into my body. I still didn’t eat extremely healthy, but I felt good about it. I mean, I was invited to some events and birthdays and I can’t say no to a piece of cake because I’m doing a challenge.
The biggest goal for me was to snack less and to really let myself feel hungry before I eat. And I achieved that goal. It involved lots of water, but already by day 2, I felt like I have this snacking under control. I started having 2 real meals that were really healthy and indulged in small desserts here and had one smoothie a day (lately I’m not much of a breakfast eater).
THIS CHALLENGE & HEALTHY MEAL PLAN: LOWER CARB AFTER 2 PM
For this month’s challenge, we’re going to try something a little different.
We’ll be again eating as healthy as possible, but also trying to eat lower carb after 2 pm. Look, it doesn’t mean keto, but just fewer carbs.
So if you’re vegan, don’t make yourself crazy trying to make this happen, strive to make your meals a little bit lower carb. Maybe instead of 1 cup quinoa, you use 1/2 cup quinoa and add more avocado, vegetables or nuts.
Also if you cheat, cheat. Life happens. Try not to make a big drama about it because that can lead to overeating. If you’re craving something, have it and promise yourself you’ll be okay with it, let go of the guilt. Then do better the next meal.
BENEFITS OF EATING THIS WAY
There are a few theories on why eating less carbs in the afternoon might work. One is that we tend to be less active during the evening, so it gets harder to burn off the carbs if you eat them at 8 pm which might lead to water retention and in the end those carbs stored as fat.
To be honest with you, I am not sure this is the truth, I haven’t found any good paper on this, although it does make sense, but who knows really?
I found a few articles on the google about people who’ve tried different variations of eating this way
As I said, I have seen it work for me 4 years ago, my stomach was flat in the morning which never happened before.
I personally think that when you consciously limit your carbohydrate, fat or overall calorie intake at a certain time of the day, the thing that happens is that you end up eating less OVERALL. And with me, I know I eat a lot of carbs on a regular day. I like my bread, I like my pasta and I would have them all on the same day. If I cut one of these out, I know I’ll end up eating less overall and my body will be able to handle the carbs coming in better.
So why this works might be the insulin spikes, the water retention, it might be the circadian rhythm, who knows? This is simply my observation, experience and my thoughts.
EATING HEALTHY FOR BEGINNERS
If you’re just starting out with eating healthy, first congrats for making this decision!
And second, take it one day at a time. You do need to eat more foods that contain antioxidants (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds) and you do need to limit processed and fried foods, sugar, pastries, probably dairy, but try to be gentler with yourself, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
So I don’t know about you, but I can’t stick to a structured meal plan for a week to save my life. It just doesn’t work for my schedule and my mentality(!).
I like to have a loose plan, more like a vision of what I want to have during the day. But I also want to be able to switch things up when something unexpected comes up. So no, you don’t have to stick to this exact meal plan.
7 DAY HEALTHY MEAL PLAN
Below you’ll find some healthy recipes for breakfast lunch and dinner. For this healthy meal plan, it’s completely your choice how you mix and match them.
Many of the lunch and dinner recipes have leftovers that you can eat the next day. Another option to make this easier is to meal prep some meals for the week.