Summer 28 Day Plan - The Results
By the end of the four weeks, we had really settled into the routine of our new, healthier way of eating. At this point our diet was reasonably flexible and it felt comfortable to continue eating this way indefinitely. I thought it would be interesting to review how we had done on the goals we had set at the beginning of our plan:
Making vegetables at least half of each meal
We achieved this well, with most of our meals relying heavily on vegetables to make them satisfying. This did require a bit of effort in meal planning, particularly to adapt recipes we liked that were heavier in starchier items or refined grains, but we typically found a reasonable vegetable substitute that would round out the meal.
Limiting amounts of animal protein, dairy and other saturated fats
The results on this were mixed. One thing that surprised me was that I really didn't miss having milk in my morning coffee on the first 3 days of the diet when we eliminated dairy entirely. It was so easy that I've been continuing this habit and we didn't buy milk during the entire 28 day period. While it was occasionally tempting to overdo yogurt or cheese as a snack, we've largely settled into having 1-2 servings a day of dairy, mostly in the form of yogurt.
Eating fish at least once a week
This was surprisingly easy to do and we found we enjoyed the fish-based meals we had. With it being summer, salmon was a natural choice, but we also expanded our options to include trout, which turned out tender and juicy on the grill, as well as sardines for a quick lunch and blackened rockfish for dinner.
Eating more nuts and healthy oils
The first few days of the diet eliminated all dairy, so we found ourselves using olive oil in breakfast cooking where we otherwise might have used butter. We found the results were good, so we've been continuing that habit and have only had butter on a few occasions where it really added to the dish (e.g. a bit of butter on the corn that was part of our seafood boil). One issue we ran into with this goal was that my husband found his weight loss was stalled for a while due to reaching for peanuts as a frequent snack, but limiting quantities got things going again.
Avoiding processed foods and added sugars
This made meal planning a bit more difficult than usual, due to some recipes relying on processed ingredients. We found we could often come up with reasonable substitutions or seek out recipe sources that made less use of these. For added sugars, we found we could often omit these from recipes and still have good results, though going forward we will probably include these as long as they're in small amounts. I suspect we did have small amounts of added sugar when dining out and there may have been one or two supermarket items that had small amounts (e.g. the Sriracha sausages we grilled, which we later noticed contained a small amount of honey).
Limiting dining out to roughly twice a week
I had thought this might be one of the more difficult goals, but it was surprisingly easy to do. We found ourselves dining out even less frequently than our goal - just five times during the four week period, along with one evening of getting takeout when over at our friends' house.
A result of all these habit changes was a beneficial effect on our waistlines. Going into the 28 day plan, we were each looking to lose some of the weight that we'd put on through our lax eating habits. We were surprised by how effective our eating plan was at this without making us feel particularly deprived (with the possible exception of the first few days which were a bit tough). By the end of the 4 weeks, my husband had lost 6.2 pounds towards his goal of losing 10 pounds and I had finally managed to lose the last 5 pounds I'd been struggling with for over a year plus a bit more for a total of 6.4 pounds.
Going forward, we plan to continue the eating habits we've established, while also loosening things up a bit to allow occasional treats - dining out and dessert limited to twice a week is our current plan. We'll continue to update the blog with recipes for any new meals we try that are in line with our healthy way of eating. We're also planning to repeat the 28 day experiment seasonally to build out a full set of seasonal recipes, so we'll be adding that to the blog in autumn. Interestingly, we're finding we have no strong cravings to go out immediately and try some of the foods we'd been avoiding and that's despite the fact that a Viennese pastry shop had opened in our neighborhood on the very second day of our diet! This is quite a contrast to the days before the diet or even the first few days of it, where the urge to pick up dessert or go out for dinner was very strong on any given day. Overall, the four week plan has been very effective for us to establish new, healthy habits and get past the strong cravings we'd been experiencing.