100 Days of Mini-Pledges

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14 "Real Food" Mini Pledges...baby steps for cutting out processed food!We took our own pledge for 100 days in part to convince others that they could follow our same “real food” rules for only 10 days. We realize not everyone is keen on the idea of going “cold turkey” with the 10 Days of Real Food pledge though, which is why we also developed 14 weeks of mini-pledges. If taking baby steps is more your speed then check out the weekly “real food” challenges detailed below.

If you’re interested in giving these weekly challenges a shot you could start at the beginning or go in your own preferred order. You could also build each week on top of the next or simply tackle one weekly challenge at a time. Our hope is if you take these mini-pledges (or the 10-day pledge) that you’ll gain a new perspective from the experience and make at least some positive long-term changes as a result. No matter what though…these pledges will get you to start reading ingredient labels (if you don’t already)!

14 Weeks of “Real Food” Mini-Pledges:

  • Week 1: Two fruits and/or vegetables per meal – Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables (preferably organic) with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.
  • Week 2: “Real” beverages – Beverages will be limited to coffee, tea, water, and milk (only naturally sweetened with a little honey or 100% pure maple syrup). One cup of juice will be allowed throughout the week, and wine (preferably red) will be allowed in moderation (an average of one drink per day).
  • Week 3: Meat – All meat consumed this week will be locally raised (within 100-miles of your hometown). Meat consumption will also be limited to 3 – 4 servings this week, and when it is eaten meat will not be presented as the “focal point” of the meal. Instead meat will be treated as a side item or simply used to help flavor a dish.
  • Week 4: No fast food or deep-fried foods – No fast food or any foods that have been deep-fried in oil.
  • Week 5: Try two new whole foods – Try a minimum of two new whole foods that you’ve never had before.
  • Week 6: No low-fat, lite or nonfat food products – Do not eat any food products that are labeled as “low-fat,” “lite,” “light,” “reduced fat,” or “nonfat.”
  • Week 7: 100% Whole grain – All grains consumed must be 100% whole-grain.
  • Week 8: Stop eating when you feel full – Listen to your internal cues and stop eating when you feel full.
  • Week 9: No refined sweeteners – No refined or artificial sweeteners including (but not limited to): white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. Foods and beverages can only be sweetened with a moderate amount of honey or maple syrup.
  • Week 10: No refined oils – No refined or hydrogenated oils including (but not limited to): vegetable oil, organic vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, organic canola oil, margarine, and grape seed oil.
  • Week 11: Eat local foods – Eat at least 1 locally grown or raised food at each meal. This includes, but is not limited to: fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, nuts, meats, and sweeteners like honey.
  • Week 12: No sweeteners – Avoid all added sweeteners including, but not limited to: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, maple sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice.
  • Week 13: Nothing artificial – Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors.
  • Week 14: No more than 5-ingredients – Avoid any and all packaged food products that contain more than five ingredients no matter what ingredients

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184 comments to 100 Days of Mini-Pledges

  • Debbie Fockler

    Today is day two of my ten day pledge. The green smoothie was a modified version of your recipe. It tasted just as good though and filled me up quite well. Thanks for the pledge and the website.

  • Cheryl Jones

    Lisa you are darling! Great work. I’m not sure if there is a better place to leave this comment so I’ll just have a go…check out http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org I replace all my oils with coconut oil to get 3 TBL a day of medium chain fatty acids that are medicinal and extremely important as a cellular food. you might find it more than approves real food and what a wonderful alternative when something needs to be ‘deep fried’. In addition there are 5 parts to a coconut: (meat, cream, milk, oil & water) And one other interest….coconut sugar. considered a whole food sugar. Something to get aquainted with. Dr Bruce Fife among others are educated in this amazing seed and it’s health benefits. Thank you for your dedication :)

  • miccah

    Hi! it’s great to see that you are encouraging moms and dads to take control of their own diets and show their children, by example, that eating whole foods is waht we really ought to be doing with our bodies. I do have to say that I have researched evaporated cane juice, or “Panela” sugar, which comes in hard blocks from Central or South America. I can get these in my local grocery store, and the research I have read has convinced me that it’s a great, economical and nutritionally whole sweetener. I am not talking about the semi-processed “raw sugar.” this stuff is just dried-up cane juice which is pressed into bricks. it has a lovely maple-like flavor from all the molasses it contains. anyway, i encourage you to do the research on your own and see about striking it off your “banned” list. it’s good to have a solid-state sugar with all nutrients intact. thank you so much for what you do!

  • MacKenna

    I cannot imagine how much time this has taken you to research, cook, tweek and post everything on your website.

    Thanks for sharing so many great recipes and thought provoking ideas.

    I’m trying hard to improve our family diet but it’s time consuming!

  • Great stuff Lisa! I publish a local website with social media that is centered around wellness as being one of its pillars. Would love to refer to your website in writing short articles on the commitment. We’re working with a vegetarian who writes weekly recipes and tips, and also the local Slow Food group to raise awareness. Let me know if we can share back to your blog.


    Todd Smekens

  • Lisa

    My family and I getting ready to starting doing the pledge mini weeks this upcoming Monday and though we are doing it in order I do have a question about the oils. With coconut oil does it make food sweeter? So is it going to sweeten my vegetables where I may want a more savory flavor, also can you suggest some real brands of extra virgin olive oil?

  • Homebrewed whole grain beer doesn’t count as a real beverage? No syrups here…and sometimes hops grown in the front yard!

    I have been slowly switching our family over to local foods (CSA, our own eggs, bartering with eggs, farmers market meats and dry beans and fruit). But we can’t give up the beer!

    Can anyone recommend a good oil for making mayonnaise? Olive oil is too strong-tasting (I never thought I’d say that!).

  • Brandie Taylor

    I am starting week one today. I have been wanting to do this for awhile now but I don’t think I could do it cold turkey, so when I found this website I was so happy.

  • Liz

    My husband asked about home brew too! He’s on board, but not willing to give up the home brewing. I guess it’s better than store bought, so maybe he will just need to “cheat”.

  • Melissa Nowack

    This is an AMAZING idea! I love the mini pleges and how we, as a family, can work to accomplish each one! I am going to have a family meeting this week to propose this idea to my husband and kids! I LOVE THIS! ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I wish that you lived next door to me! :O)

  • Jenn

    I’m a little late on this one, but want to start this upcoming week. Is the idea to take each pledge just for a week…or to keep building upon the previous week. For instance, on week 14, should you still be following weeks 1-13 as well? Obviously this would be ideal…but just thought I would ask!


    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jenn. You can do whatever you are comfortable with. The goal in doing the mini-pledges is to gain a new perspective from the experience and make at least some positive long-term changes as a result. Good luck. Jill

  • Marina

    I am so excited to get started on following your plan’s. I am currently on a gluten, dairy and egg free diet due to a few health issue’s and had a blood test done that showed I was intolerant to those. The diet has been really hard, especially since I really want to follow a diet like this one. In three months I can add them hopefully back into my diet and then I am totally following this.
    What a great website this is, I am loving it.

  • Thabata

    I’ve been “studying” your blogs for 2 days now and last night I watched Food, Inc.
    I am dizzy with so much information and I’m so grateful for your blog for breaking it all to pieces and making it so easy and fun to understand.
    I still have a couple “articles” to read from you blog but I just wanted to say You’ve changed my perspective on food and now I want to change my life…Of course I’ve seen several “no-no” that makes me think “How can I live without that?” (i.e. deep fried food, sugar) and I’m pretty sure my husband will NOT be on board. You see of every one in this house (me and Husband, 2 and 4 year olds) he’s THE MOST picky. My son (4) will absolutely NOT try ANY food, he’ll cry, he’d run, he’d throw up…but he will NOT eat whatever I’m trying to make him eat. My husband is a grown man and knows exactly what he likes and what not. He says he has a problem with textures, so cutting the white bread and switching to whole grain will be a challenge. He can’t stand anything fiber-y, mushy, soft. Me and my daughter are pretty much the same, we eat mostly anything and we’re willing to try new things. The problem are the boys!
    I’d very much appreciated if you could give some advice, tips and show show me some articles that could help me with those problems.
    Again thank you very much for all your work and example…What an inspiration!

  • Melanie

    We (2 adults, and our 14 month twins) are just beginning week one, and we plan to build each of the 14 weeks upon each other. I’m a vegetarian and have been 15 years; my husband does eat meat, and while we do eat a lot of whole foods, I have definitely bought in to the low-fat, non-fat, light ideology. So, learning to eat “real” versions of certain foods will be a big challenge for me.
    I think with our boys, especially, we’ve fallen into what I call the “cracker trap:” They’re hungry and fussing, yet dinner isn’t ready yet…so we just give them some goldfish crackers to hold them (or, rather, keep them occupied) until dinner.
    I’m excited to start leading a more healthy life and to set positive example for our sons.

  • Jill

    After landing on your website many times, chatting up your thoughts with my friends and starting the 100 days of mini-pledges almost two weeks ago I discovered just today that you live in Charlotte. I’m living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after living 8 years in Dilworth. I miss have the convenience of Earth Fare, The Fresh Market and the farmer’s market where everyone speaks English. Taking your pledge has forced me to learn more about Brazil’s food and processing (all in Portuguese.) I’m approaching week three where I’ll have to communicate with the Brazilians at market enough to learn where their meat is from…yikes!! Thank you for your posts, blogs and recipes!! I’ll be spreading the word about you here in Rio!
    Also – maple syrup is EXTREMELY expensive here…other than honey, do you have any other natural sweetener suggestions?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jill. I know Lisa and her family stick to maple syrup and honey. You can always try substituting honey for maple syrup in recipes. Best of luck. Jill

  • Ester Maria Tavarez

    Love this site! My cousin “liked” your page so I took a look. I am excited to take the mini pledges in preparation for the 100 day pledge. We have a picky, soon-to-be, three-year-old so I will definitely be reading your tips about helping him through this. Thanks so much for breaking it down. I have Michael Pollan’s books, but admittedly, never finished reading them. I will now try again so that I truly understand the “why” behind our efforts.

  • Rebecca

    I have really enjoyed reading this site and am ready to take the plunge. My concern is that I eat a few meals out during the weekend. It’s my social time and I don’t want to give it up. How can I incorporate all the learnings on this site when I can’t cook my own food?

  • Sydney

    Eating this way just makes sense. It’s the way food was designed to be and the way people were designed to eat. It just makes sense to know what you are eating and where it came from. Eating healthy should make sense. It’s not about the fat and calories, it’s the simple things people have lived on for years. Thanks so much!

  • Robin

    I’m starting the 100 days of Mini Pledges beginning September 1…my family is the reason for the “baby steps” version. I am confident that we will be able to do it. We will all be healthier and I will be happier..and like they say happy wife, happy life. Thanks for your guidance!

  • Jennie

    Thinking I’m going to give this a try. My mom just died of lung cancer and breast cancer runs in my family. I have 3 children under 5. They will eat fruits and vegetables, but much prefer sugar and snacks from a box. I plan on beginning with a few changes listed here and then add more each week. Excited but a little (lot) intimidated by this. Thanks for paving the way for those of us who want to do something different but haven’t done it yet. One quick question for clarification sake. I noticed Pelligrino advertises on your site. Their ingredient list is long (much longer than 5). I’m just wondering about how they fit into the whole foods category and what other exceptions there are to the 5-ingredient rule? Do you have a list of “longer-than-5-ingredient store-bought exceptions? Might help in my shopping process. Thank you again.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jennie. I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. To answer your questions, as a general rule, we do exclude food and pharma advertising, but do allow water and some other products that we consider “ok”. Pelligrino is a naturally occurring mineral water…as far as I know it contains that plus maybe some added nutrients which would not be the same in following the 5 ingredient rule. That being said, the 5 ingredient rule is just where we picked to “draw the line”. There may be cases where common sense dictates that it’s ok if it has more than 5 ingredients (i.e. nut mix with 7 or 8 nuts and some spices). The overall goal is to avoid overly processed foods and, generally, if you stick to 5 ingredients or less you will likely do that. If you’d like to to do the 10 day pledge or mini-pledges, I would stick closely to “the rules”, then later you can make changes as you see fit. This will help you to change your perspective which is also a goal. Best of luck to you. Jill

  • Gen

    So I pretty much do all of the above except the very first one, which is why I always end up eating dark chocolate or home made muesli slice way way too much. Its still possible to be overweight on non processed foods if you get your servings all wrong!!

  • Lynn

    I have a daughter with GERD and reactive hypoglycemia. I need to keep her protein level high but without adding much fat or acidic food to her diet. Anyone have ideas?

  • Jem

    I was told by my nutrition professor that if you want to use cooking oil, to buy coconut oil. It is the best for you. Even though everyone always says to use vegetable oil.

  • Leesha

    Since starting the mini challenge, has anyone lost weight?

  • shoukry henain

    thank you
    hope to success in your work

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