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

  • Sarah

    Thank you for all of your helpful ideas. I hope it goes on for more than 100 days!

  • Shelly

    I would love to do this but can’t afford to sadly :( Eating healthy is a lot more expensive. Frozen food and microwavable foods and anything quick is so much cheaper than eating what is good for you. But for those of you that can afford it…go for it, eat healthy & be healthy!

    • Kathy Buffan

      Shelly, you should check out the 100 days on a budget. There are a lot of great healthy ideas based on $125/week budget.

    • Sherlyn

      Shelly, check into http://www.BountifulBaskets.org – if they are in your area – they are a great and economical way of getting lots of fruits & veggies for a great price.

    • Erica

      Frozen veggies and fruit are sometimes just as good for you and those prices are from her stores your store might be cheaper in price on things

    • Wilde

      We make our own granola, pancakes, and bread (all 100% whole wheat/ whole grain) because it’s healthier AND much less expensive.

    • Liz

      When we cut proccessed foods out of our budget, we spent LESS on groceries! Try buying just (mostly organic) fruits, veggies, and about 3 packages of meats to last a week and see your budget go down. We bake our own breads, which helps too. An week we spend about 80 -100 for two adults and a toddler.

  • Christine

    Shelly,

    Have you looked into Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or farmer’s markets? I find it to be much cheaper than the supermarket, and much cheaper than processed food. You can find local CSAs on localharvest.org. I pay $15 a week for a half-share. Even with fruits and veggies being the center of every meal, I still have enough to give away!

  • Jodie

    I’ve always struggled with food and I’ve been trying to figure out how to get a handle on it. I read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules book and thought the basic rules were genius! I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and have spent a lot of time reading. I get overwhelmed pretty easily by food and making big changes. The ideas and the information on this site are amazing. My husband and I will be starting the mini pledges next week. I’m really hoping that your approach to food and all that you’ve done for your family (and your readers) will help us finally get a handle on food before we start our own family. Thanks for all the research, tips, and ideas!

  • Debbie

    Hello,

    I have been looking for something like this for a very long time. I have been slowly getting my family to eat healthier and know I need to take the next step. Thank you so much for all the wonderful, clear to understand information. I plan to start mini pledges soon as right now (just found you 3 days ago) it all seems a bit overwhelming.

    Again Thank You

    Debbie

  • Naomi

    $125/week budget?? Try $50/week. Would LOVE to do this, and am working toward it, but $50 will only go so far . . . .my creativity is tested constantly :)

    • Heather

      Naomi and Shelly,
      I spend about $40 a week too, it is no excuse just because we dont have a lot of money. I personally have found it to be a lot cheaper to eat healthy than buy frozen meals or dollar menu items, you just have to spend more time cooking… Buy brown rice that is not “minute rice” and it is like a dollar a bag. A dollar for a bag of beans. If you cant afford fresh bread without additives, make your own or get a bread maker, again, super cheap but more time consuming. Once you buy a few key staple ingredients and kitchen tools, it wont be very hard. I have found a couple ethnic markets that produce is like 400% cheaper than a mainstream market. When you stop buying processed stuff, your grocery bill will go down significantly. You are investing in your health now so you arent paying so high of medical bills later. Best wishes!

  • Robin

    We are finishing Week 2…so far it’s been great and not difficult at all. The daughters (“The Girl” and “The Baby” are being very compliant (as far as I know, The Girl is 13 and not always in my sight). I am feeling better and the addition of more fruit has made my 2 year old very happy. The homemade applesauce delights my husband (“The Man”) every time he see it on the table. His Grandmother’s recipe was CLEAN!!! Next week will be the first real challenge…The Man and The Girl are BIG meat eaters. Mama and The Baby could easily be vegetarians, well pescatarians at least.

  • Melissa @ A Girl Called Cake

    Just found your website and I love it. I just started with the mini pledges and I realized, man; I have A LOT of junk in my pantry! Looking forward to browsing your recipes and ideas. Thanks for all the info!

  • Nicole

    Hi there! My fiance’ and I are going to start this pledge on saturday. I was wondering about nutritional drinks. He loves nutritional drink like the Atkins (sugar free) drinks and bars. How does this fit in to the pledge? My guess is that nutritional drinks are a “no-no” but I thought I’d ask anyways. Thank you everyone!!!

  • Chassidy

    Shelley,

    In the long run, frozen and microwavable foods are not going to be cheaper. It’s easier and cheaper to eat healthy in the first place, than to have to fix what a poor diet did to your body.

  • Lisa, thank you for inspiring our latest workplace health initiative! I recently started following your blog, and thought that your 100 days of mini-pledges would be a perfect health initiative for our small office. I coordinate all of our wellness initiatives here at Paradigm and have been looking for something that would work for our group. We have made a few tweaks to the program, but you were certainly the inspiration behind it. I am looking forward to challenging my colleagues to improve their eating habits over the next 14 weeks!

  • Sheena

    Since finding your site I have been reading on it everyday. I am planning on starting with the mini pledges. I was wondering if there was a printable list the mini pledges. It would make it easier if I could hang it on my refrigerator.

  • Dena

    Lisa, I have used sugar in the raw for years. Is this ok for tea and coffee?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Dena. Under the “rules” of the 10 day pledge, no, raw sugar would not be ok. If you’re asking beyond that, you’ll have to decide for yourself if you think that’s one of those things you want to “splurge” on a little bit. Best of luck. Jill

  • Kendra

    Question about flavored coffees – there isn’t an ingredient list on my french vanilla coffee – so what’s in it? I’m skeptical that it’s truly only coffee and pure vanilla…why aren’t coffee manufacturers required to put nutrition information on packaging like all other foods?

  • Tina

    Hi I have decided to take this pledge on as a way of a life style change but I am unsure where to start.

  • Megan

    So I have been exploring this site liking the idea of cutting processed foods, but not quite sure if I’m ready…I love to cook and love to make things “from scratch”, but I also have a very pressed schedule and am afraid to make a commitment. I love these “mini-pledges” (or the idea of, as I start the first tomorrow); thanks for making this a gradual, easy process for me!

  • Ginel

    Love this! But HOLD ON… No stevia? Really??? Why not? Please please explain. Is it because it goes thru a process to go from plant to white sugar-like crystals? I think I might’ve just answered myself. I’m trying to lose weight and I’m drinking green tea every day (hate the taste!) so I’m using half a tsp of stevia to sweeten it up a little. I don’t want the extra 30 calories than 2 tsp of honey would give me. Haha I know, 30 calories is nothing but in the long run, it adds up.
    I can’t wait to be able to be fully a non-GMO, non-processed food eater. I live with my sisters and my mom and I’ve put GMO warning stickers on a whole bunch of stuff here. Slowly they are becoming more interested in this matter but it’s difficult. As soon as you step outside the house, you’re bombarded with processed and GM foods. I want to move to a mountain!

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Ginel. Yes – you are correct in answering your own question. Maybe start with just one tsp. of honey and gradually decrease it to no sweetener. Your taste buds may change with time. Best of luck to you. Jill

  • Eva

    I am continuously on the quest of eating healthy. My husband, on the other hand, has much trouble complying. This is a very resourceful website. Will be starting the daily pledges soon!

    We currently have a weekly budget of $150, mind you that includes anything that I pick up at the grocery store – detergents, dog food, etc. If you are discouraged because you do not have the time to cook and processed foods are more convenient. Please give it a try before you rule out the idea. I am a working mom and Army wife; translation: At long times a year I am a single parent to one child and three dogs.
    Many of the foods that go on my table are homemade, from apple sauce to bread. I am not 100% processed free but small and continuous changes do make a difference.

  • Margaret

    My husband and I are planning to make this our New Years resolution. I cannot find anything objectionable in La Croix canned water, but I was curious if this fell into the allowed category?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Margaret. I can’t comment without knowing the ingredients, but, I thought LaCroix contained “natural flavors” which would not be allowed. Jill

  • Beth

    So excited!! I was given your website from a friend. Starting this after the New Year…but I’m realizing I already do the first two weeks:0) What a great feeling to know my family is already starting the process. Thanks for your blog!! I’m ready to start feeling healthier!!

  • Jenny

    Like som of the other posters here, my family is on a tight budget so every penny has to count when I do the grocery shopping! I do find that buying whole ingredients end up being much more economical than processed foods. For the price of one family sized frozen lasagna, I can pick up enough ingredients to make at least 2-3 homemade lasagnas, which are tastier, healthier and easier to customize depending on my family’s preference. We try to purchase produce that is in season. By limiting our meat consumption to 1-2 times a week, this allows us to spend more on better-quality, locally sourced meat; the rest of the time we get a lot of our protein through beans. On weekends we ake homemade whole wheat banana pancakes (using the recipe from this Web site) – It’s easy and we like the taste/texture so much more than that of the commercial mix we used to buy, which not only cost more than the bulk whole wheat flour we now get, but also contained high fructose corn syrup!

    I’ve also learned that foods labeled as “diet” or “fat free” sometmes cost more than the whole fat version, so we now purchase the full-fat version of some items, such yogurt, which we’ve learned is much tastier and keeps us fuller longer.

    I don’t shop at any specialty stores, mostly just Fred Meyer (our local Kroger affiliates) and Trader Joe, and I still have a lot to learn, but if I can learn to shop for whole foods on a budget then anyone can!

  • Abbie gunther

    I really want to make meat less of the “focal point” of all of our meals. How do I do that? I know protein makes you feel full so what are other ideas? Thanks

  • Bobbie

    I would love to do this if someone can give me a solution to my son’ oral allergy syndrome. He can’t eat most fresh fruits and veggies. I am considering at least doing it for the rest of my family.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Bobbie. How about freeze dried fruit – can he have that? As long as you get it with no added sugar, just the fruit. Jill

  • Hi – this is really great!! The only inconsistency is that you say natural, real sweeteners are ok in moderation (when you click on Real Food) but then you say to remove them completely in your 100 days of mini-pledges. You say to get bread locally (which I am fortunate enough to be able to do) but bread with yeast cannot be made without honey or sugar. Our local bakery uses honey and it is the last ingredient.

    I find that I can eat honey and maple syrup, in moderation, along with stevia and feel great and keep the weight off. As a Holistic Health Coach, I also help people learn to eat whole, real foods and getting off of sweeteners and sugar is by far the most daunting of the evils! I’m not sure I want to live a life without honey and maple syrup! Honey has medicinal properties if local honey is eaten. So, should we always strive to be getting off of all honey and maple syrup and stevia, even though they can be handled by the body in small amounts?

    Thank you very much! You are inspiring so many people!!!

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Carolyn. Yes, during the 100 day challenge, Lisa and her family used honey and maple syrup only. The mini-pledges are meant for those that want to ease into a change. They can choose to do a week and that’s it or build upon it…so, it’s not necessarily intended that they would cut out all sweeteners all together (although they may choose to do so after doing the mini-pledge). So, honey and maple syrup are acceptable, although, stevia would not be as it is processed to get it to the form which you would consume it. Hope that helps to clarify things. Jill

  • Susan Stitch

    Just curious, why red wine, not white?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Susan. Many think red is healthier, I’m not certain whether or not there is research out there to support that or not. Sorry I can’t give a more definitive answer. Jill

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