Hello best life seekers!
Do you feel like your eating habits could use a health boost or that you’re eating too much red meat? Maybe you would like to become vegetarian but aren’t quite ready to commit all the way. Why not take the 7 Day Pescatarian Challenge to clean up your diet for a week? It’s easy and healthy and better yet, yummy!
What is the 7 Day Pescatarian Challenge?
For a week, commit to eat a vegetarian diet supplemented with seafood. That means no land-based meats like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, etc. Your only meat will be seafood – fish and shellfish (unless you’re allergic). Cheese and milk are still allowed, though feel free to exclude them as milk is a common allergen and inflammatory agent. Pescatarians often eat eggs so don’t feel like you need to exclude these either.
You’ll be eating a really healthy diet similar to the one the longest-lived people are known to eat! How does that sound?
If you have heard about blue zones – cultures around the world with the highest longevity – you know that the majority are semi-vegetarian and often make seafood a staple of their diets. Seventh Day Adventists, a blue zone group, are purely vegetarian. In blue zones, 1 in 3 people live into their 90s. Maybe these people are onto something?
There are sooo many reasons to switch from a land-based meat diet to a seafood diet:
- Fish is a lean, white meat
- Great source of omega fatty acids
- High in iron, B vitamins and other vitamins and minerals
And the benefits of vegetarianism are even greater:
- Cancer prevention
- Beating heart disease
- Lowering blood pressure
- Preventing and reversing diabetes
- Prevention of gallstones, kidney stones and osteoperosis
- Asma prevention
- Better digestion
- Most sustainable diet for the planet
Why 7 Days?
One week isn’t a large commitment and is easy to plan. Plus you won’t feel overwhelmed by learning a ton of new recipes or feel like you’re completely giving up your eating lifestyle for good – though, hey, if you like the changes and the benefits, please continue!
Seven days are good for dipping your toes into a semi-vegetarian diet, learning new recipes and eating patterns, and can help you transition to eating healthier overall. And besides, who doesn’t enjoy a new challenge to get excited about?
Whenever we try something new or try to change habits, we should remind ourselves of a few things:
Firstly, we’ve been doing things a certain way for a while. When it comes to food, we’ve trained our bodies and minds to like what we’re already doing. When we try new foods, we may go into withdrawal from the removal of our usual foods. That and our gut biomes have adapted to our old eating habits and will undergo a shift when our foods change. Most people don’t realize this and think their body is reacting negatively to the new foods when really, it’s mostly withdrawal symptoms. If you’ve ever tried to give up coffee or colas for a week, you know what I’m taking about! The same is true for flour, meat, etc. Use this week to learn how addicted your body is to your current way of eating. You might find it eye-opening.
Secondly, we are creatures of habit. Don’t expect to like or love all the food recipes. If you’ve never tried something before, try it with an open mind. Think of this week as aa way to experience new foods or find new recipes to incorporate into your meal rotation. See it as a fun exercise, not a drag, and you’ll have better results.
Thirdly, when we take on a food challenge, the experience is usually new. The recipes will take longer to organize and prep simply because you haven’t spent years making them. In time the ingredients and recipes become second nature and you can modify them as easily as your current meal rotations. Expect the learning curve rather than be upset by it. Most of these recipes are quick and easy for beginners.
Fourthly, food is culture. If your family and friends are meat lovers who have never seen a vegetable they didn’t hate, you may feel peer pressure over your new food selections or feel tempted to cheat and eat like normal. Remember that this is only a week-long challenge. If others tell you to cheat or give you grief, you can point out gently:
- Your health issues if you have any
- Any health issues in your family
- That you are trying to alleviate or prevent any health issues
- And that you could really use support since this isn’t easy
Many people if approached this way will be more considerate and helpful, especially if you tell them you don’t expect them to eat like you (some immediate family members will fear any food changes). Accept this and remember that you are the only person who can truly make the changes you want. Respect and love yourself enough to try what you’re wanting to do, no matter what others think.
All this said, we’re human and we get cravings. Don’t beat yourself up if you lapse during the challenge, just continue on with the next meal and be proud for what you do follow. Also, try not to make the challenge impossible by scheduling it around holidays. Only the most willful and possibly masochistic can survive holidays and their associated foods. On the flip side, if you’re trying to give up the excesses of the holidays, by all means, use this challenge as an excuse!
Now onto the nuts and bolts.
How It Works
The 7 Day Pescatarian Challenge is pretty straight-forward. You’ll be eating vegetarian and seafood meals for a week. To do that:
- Pick a week to do the 7 Day Pescatarian Challenge
- Make room in your fridge and in your mental space for the change
- Plan out and organize your meals for the week for best results. Design them with your family or friends for added support and team-building if they’re willing.
- Make your grocery list
- Buy the food
- Prepare the meals yourself or for best results, with your family. Healthy food habits are teachable moments, as is food preparation. Children can’t learn healthy food habits if not exposed to them or taught the recipes. Cooking together means time together. Make cooking social.
- Eat and enjoy – the more the merrier!
7 Day Pescatarian Challenge Recipe Suggestions
It’s easiest to enjoy the challenge and keep with it if you include meals you already like that are vegetarian or pescatarian. Love your green bean casserole or cheddar mashed potatoes? Maybe you already do a mean grilled salmon. Bust them out this week!
Organize around meals such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts. We tend to make the same handful of meals so don’t feel like every single meal for the week must be new and original. That gets expensive and stressful fast because you have to buy a larger variety of food and learn too many new recipes you may not be at all familiar with. Also, why waste any leftovers?
Check out this week-long plan and pantry list so you can take the challenge and run with it. Not every day includes seafood but the majority do. Feel free to mix and match however you like to make this challenge your own! Don’t like these suggestions? Check out these 20 pescatarian dinner recipes and 18 vegetarian lunch ideas for inspiration. A really great website about pescatarianism that also contains a plethora of amazing recipes is Pescetarian Kitchen.
Now onto the week’s meal plan!
7 Day Pescatarian Challenge Meal Plan
Breakfast: Spinach and cheese omelet, cup of grapes on the side. Optional: toast
Lunch: Mediterranean chickpea salad
Dinner: Tilapia tacos; Substitute any white fish
Snacks: Chips and salsa; healthier option: fruit and nuts
Breakfast: Grapes and walnuts with yogurt
Lunch: Avocado and tomato salad
Dinner: Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
Snacks: Pita chips and hummus
Breakfast: Strawberry, banana, spinach, coconut milk smoothie
Lunch: Tuna fish and spinach sandwiches
Snack: Pita chips and guacamole
Dinner: Drunken mussels
Breakfast: Avocado toast
Dinner: Ginger veggie stir fry
Snack: Olives and stuffed peppers from the grocery store olive bar – or anything from the olive bar
Dessert: Bananas with chopped nuts drizzled with honey or chocolate
Breakfast: Fruit bowl of strawberries and banana. Side option: honey toast
Lunch: White bean salad with anchovies; substitute smoked clams, mussels or oysters
Dinner: Shrimp zucchini linguine
Snack: Red pepper hummus with cucumber dippers
Breakfast: Cheese and egg breakfast tacos; Optional add-in: Veggie sausage
Lunch: Lentil soup with avocado and tomato sandwich
Dinner: Sweet potato gnocchi and grilled salmon
Snack: Pecan-stuffed dates
Breakfast: Chocolate croissant (hey, one day of being decadent is nice, right?); Substitute blueberry and banana oatmeal
Lunch: Red lentil salad with feta
Dinner: Sexy fish stew
Dessert: Baked apples drizzled with honey and nuts
If none of these ideas tickle your fancy, feel free to find the ones that do! So many recipe resources exist on the internet. My favorite is allrecipes.com.
Pescatarian Pantry List
In order to cook like a healthy pescatarian, it’s helpful to know how to stock your pantry. This is a list of foods and ingedients that can make up a fantastic pantry for eating healthy and deliciously:
Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
Nuts – walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds
White cooking wine
Tilapia or cod filets
Canned or fresh tuna, anchovies, mussels, oysters, clams
Canned or dried white beans, chick peas, lentils, black beans
Fresh or canned diced tomatoes
Flour or corn tortillas
Spinach, kale, greens
Whole grain bread or pita bread
Sweet potato gnocchi
While fresh and from scratch is best, let’s face it, not everyone has the time or willingness. Here are timesavers and substitutions:
- Instant oatmeal and cream of wheat
- Canned beans and vegetables: drain and rinse them though
- Frozen vegetables and fruit
- Frozen fish filets
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Store-made guacamole, salsa and hummus
To make your meals more nutritious, please stay away from boxed and packaged meals. This is a week devoted to improving your health and learning new eating habits. Processed food is one of the worst offenders in the current health crisis of modern life.
Good luck with the Pescatarian Challenge and happy eating!
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