The founders of the Healthy Monday Campaigns have even come up with a name for the idea: Monday 2,000, a day when we take the opportunity to reset our diets after the greasy pizza slices and decedent restaurant deserts have taken their weekend toll.
Below is a sample meal plan using recipes from the Rodale Recipe Finder (which provides calorie counts and other nutritional information for every recipe). If you'd rather be creative on your own, just follow the rule of 400: Limit your three meals and two snacks to a maximum of 400 calories each, and you'll easily make it to the end of the day without exceeding the 2,000-calorie mark.
Breakfast: Huevos Rancheros. For a satisfying, hot breakfast, you can't really go wrong with eggs and cheese. The green chilis and hint of spice give this dish an extra kick to get your morning going. Wash it down with a glass of skim milk; studies have shown that drinking milk in the morning prevents overeating later in the day, in part due to the fact that the protein in milk is more satisfying that the carbohydrates in fruit juices.
Mid-Morning Snack: Crunchy Coffee Fix. Snack time can be the first battle lost, but rather than reach for sugary, calorie-laden snack bars or sodas, which will just lead to a sugar crash, try this smoothie, along with coffee (for an extra jolt), energizing bananas, and almonds to fill you up.
Lunch: Angel Hair Pasta with Carrots and Basil. Sometimes the simplest ingredients can be supremely satisfying. Substitute vegetable stock for chicken, if you're aiming for a Meatless Monday 2000, and opt for whole-wheat angel hair pasta instead of the refined stuff to make a healthy, filling lunch. Pair that with some tangy Mustard Greens with Dill and Lemon for a filling side dish. Both can be made the night before and enjoyed cold or reheated at the office.
Calories (combined): 423
Mid-Afternoon Snack: Spicy Roasted Chickpeas. When the Rodale.com editors went GMO free for the month of October, it became obvious that healthy, GMO-free snacks are hard to find in the packaged-food aisles. Fortunately, one commenter came to the rescue and suggested roasted chickpeas, a crunchy, low-calorie snack you can make over the weekend and enjoy all week long.
Dinner: Salmon with White Beans and Watercress. In addition to the healthy fats you get from the salmon, the fiber in this recipe's white beans will fill you up and keep you satisfied so you can avoid late-night snacking.
Pair your salmon with an easy-to-make side of Green Beans with Shallots, which would even be a tasty, low-sodium alternative to that traditional green bean casserole served at Thanksgiving dinner.
Calories (combined): 409
Check Rodale.com every Monday for a new healthy habit to start out your week. The Healthy Monday Campaign is a nonprofit collaboration between Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.