Testing the Harvard 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating: Keep it going

Our guest bloggers, Helen Hoart and Tonya Phillips, have finished the final week of the Harvard 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating. Both feel like they are now on track for a lifetime of delicious, nutritious food choices. Here they describe their final week following the 6-Week Plan the goals they have set for maintaining the good eating habits they’ve acquired.

Helen Hoart

Although I’ve come to the end of my six-week blogging adventure, my healthy eating journey has only just begun. When I began following the 6-Week Plan, I listed three things I wanted to accomplish. I tried to make these goals specific and behavior-driven. Here are my goals and how I did with them:

Goal 1: Add three servings of fruit a day to my diet.

Result: Did well most days especially when I incorporated the fruit into my meals—an apple sliced into my salad, a banana on my oatmeal.

Goal 2: Go to two strength training classes a week (in addition to my regular aerobic workouts).

Result: Every week I managed one strength training class and some weeks I attended two. I just have to keep working on this one and find a class that works with my schedule.

Goal 3: Eat more slowly and mindfully.

Result: This was the hardest thing for me to do and it is still a work in progress. I have started eating more slowly. And I do a better job of eating mindfully when my food has intense flavors—they make me stop and think how wonderful the taste is!

I have also set some goals for my ongoing quest for healthy eating:

  • Continue to plan menus. I will use menus as a basis for grocery shopping. I did that over the long holiday weekend when I had a houseful of guests. I laid out the menu for all three days and then shopped. It worked like a charm. We had healthy and delicious meals every day. I didn’t run out of anything and by planning the menus ahead of time, I ended up feeling less stressed and had more time to enjoy my guests.
  • Limit snacking. My goal will be to limit my snacks to two 150-calorie snacks a day. I’ll probably continue to have snacks from the list on page 35 of the Healthy Eating Plan. My favorites are nonfat plain yogurt with berries, and vegetable sticks with ½ cup of hummus.
  • Continue to eat mindfully. This means nibbling while I prepare dinner and swoop-by handfuls of Peanut M&Ms are a thing of the past. Instead, when I eat it will be because I’m hungry and I’ll try to savor every mouthful.

Finally, when I lapse into old behaviors, I won’t beat myself up. Instead I’ll try to figure out ways to avoid the temptation in the future.

Tonya Phillips

Over the past few weeks I have been able to change my eating habits one meal at a time. Keeping the 3-day food diary in the beginning was a big help. The week-by-week approach made the 6-Week Plan easy to follow and not feel overwhelming. There were so many healthy food shopping ideas on page 14; I was able to find something tasty in every category. Throughout the plan I discovered many small changes that make a big difference, such as rinsing canned beans to reduce sodium and substituting ground turkey or chicken for ground beef.

Here are the goals I set for myself in the first week:

  • Lose 5 pounds
  • Drink 4 to 6 cups of water a day
  • Increase my vegetable and fruit intake
  • Eat a healthy breakfast most days
  • Have 2 servings of fish (not fried) each week.

I did lose some weight. Right before I started the 6-Week Plan, I bought a pair of pants. They were a little snug in the waist, but I really like how they fit everywhere else so I decided to keep them. This past weekend I tried on the pants and they fit perfectly.

I haven’t reached my goal of six cups of water a day but I am averaging around four cups on most days. Increasing my vegetable and fruit intake continues to be a challenge. Most of the fresh fruit and veggies spoil before I have a chance to finish them. I plan to purchase more frozen produce along with fresh so when the fresh spoils I can switch to the frozen.

Keeping the work fridge stocked with yogurt, English muffins, orange juice, and frozen fruit has kept me on track with my breakfast goal. With summer approaching, enjoying salmon or snapper on the grill for dinner will easily allow me to consume fish at least three times a week. I’m still taking the stairs at work and I even bought a bike, which I plan to ride at a nearby bike trail.

I now plan my meals more carefully. I’m eating right most days and allow at least one day a week where I treat myself to something that may not be as healthy. The 6-Week Plan has helped me lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Tonya Phillips (left) is the Product Marketing Manager at StayWell Consumer Health Publishing. Helen Hoart (right) is President of StayWell Consumer Health Publishing. StayWell is the publishing management agent for Harvard Health Publishing.

Join the fun and learn to eat healthfully with the Harvard Medical School Six-Week Plan for Healthy Eating.


  1. Lewis J

    What I love about the 6 Week Plan is the fact that it is not simply a list a recipes for people to make for each particular day. It is more a set of rules so people can cook what they want provided that they follow the rules.

    I do think the most important rule out of all of them is certainly the Eat 3 More Pieces of Fruit and Vegetables a day. This is something that SO many people are missing out on, and I personally think it is at the root of the obesity issue that we suffer with nowadays.

    Lewis J
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  2. naya

    Eating slowly is the hardest part to eat well. I don’t know how to describe, but by chewing them slowly and put them longer in my mouth make them taste weird. But I do amazed on how the tastes changed. I take rice as my carb resource, and by chewing slowly and longer deliver me a sweet and soft taste in my tounge.

  3. J. Duncan McNeill

    As the author of a weight loss plan based on good nutrition and nothing else, I applaud what these people are doing. Well done! I do hope you manage to keep the good eating habits up for the rest of your life, that is just so important.
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  4. Martin Claxton

    Great Post

  5. Clean Eating

    Here is a great clean eating recipe:

    Protein Pancakes:
    1 scoop of protein
    3 egg whites / 1 whole egg
    1/2 cup oatmeal
    splash of vanilla extract
    touch of cinnamon
    stir and pour

  6. Dr. John Begovich

    I encourage my patients to eat 4-5 small meals throughout the day and each with a small amount of protein and a complex carbohydrate. That coupled with some exercise will keep the metabolism up and allow weight loss ASAP.

  7. Clean Eating

    I cant agree with you more about keeping your fridge and shelves stocked with the right food. Make sure you plan your meals on weekly basis. No surprises have helped me achieve my goals.

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