So, you’re inspired to improve your health?! You’ve cleaned up your diet, created your very first meal plan and are feeling brand spanking new. So why is it that a few weeks later, your sugar, pizza, and hot cheeto cravings are back with a vengeance? And, most depressing, you’re feeling defeated, unmotivated and ready to give up on this “new year, new me BS”. Well…I have some good news for you. You don’t suck, your meal plan does! Ill let you in on a little secret, its called sustainable meal planning and its just what you need to turn that frown upside down. I truly want you to be successful on your health and fitness journey so I have created a list of tips for sticking to your homemade customized meal plan.
What is your goal?
Its so much easier to stick with a plan if you have motivation. Maybe your trying to get in better shape, eating more nutrient dense foods or rid yourself of sugar cravings. Perhaps you’re trying to save money on your groceries or spend less time in the kitchen all together. Whatever your reason, having a goal and sticking to it will lessen the desire to make impulsive unhealthy decisions. So what is YOUR goal? Once you have figured it out, write it down in a place where you can see it. According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals.
Make changes at a reasonable rate. You don’t have to go from Miss Taco Bell USA 2017 to a raw vegan overnight! Try a meal plan that’s a little healthier than what you’ve been eating. Perhaps you can eat less processed foods or add a little more fresh fruit and veggies in your routine…it doesn’t have to be perfect – just better. As time goes on and you get use to your new way of eating you might decide to revamp your meal plan again making it slightly healthier than version 1. If your goal is to loose weight, don’t starve yourself! A little hunger is OK. I’ve learned that it won’t kill me to go slightly hungry for a couple hours. However, if you feel like you’re starving, you might be reducing too quickly. As I said before, make changes at a reasonable rate, it’s best to reduce portions a little at a time, get used to that amount, and then reduce a little more.
Create a weekly schedule that will visually organize your upcoming meals. I prefer to use google docs but feel free to use whatever method works best for you. You will want to list every day of the week, along with all of your meals and food groups. I like to keep my meals simple and balanced so my meal planner will contain a few food groups such as protein, Veggies/Fruits and carbohydrates. I have these categories listed on my schedule to remind myself to get all of the vital nutrients in at every meal. Everyone’s meal prep will look a little different. I am vegan, so my meals are based around vegetables and plant based protein.
Keep it simple.
Go easy on yourself when writing out your meal prep plan. Save the culinary wizardry for Food Network! You’re going to want to keep the ingredients simple and allow yourself room to get creative. Eat real, whole foods that you love. If you hate beets and kale but you reluctantly eat them because you think they will magically make you loose weight or get healthier, you will fail. If you have to use 22 ingredients and 10 mixing bowls to make a dish then you will loose motivation quickly! With that being said…don’t be too simple. The biggest downside of meal prep, of course, is eating the exact same meal multiple days in a row. Like I said before, allow yourself room to get creative. Maybe that means you cook all of your veggies without seasoning and add the flavor in right before you eat. For example, you have a curry veggies and rice one day, veggie tacos with cilantro the next day and a garlic-lime veggie quinoa bowl after that… GET CREATIVE!
What to prep?
Think about the meals that you struggle with? Do you hate getting up early to make breakfast? Are you rushed for lunch and typically do takeout? The meals that you struggle with should definitely be the ones you prep. Personally, I struggle with getting in my lunch and snacks, so I prepare those ahead of time so I don’t make impulsive eating decisions. Another thing, if you prefer to eat all of your meals fresh but still want to streamline the cooking process you can “prep your chop”. Chop your veggies ahead of time to make the actual cooking time a little quicker. Dedicating your prep time to the meal(s) you’re least likely to cook during the week will make a huge difference.
When to prep?
Most meal-preppers that I know do all of their prepping on a Sundays. They cook for a few hours and are completely set up for the whole week. Perhaps your schedule doesn’t allow for a Sunday cook off and that’s OK. If you need to split it up into two days (or more) that’s perfectly fine. Since I run an online business, I am always on the clock, Sundays don’t always work for me. I prefer to split my meal preps into two sessions…sometimes three. I might take an hour to cook out meals for two days on Monday night and then do it all over again on Wednesday evening. The trick is to find a schedule you’ll actually stick to, even if it means prepping more than one day per week.
Know what you’re eating.
I’m not asking you to count calories or anything…however, I do want you to be aware of sneaky calories. Most drinks contain a large amount of calories that people aren’t accounting for. Same thing goes for nuts, dried fruit, salad dressings, sauces, and processed foods. Even if you’re just having a little here and there, these calories add up and leave many people wondering why they aren’t reaching their goals! Also, try to shop local and support your neighborhood farmers markets. If you want nutrient dense foods with a low carbon footprint, keep it local. Buy organic and enjoy eating fresh fruits and veggies while also supporting your neighborhood farms and the economy.
Basically, I want you to completely forget about fad diets. We can only follow a no fat, no carb, no sugar, no taste, no anything diet for so long. As I mentioned before, a successful meal plan must be sustainable. So before you create your plan ask yourself, “Can I see myself eating like this in two years from now?” If the answer is no — then the meal plan you’re thinking about starting isn’t sustainable.
Do you meal prep? Share your thoughts, tips and tricks on meal prepping below!
DISCLAIMER: This website offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of health conditions. Please consult your physician or other healthcare professional before beginning or changing any nutrition or fitness program to make sure that it is appropriate for your needs. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.