One of the golden rules for keeping your weight under control and being healthier is to never leave the house in the morning without having a plan for lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.
If you’re on a diet you probably don’t have to worry about this because you’re likely to be provided with a daily nutrition plan. If you’re not (or you just finished one) you better start thinking ahead and learn to keep in check what you’re going to eat throughout the day.
Over time I discovered that planning meals is really a necessary component in being healthier.
Why? Because there’s nothing worst than spontaneous eating: 9 times out of 10 you’ll make poorer food choices. As it’s always easier to head to a fast food joint or to order-in rather than to create a nutritious and healthy meal at home.
Menu planning doesn't have be complicated: it just requires a small investment of time and some thinking.
Think about foods you like to eat
Don’t forget that disorganization is your worst enemy: if you start thinking “What’s for dinner?” or “I’m starving, let’s see what we have in the kitchen” you’re going to fail miserably.
An organized meal plan is not rocket science, it just means to plan ahead, buy the right stuff at the grocery store, cook some good dish that can last a couple of days and always store some healthy food in the fridge.
Think about what you like to eat. And make a list of the foods that make you feel full, good, happy, and, of course, that are also healthy.
Balance your diet
Plan all your meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) on paper and stick to it.
As you are planning the meals for the day, make sure you keep it balanced not only from a calorie perspective but also on the macros side: carbs, protein and fats.
There are tons of apps and/or websites you can use to help you out to do this.
Veggies and fruits should be at the core of your diet.
Remember that the intake of carbs and sugars should decrease throughout the day. This means that breakfast is the right time to bulk carbs for energy. Always go for whole carbs when choosing your cereals, toast, waffles, bagel, or other breakfast grains.
Breakfast also needs to include some calcium (fat-free yogurt is a great choice).
Let’s not forget that protein intake is also crucial. Sometime in our hectic life is easier to munch on carbs based meals (pizza, sandwich anyone?) rather than protein ones. Look for soya or quinoa based meals or add some egg whites, grilled chicken or fish in your salad (along with your favorite vitamin-rich veggies).
The dinner should be a lighter meal since you will be going to bed and not able to use up all of the calories. A protein choice, and a salad will do; a soup is also an healthy alternative.
These are just few ideas, just use some imagination!
Differentiate between one day and the other
Look over your plan for one day and make yourself another day or two of plans and make sure that you alternate foods between them so you can avoid food boredom.
Variations will save you from the “always the same stuff” trap. Get creative and avoid doing like I do: eating every night oven-roasted turkey and broccoli...you’ll get sick of it pretty soon!
A friend of mine plans every meal in detail using an online calendar. Personally, I don’t go that far but I do have a clear idea in my mind of what my meals everyday will be. At the beginning it does require some efforts but overtime you’ll get accustomed to it and the process will become almost automatic.
You’ll soon be able to build a perfect meal plan in a heartbeat!
The Iron You