I truly believe the secret to any goals is planning and preparation. Lack of a plan is why most people don’t stick to lifestyle changes. It’s not enough to simply say “I’m going to eat healthier” or “I’m going to get organized this year”. You have to actually plan steps to take towards these goals, prepare to take the steps, and then execute. The same is true about meal planning.
Why Having a Meal Plan Is Important
Think about anytime you’ve tried to make a change to your diet. Were you able to just wing it? Probably not, but even if you’re not trying to make a change, having a meal plan makes EVERYTHING easier. Think about going through your week without a plan. You have no idea what you’re going to eat at each meal. You’re hungry between meals wondering what to eat. Maybe it even stresses you out.
Did you know that the more decisions we have to make, the harder it is to make decisions? While making decisions can motivate us, our brains do get overwhelmed and fatigued when trying to make more decisions than necessary, so by already having a plan in place for your meals, that’s at least 3 less decisions you have to make in the middle of a productive day. I’m sure some of you have heard about this- it’s why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit everyday. Mark Zuckerberg does too in case you didn’t notice- one less thing to think about in his busy day full of decision making. I can’t commit to the same outfit everyday, but I have been trying to streamline my wardrobe with that in mind, and the same thing applies to my meal planning method.
How is Meal Planning Different from Dieting?
A meal plan is simply that. Just a plan that you make to make your week easier. Try not to look at it as “I have to lose weight so I’m going to plan my meals”. You’ll stop as soon as that is no longer as motivating as it once was.
Everyone should be meal planning simply so that you know where your next meal is coming from. How many of you are sick of coming home from work, getting hungry around 6pm and going “ughhhh what am I going to have for dinner??” and then before you know it it’s 8pm and the pizza guy is at the door.
Believe it or not, this actually causes stress! Instead of spending your evening unwinding from the day or doing something else productive, you spent it trying to figure out what you wanted to eat or what you could eat. And if you’re trying to make healthy choices then you’ll end up feeling guilty on top of it.
Similarly, when you wake up in the morning and you’re hungry, and you end up skipping breakfast because you didn’t know what to eat or you didn’t have time to think about it, how does your morning go? Your thoughts before lunchtime probably go something like this: “I have to send this email…. food….. I have to type this report… food… When is lunch…. Food…Was that my stomach?… Shoot I never sent that email…. Is it almost lunchtime?… food…food..food!”. Basically, you get very little done until after lunch.
What Meal Planning Is Not
So repeat after me… “Meal planning is NOT a diet. It just makes my life easier”. Will it help you reach your goals? Of course. Because when you plan, you can plan for the nourishing food you know your body needs, and you can adjust the plan to fit your current needs. When your needs change, you don’t need to stop meal planning. You simply adjust your meal plan to fit the new needs. (Did we just end our dieting cycle??)
How to Get Started
Meal planning can be overwhelming when you first start. Don’t try to come up with 7 different breakfasts, 7 different lunches, 7 different dinners, and 14 snacks. I don’t care how much you like to cook or how good you are at it. This will not stick. Start with just 2 dinner options and 1 or 2 breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Easy options. At least 1 of those for each meal/snack should be non-cook. Last but not least… prep, prep, prep! You don’t need to spend all day in the kitchen prepping, but please just prep some of it. Make it ready to be thrown together- wash and chop produce, make your tuna salad, boil some eggs. Don’t spend all day in the kitchen doing it though. Remember, the idea is to make your life easier.
Need More Help?
Some of you already know that I am now offering a meal planning service. For those of you who feel too busy to do this yourself or maybe you can’t think of any new ideas and you’re bored of your own, or maybe you just don’t feel like doing it yourself.. I can help! Each meal plan is completely individualized to your needs and your goals, so that’s another thing you don’t have to think about. I also offer a free publication, the Busy Woman’s Guide to Meal Planning Like A Pro.
If a lot of this resonated with you, and you want to learn more about ending the diet cycle, I can help with this as well! If you have insurance, a good portion of my program and services may be paid for. Click below to learn more!