Maintaining great eating habits can often be a challenge, even for veteran meal planners like trainers. There are so many diets currently trending that it’s hard to know where or how to start a new healthy diet, let alone which one to stick to. The best advice I can give is to not over-complicate the process of choosing what foods to eat.
The most important part of any diet or habitual eating change is preparing your food beforehand, preparing yourself mentally for these diet changes, and knowing where your problem areas are. Without having some sort of solid motivation or inspiration for your diet changes, you won’t get far and fall back into old habits. Having motivation will help remind you of your nutritional goals.
When we begin to prepare our meals, this is where we tend to overanalyze things. If you take the correct steps while preparing you will be much more likely to succeed. To start, you must identify your problem areas.
Ask yourself these few questions as you meal prep:
When are you making poor food choices? Is it breakfast? Lunch? Late-night snacking? It may be one or all these times, but it’s important to know because that is what you need to prepare for.
Write down 6-8 healthy options for each of those problem times. These days there is a healthier option for almost every type of food out there. Depending on your goals, this list may need to be narrowed down even further and followed more strictly. For fine-tuning, I recommended speaking to a professional dietician or nutritionist. Even your regular physician can help tell you what is good or bad for you to eat, so before you make a major change to your diet, also consult with them.
Choose two to three days a week where the preparation happens. You will be preparing multiple meals for multiple days so cook way more than you need. It is also important to purchase good quality containers to store your food in that can be heated up and reused. Look for a good balance of food in your individually prepared meals. Your chosen diet will depict what your actual macro-nutrient breakdown will be. For example, if you follow a Paleo diet, there are plenty of great recipes available.
You did the hard part. Now make sure you finish the job. Poor eating decisions usually happen when someone hasn’t eaten enough food. If you‘ve prepared correctly, you will have enough food and most likely will make better decisions. For example, if your meal prepped for the week and has your lunch already packed, you are less likely to go out to eat with co-workers and leave the food you worked hard to prep go to waste.
Balance is always key to a healthy lifestyle: It has both mental and physical benefits like relieving stress and back pain. If you ramp up the energy you are expending through exercise you may need to increase up the calories you are consuming as well. You will find that when eating a clean diet and exercising more that you feel hungry more often. That’s good! Your body is burning energy and using all of what you are giving it. Keep it up!
With nutritional changes is best to come in with a plan. The obstacles will always be there to block you from that overall goal. But with a plan and a powerful motivation you can make your goals happen!