What’s the first thing you think of when you hear someone talking about meal prep? Maybe it’s that friend of yours on Facebook who is constantly posting about how they meal prepped for the week. Or maybe it’s those hundreds of meal prep pins on Pinterest you swore you were going to start doing “next week.”
For me, preparing meals was something I thought was only for those who were about to take the stage in a bodybuilding competition. Until I tried it myself. Today, I consider meal prep a way to save time and money, as well as a foolproof way to fuel my body with healthy food all week long. It takes a load off my busy schedule during the week when I’m rushing off to work, whereas before I would stare into the fridge not knowing what to pack to ensure I was equipped with adequate nutrition for the whole day. Now I don’t stress; I just grab it and go.
After the first week of meal planning in my routine, I couldn’t help but ask myself why I hadn’t done this sooner! If you don’t already include meal prep in your life, it’s time to overcome any hesitation because this can benefit everyone! Below are some tips and tricks on how to get started:
- As Nike says, just do it!
While I was hesitant about meal prep, part of the reason I didn’t start for so long was out of pure laziness. I had an excuse of why not this week or how I needed to do more research to be fully prepared. Blah, blah, blah. Put aside the excuses and just do it.
This is something you don’t need to do but I think it helps to have specific containers you put each individual meal and snack in. This saves time during the week so you do not have to portion out servings each day.
The biggest excuse I hear from people not meal prepping is that they don’t like to eat the same thing every day. Meal prep doesn’t mean you must eat the same thing for every meal during the week. I personally do this for breakfast and lunch, but I mix up my snacks and dinners for overall variety. One way you can avoid the monotony is to do four days of the same meal and three days of a different meal. Or, just make sure you are preparing enough meals to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner for your week, then store it in the fridge or freezer, choosing what you want from that batch each day.
Meal prep can initially be time-consuming, so ensure you know what day and time you are planning to go shopping and prep it all. If I don’t schedule it, I know I will put it off and it won’t end up happening. Sunday late afternoon is my go-to day and time to grocery shop and meal prep for the week. It starts the workweek off on a good note! Everyone’s schedule is different though. Do what works best for you.
Prepping every single meal for the week in one sitting can be a little overwhelming at first. Start with prepping only your breakfast for the entire week or only your lunch. After you start to get the hang of it and in a routine, add another meal or snack to the prep. Soon meal prepping will become a habit!
Meal prepping your meals for the entire week can help save you time and money, plus keep you fueled with healthy food all week long! It’s time to put aside the excuses and hesitation and give meal prep a try.
Staying healthy is more than just exercise — you have to be wary of your diet, too. Though being active is an important component of maintaining a strong and healthy body, what embodies the whole of a person’s overall wellness is multifaceted.
While nothing gets us geared up like a hardcore, sweat-inducing HIIT session, we know paying close attention to diet is a MAJOR factor in a comprehensive healthy lifestyle. This doesn’t mean limiting or punishing oneself to get results. It just means making the right choices when eating – much of it is a lesson in moderation.
Skipping Meals: Skipping meals won’t help you lose weight. What it does is cause you to binge at your next meal because you’re ravenous. Instead of skipping meals, listen to your body and eat when you truly feel hungry. The body is our most important tool and by listening to it, you will better know what it needs.
Setting Satiety Points: Tied to this idea of eating when you physically feel your stomach is empty is eating to something called your satiety point. If you feel uncomfortably full, you went beyond your satiety point. Use that opportunity to think about how much you ate versus how much your body needed. To avoid overeating, slow down. Your body relies on signals that tell the brain that the stomach is full and stretched. It takes about a good 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full.
Manage these signals better by allowing yourself more time to enjoy the food you put in your mouth and perhaps to eat those smaller meals more frequently.
When you were a kid, were you expected to “finish your plate”? Many of us have been trained over decades to clear our plates, which established the habit of ignoring our sense of fullness. Adjusting your brain to stop at a point where you feel satisfied can reset your habits long-term, something truly important if you aim to lose weight.
Meal Prep: An effective way to pay attention to portion control is to read labels. Nutrition facts will list serving sizes, so if you pack a lunch, fitting containers to portions is an easy way to keep you from eating more than necessary and packing just enough.
Eating Out: One of the biggest challenges when it comes to portion control is knowing how much to eat when you’re at a restaurant. Many restaurants serve portions that are much bigger than what’s needed for an average meal. We suggest asking for a to-go box when your meal comes out and immediately putting a portion in the box. Out of sight is truly out of mind.
Avoid Crash Diets: There is always another popular diet popping up. Some are legitimate indeed, and those which are grounded in science are likely going to offer a well-balanced plan. On the other hand, typical fad diets will often promise instant weight loss without evidence or scientific support. Ultimately having a comprehensive understanding about your specific body’s relationship with food provides a healthier map for overall wellness.
3,500 Calories = 1 Pound: It takes about a 500 daily calorie deficit in order to lose one pound per week. For example, a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola is 140 calories. Decide to drink water instead of soda and you knock down calories in no time. If you particularly have a sweet tooth, replace candy and sugary processed foods with a handful of berries or other fruits and you’re making a healthier yet still satisfying trade. Tuning into the little things adds up.
The overall lesson in eating is to eat real food, not artificial, processed or out-of-the vending machine foods. Some additional key takeaways:
- Fuel your fitness by stocking your gym bag with healthy snacks which include good sources of carbohydrates and protein for an energizing pre-workout snack.
- Schedule meals with other people, so you’re talking and eating. Read the news or just take a break every few bites. You’ll feel more satisfied and more comfortable if you slow it down.
- Mindful eating will help you establish your satiety point, training your brain to push your plate away at the right time. This will in turn help you with eating only when you really feel a hunger pang.