Does this sound familiar? You plan on a Meatless Monday. You’ve decided that today, you’ll eat well. That means high fiber, low sugar, low carbs, and plenty of veggies. You get off to a great start with a healthy breakfast. Unfortunately, everything goes downhill from there.
Your “healthy” breakfast leaves you hungry by mid-morning. Even though you power through the cravings, by lunchtime, you’re starving. The healthy salad you brought has wilted and simply doesn’t cut it. You find yourself dreaming of unhealthy snacks all afternoon. It’s a hectic day, and by the time you return home, having fought through the evening traffic, you’re ravenous, stressed, and exhausted.
You don’t have anything prepared, and frankly, you’re too tired to bother. So out come the takeout menus, and you order everything you’ve been craving all day, full of regret and defeat. You round off the day with an armful of snacks.
Days like these are all too common. Try as we might, we find ourselves feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and hungry. Surely there must be a better way. Is eating a healthy diet really so difficult?
One crucial error that many people make is a straightforward lack of planning. Let’s talk about how meal plans can help you destress, as well as fuel your body for your hectic schedule.
Meal Planning Means Self-Care
Just about everyone falls victim to emotional eating sometimes. Cravings can be difficult to deal with, especially if you’ve recently made big changes to your diet. The idea of sitting down and planning out a week’s meals may not seem particularly fun. However, here’s a fact: meal planning is self-care.
Why should you consider meal planning? Here are a few benefits:
- It saves time.
If your meals are planned ahead of time, you don’t need to spend ages at the grocery store wondering what to buy. You know what you’re going to cook, so you know what you need to buy. It also means you can get everything you need for the whole week all at once.
You can also prep for several meals at once. If you know you’re going to use cucumber twice in a row, you can prepare the whole vegetable instead of leaving half for tomorrow.
- It keeps you motivated.
Sticking to a new eating plan is hard. However, if you’ve got the week’s meals all ready to go, you’re more likely to stand up to cravings. Knowing that you’ve got a delicious meal prepped at home could make the difference between stopping for takeout on the way home and eating what you’ve planned.
- Meal plans aid healthy eating.
It seems obvious, but sitting down to plan a week’s meals is the best way to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. You can plan to make sure you’re eating your five fruits and veggies a day, with properly balanced meals every day. You can also plan for treat meals and cheat days. Knowing that you’re eating well six days out of seven can let you enjoy your treats on your day off!
You can also balance portion control and reduce your chances of binge eating. We all know that choosing food when you’re hungry is a bad idea. If you sit down to plan a week’s meals when you’re comfortable and not hungry, you’ll make much better choices than if you raid the fridge on an empty stomach.
- It saves money and reduces waste.
Buying exactly what you need for a week’s planned meals is the best way to save money. You’re buying the correct ingredients, in the right amount.
How to Create a Good Meal Plan
We’ve discussed the benefits of a meal plan, but how can you get started?
The key here is to stick to a schedule. You don’t have to overhaul your entire eating schedule - start small. Small actions can ripple and create big waves, for good or bad. A meal plan can be flexible, and it certainly doesn’t need to be a scary idea.
Remember, a meal plan is your schedule, set to work for you. Experiment and find out what suits you the best - then stick to it. Forming a new habit can take anywhere from 18 days to an average of 66 days. That means that within two and a half months, your meal planning could become second nature.
The first thing to do is to set aside time to plan a week’s meals. While you don’t have to plan for a whole week, it’s usually easier to do it this way. For example, you could set aside some time on a Sunday to plan. Create a list of the ingredients you’ll need to cook each meal. Go shopping on the same day.
Since most people have free time on a weekend, this is a good time to plan the next week’s meals. Setting aside a specific window of time can help you to avoid procrastinating. It’s easy to put off your planning over the whole weekend, then it’s suddenly Monday morning and you haven’t even thought about your meals for the week. If you have relapses, don’t beat yourself up about it. Try and figure out why you relapsed, then focus on the future.
Don’t think about meal planning as something you’ll deal with in the future. Seriously ask yourself when you’re going to commit to planning your next few days of meals.
When You Need a Helping Hand
Meal prepping can be a little intimidating, especially if you don’t particularly enjoy cooking. If that’s the case, you could consider meal deliveries. Drive to your food programmes can be just the push you need to get started on your new eating plan.
Meal delivery services offer pre prepared, nutritious meals. If you’re looking for healthy yet easy food, this is absolutely something you should consider. They offer variety and new foods, and you can choose a meal plan that suits you best.
Regardless of whether you choose to plan your meals yourself or invest in a meal delivery service, stick to your plan. Keep your goals in mind.