If your answer was “no” or “sometimes”, then the following helps explain why you may need to make it a more regular part of your routine.
Like any meal plan it needs to be individualized to you for it to work. Which is often a big reason why “diets” are not practical or sustainable in the long term. Meal planning may look a little different for every individual or family, and does not mean that all food needs to be prepped and stored in color coded containers or that you have a massive cooking session to prepare all your food for an entire week. As much as meal planning is about, “planning”, it is also about learning how to adjust and take things as they come making decisions about what you eat so in the future you know how to navigate those situations.
Studies have shown that when we meal plan even occasionally we are more likely to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. When we do plan our meals ahead the following occurs:
The first thing that happens when you meal plan is you take away the guess work by eliminating the “what am I going to have for dinner?” question. This is often what keeps us from making our own meals, as well as overeating when they walk through the door at dinnertime and are absolutely ravenous.
Second, when you plan ahead and plan meals that suit you and the time that you have to prepare them the excuse of not having enough time and picking up take out or ordering in being the quicker or easier option is no longer a valid excuse. By choosing recipes that take 20 minutes or less to make or prepping your ingredients in advance, eating at home is the easier and healthier option.
Lastly when you plan your meals in advance you are prepared and have all the necessary ingredients so there really is no excuse that you can’t make that healthy meal you had planned for.
The act of meal planning itself is more than just writing down what you are going to have. It is taking time to think about your schedule and being realistic for that day or week and what you have time for. It is also an opportunity to plan how to cover your bases with nutrition to ensure you stay satisfied and eat healthy.
This is a skill! It takes time and practice and as you develop it you will feel like you are equipped to better deal with life as it happens and know how to select a healthy option from a restaurant that still meets your nutrition goals at the end of the day.
So take the time and plan those meals and what you have ahead of you for the week to make at least one piece of your life a little easier.
Happy Planning Everyone!
Becky Doherty, BSc., Registered Kinesiologist