Should you plan your meals?
My clients often ask me what do I usually eat or what do I have for lunch or dinner?
It’s a really tricky question, because I don't have a usual lunch, dinner or even breakfast dish. I do have few favourties and go-to meals that don’t take much prep time and are well balanced, so no thinking required, but the same dish can be my breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Often I don’t really know what am I going to eat. Every day is different. I don't plan specific meals. But I do plan my shopping, do some preps and I know what type of foods I want and should go into my meals. Then, when it's time to eat, it takes only few minutes to put together a meal that is balanced, tasty and support my health and fitness aspirations.
Do we need to plan meals? Do meal plans work? It’s like with everything. It depends. I’m definitely not a fan of those 2 or 4 or more special meal plans you find in most of diet books or internet. They all assume that the plan will work for everyone. We are expected to eat certain foods at certain times overriding and ignoring our natural hunger and fullness body cues. They make us spend a lot of money on fancy foods or even worse, on food manufactured in the factory.
Having said that, if you're trying to lose or gain weight or have a specific health or fitness goal, then definitely some planning is helpful. If you’re someone who just want to keep healthy and maintain a healthy weight, have cooking experience or making healthier food choices on a regular basis is your second nature, you know your produce and how does it works for you, then most likely you don’t find the need to plan your meals ahead, unless you’re throwing a fancy party for 50 people (good planning would help).
But for most of us who struggle with being consistent when it comes to those well balanced and waist line supporting meals, or those who have a specific fitness goal, planning can be a great tool to help us to keep track of what and how much we are eating.
If you don’t have much experience in the kitchen, start with baby steps. Find one dish that you really enjoy, think what kind of a healthy twist you could put on it, if needed. Make a shopping list and then practice preparing you food often until you’ll know it by heart, or you’ll find it easy to modify it, or until you get bored ;) Once you’ve mastered one perfect meal, find another one and repeat the process. After a while you’ll have a roster of healthy meals that feel effortless and support your health and fitness.
Cooking in bulks on the weekend is another way to ensure that making healthier food choices during the week is much easier. Keep it simple. One serving of protein, one or two servings of carbs, 2 or more servings of veg and one or two servings of healthy fats (the portion size will depend on your body type, total activity and fitness or health goal etc.). That’s it.
The more you practise the more experienced you become and the meal planning just blends into daily routines. With that experience there comes confidence. The confidence makes you more adventurous. This leads to a full of variety and exciting culinary experiences. Eventually, without even thinking about it, you’re able to transform few wholesome items you stock in your kitchen into a delicious and healthy meal. You eat well. You feel great. You look great.
And then… you just have to do more of what makes feel and look great!