What I Love About Meal Planning!
A month or so ago, I had really lost my interest in cooking and even eating. Nothing appealed to me, I dreaded heading to the kitchen, and I'd open the fridge/cupboard and stare, not having a clue what to prepare. I was eating because I had to, and for the most part, was eating good, whole foods, but I started to drift back into some old habits. I suspected that I wasn't eating enough protein, was probably eating too many starchy carbs and was not getting as many greens and veggies as I should. And to top it off, some pounds started creeping on, even though I felt I wasn't overeating and was sticking to my fairly ambitious exercise routine.
So I asked myself "what would you tell a client if they came to you with these same concerns?" The answer wasn't more exercise, that's for sure, and I had been sleeping well and drinking adequate water. So I decided to make myself a meal plan and follow that for at least a month. I calculated my required calories, figured out my macros, and created my plan, which I changed up each week.
After 4 weeks........what have I learned? Did it work?
Right off the bat, let me tell you that I HATE weighing my food and tracking calories! Trust me, I have tried several apps, methods and systems, and I just hate it, so creating a meal plan with all of that figured out beforehand was gold for me! Just eat what's in the plan, and there is no weighing, tracking or counting.
I found out that I was, as suspected, NOT eating enough protein. The additional protein in the meal plan resulted in me feeling more full and satisfied after each meal, and that fullness lasted longer. In fact, there were some days when I found it difficult to eat all of the food and did not experience any cravings. Further evidence that when you eat whole, nutritious food, in the right proportions, for the right reasons (translation: no emotional eating), your body will get what it needs.
I ended up trying some new recipes, many of which I really enjoyed and will add into my regular rotation, especially the smoothies! Granted, every dish wasn't a home run, but there were very few times that I actually "disliked" anything. Once I had tried some of the dishes, and I made sure they were on the schedule for the week, I would find myself really looking forward to that meal/snack. My enjoyment of food had returned!
I appreciated the structure - knowing what is on the menu tomorrow really helped me stay organized. I just ensured the appropriate ingredients were thawed if necessary, and I didn't have to waste any time trying to figure out what to make. All of the dishes were fairly simple to prepare and most of them were ready in 30 minutes or less.
And, thankfully, those extra pounds did come off, after about 3 weeks. At no point over the course of the month did I feel overly hungry or deprived.
As an unexpected bonus, I have found my grocery bills to be a bit less each week as well. I guess because you only buy what you need for the week (the software generates a list), so nothing goes to waste or becomes long-term inventory in your cupboard.
Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss meal planning. The software I use can filter out ingredients based on allergies or preferences, you can have your own breakdown of meals and snacks, the recipes are all scalable based on how many you are feeding, you can tailor the dishes to address your specific health issues or concerns........it is super flexible! My 4 week experiment was a success for me, so I'm going to keep it going.