Applying Strategy to Your Nutrition
Believe it or not, I am also guilty of making poor eating choices if I don't plan ahead. We live in a world where it is far easier to do the wrong thing than to do the healthy thing, and this is now true in almost every facet of life. When it comes to eating, it is extraordinarily simple to order take-out, go to a restaurant, give up on cooking and just graze on snacks, or make easy/processed meals out of pasta, rice or heavy quantities of meat. This is the easier thing to do, but it is wreaks havoc on your health over time by causing imbalances and deficiencies in your micro-nutrient intake and worsen your cravings for unhealthy foods.
I can say firsthand that setting aside time each week to think about the coming week's food plan is essential both in maintaining one's health, and in improving one's health. When I neglect to meal-plan, I get totally thrown off. I'm more likely to skip meals and then graze on something less healthy later on. I'm more likely to miss the most important foods during the day like cooked and raw greens, and I will over-eat other foods like dried fruit, nut butters and, yes, even eat slices of gluten-free bread if my husband stashed a loaf in the freezer.
Set aside time to meal-plan? What is there to think about?
I recommend you use 1-2 hours per week to develop your strategy for the following week. What dishes will you make to include as much micro-nutrition as possible? How much can you make to ensure you don't have to cook every day? Which ingredients do you need to buy versus what you already have available? Are there ingredients you should order in bulk to reduce shopping trips and cost?
Consistent meal planning is a habit that you choose to prioritize building, or you choose not to. If you decide that meal-planning is not for you, I guarantee you will face increasing challenges when it comes to maintaining your health or reaching new health goals. No judgment here; my husband isn't much of a planner, and that's OK. You can still accomplish healthy eating, it just tends to (in my opinion), run the risk of getting a bit boring. But if you prefer not to spend much time planning, then coming up with a "formula" like: 2 cups vegetable 50% green, 1 serving plant or animal protein, 1 fruit, 1 serving healthy fat - per meal, you will be able to hit health goals without digging around for recipes. This was just an example formula, but you can see how this type of formula-based meal plan can be fairly easy once you get the hang of it.
For myself, I find food to be more interesting if there is more experimentation and variation. However, I fully admit that I am no chef and prefer one-pot dishes practically without exception, and I almost never stick to an actual recipe. I'm also stricter about micro-nutrition than my husband, so I tend to do the weekday cooking and he tends to do more of the weekend cooking. I spend 1-2 hours per week - usually on a Friday - planning out the following week. Planning the meals allows me to formulate a grocery list and decide which meals I will need to make which day, and I post the list to the refrigerator door to remind myself.
What my patients really seem to want to know is how put the pieces together once I rile up their minds with my over-the-top nutrition re-balancing recommendations. Anyone who has done my HeadStart program knows exactly what I'm talking about! Well, my original plan for this post was to create a colorful, comprehensive, magnanimous breakdown of exactly how to do everything. But, alas, it's been months now and the blog post was never made because once taking pictures is involved in a task, I tend to procrastinate it (ugh, technology!). Rather, I will not to let the pursuit of perfection delay the publication of the good, but instead thought I'd make a brief video instead of how I happen to do things. This is a super-quick look into how I plan my meals for the week: