The new year is a time for starting fresh and establishing new, healthy eating habits. The best way to make that happen is by putting together a comprehensive and easy-to-stick-to meal plan.
Start with what you know
If you try to totally revamp everything you eat from top to bottom, you’ll wind up overwhelmed and quickly burn yourself out. Though there may be things about your current diet that aren’t working, surely some things are. Start by sorting through what you eat now, then pick out those meals that are good for you and include them in your meal plan. You may have to reduce your portion sizes or add in a few extra vegetables, but it’s still a good jumping-off point.
Break it down and organize
The best way to make sure your meal plan doesn’t last you just a few days is to find a planning regimen that works for you. For instance, if you work Monday to Friday and have the weekend off, put your meal plan together on Saturday, and then do any pre-week prep on Sunday. This will ensure you always know what’s coming up and can have everything ready when you need it. And that way you won’t have any excuses to stray off the plan.
Find a balance
To make sure your meal plan is something you can stick with, find a balance between meals you know will be easy and those you think will be fun to try out. It’s important to have foods that are quick to throw together but also to have ones that add flavour and spontaneity to your diet.
Include a “cheat meal”
You’ve likely heard of the concept of a “cheat day” when it comes to eating well. Though it’s important to give yourself a break every once in a while, for some people a whole day off can be too much and lead to their undoing all the hard work accomplished during the week. So to treat yourself without consequences, give yourself one meal a week with which you can cheat. Try to time it for a night when you go out or when there’s an upcoming function, so you can really enjoy yourself when it counts.
Use your resources
Between the bookstore and the internet, you have all kinds of ways to find out more about what you’re eating and to ensure your meal plan is working to its full potential. Websites such as FitDay offer free tracking of your meals and workout routines so you can stay on top of how you’re doing. You can also find plenty of sample meal plans, such as these offered by MyFoodDiary, so you can have an idea of where to start. Knowing what nutrients you get from different foods is crucial to making a meal plan work for you, so be sure to use your resources to educate yourself.
Be open to change
Keep in mind that everyone is unique, and that means what might work for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. So if after a few weeks you don’t notice any changes, don’t give up on meal planning altogether. Instead, switch up a few things to get a sense of what might be standing in your way. By staying open to new options, you can adapt and ensure your meal plan gets you the results you want all year long.