The importance of meal planning and preparation
Starting off with any kind of diet routine can itself give multiple ifs and buts for an individual,especially when you try to keep things next to perfect, be it a busy work schedule, missing out on buying groceries or any other unimportant reasons, all of these are capable enough to ruin the enthusiasm. While the list could keep going on, one of the most intriguing factors that I feel could be the meal planning and preparation, especially when you are following a quantified nutrition and keeping a close watch on those calories. A slight here and there with your appointments at work place or even an unreasonable deadlock at traffic signal could break the entire rhythm. An hour late to work can imply an hour late in the gym, which could further lead to lesser time to cook food and take rest. This could be highly demotivating if one doesn’t get a tap of things soon. After a certain period of following a proper routine and keeping a track of calories, we all get habituated to this lifestyle (well, the brain has its own memory when you repeat things again and again). However, it could be a real pain for the ones just looking to get a hold of the things at the beginning. So, let’s check a few takeaways that could help in not breaking the momentum of maintaining a healthy diet: - Keeping it simple and easy - Many a times, individuals try bringing in too many options to enhance the food items during the course of dieting period, which may result in way too many complexities; from cooking time to ambiguous idea about the calorific value and then further manipulation with the left window of food. Keeping it simple without thinking much about the taste buds could be a better way, at least when you are trying to fix things. Flexibility works the best when its minimal. - Adding to the above point, choose a few list of food items which could be your staple food, respectively for the macronutrients (protein, fats, carbs) and which also do not require much cooking. Eg: Oats, muesli, bread could be good breakfast/ snacking sources of carbs. - Having the raw materials ready is the utmost important part, hence comes the importance of check list of grocery items. Keep a thorough check of the basic items or have an inventory so that you can avoid last minute rush. - Keeping prerequisites ready- Now, this could be really helpful if you are planning it well. One can plan the days in advance. Eg: Keeping a stock of chopped vegetables ready for the entire week, having seasoned chicken/paneer/fish/meat etc in portions separately, cooking in bulk for the entire day can really save time for that leisure activity with your friends and family. - Keep a list of handy replacements for any odd days when you are really stuck and cannot make it up. Eg: knowing how to replace chicken/fish/meat/paneer with whey, or how to replace rice, wheat flour, etc with bread or any other food source are few of those examples. - Being aware of the nutritional values- It’s high time that we all should start reading the nutritional labels of the food items that we buy, which can help us becoming aware of the intake through it. Now, you don’t want to be that person who would ruin the entire day just out of guilt of not being able to avoid that team lunch.Being aware of macro value could easily help you escape any of those unwanted calories and save the window for day. - Maintaining a food journal - Now, I feel this is one of those ways where you could keep a tap of your eating habits at the minutest of levels. Tracking through any of the apps or keeping a print or even maintaining an excel end of the day can help increase adherence to the plan gradually. I call it self accountability check. - Set a routine - Habit formation happens over few weeks of repeated actions/ events. So, it’s important that one tries to fix a routine and stick to it daily rather than being too flexible and ruining it every now and then. Eg: Keeping a designated time for meal preparation and workout, keeping a specific time for progress check, etc could be good. Plan ahead and prepare accordingly!