One of the very best tools for sticking to a new or restrictive diet is meal planning. Meal planning can help to take all the guesswork out of figuring out a new diet and starting healthy habits. With just a little bit of work put in at the beginning of each week, you can save time, money, and a whole lot of hassle.
The first part of meal planning is making the decision to really give it a try. This seems obvious, but you really have to resolve to make your meal plan and actually go through with it. If you aren’t resolved to truly follow through, you could be setting yourself up for failure.
Take Time to Research
If you are starting a new diet, you may still be unsure about what foods you should eat, and therefore you likely don’t even know where to start to build a meal plan. A little bit of research can go a long way in this case. Research recipes that fit into your diet plan, but also aren’t too complicated. Start with simple recipes with few ingredients, and then move to more complicated recipes as you get more comfortable with your prescribed foods.
Make a List
Use your recipes to decide which meals you would like to eat for the next few days up to a week. Make sure you plan for all meals and snacks as well. Write your meal plan out on a calendar. Then, using your plan, write out a list of ingredients you need to prepare each of these meals.
Use your list to do your grocery shopping. Having all of your ingredients and items needed will help you adhere to your plan.
Do Your Prep Work
Another simple task that can help make your meal plan easier to follow is to do as much prep work ahead of time as possible. This could mean chopping veggies, measuring out ingredients, or putting meats in the marinade. The goal is to make each meal as simple as possible. Some of this prep work can be done at the beginning of the week, and some may be best done the night before.
Stick To It
When you first begin a new diet or try anything new such as meal planning, it can be all too easy to fall back into old routines. Give yourself a trial period- such as two weeks to a month- to put real effort into this new meal planning routine. At first, it may seem tedious or even boring to have everything all planned out for you, but over a short amount of time you will notice how much easier it is to stick to your new diet, and also how much easier even the busiest of days can be.
Meal planning is an excellent way to get used to a new diet, especially one that is restrictive for health reasons. Simply follow the steps until it becomes second nature. You can share your meal plan with your nutritionist or health care provider if you have any questions about how your plan works for your health conditions.
Also published on Medium.