After my freshman year in college, while training for a triathlon, I developed a passion for nutrition. I realized that nutrition is essential for fueling the body and for recovery. My high school and college swim coaches did not educate me about nutrition, so I had to learn on my own and I am still learning.
For me, healthy eating consists of eating smaller, frequent meals and snacks that fuel my training and daily activities. I am mindful of portion size and balance each meal with the three macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats), and I consume lots of fruits and veggies as snacks to avoid hunger.
About five years ago, I committed to my own challenge of planning, preparing, and cooking dinners for 30 days. Although it was a struggle at first, it became a habit, and now I enjoy it. I schedule 30 minutes out of my day to plan, prepare, and cook dinner. I prioritize and schedule grocery shopping, recipe searching, and learning about nutrient-dense whole foods, fresh vegetables, fruit, lean meats and poultry, fish, nuts, beans, seeds, and seed oils for healthy eating.
I don’t grocery shop and cook for the entire week on weekends. Instead, I like to grocery shop about three times per week and cook almost every day. I eat the same breakfast, lunch (leftovers), and snacks. When I prepare my dinners, I follow themes. I eat meatless every day, and I suggest practicing “Meatless Mondays.” I enjoy “Taco Tuesday” and am mindful of “Raw Wednesday.” Thursdays are common for eating leftovers, and Friday is my dinner date night. My favorite cuisines are Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Italian. Saturdays and Sundays vary.
My snack choices depend on what I am lacking or craving. I usually eat fruits, nut butters, steamed veggies, and hummus.
I believe in being smart about what you eat and not depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy because you only live once (YOLO). I recommend taking it one small step at a time and working at it because we get better with time.
Your schedule is unique to you, as is your body, preferences, and needs. Therefore, following a meal plan laid out by someone else for someone else is unlikely to work for you. To successfully meal prep, you need to figure out what works for you. Determine how much time you have in the morning for breakfast, whether you can eat snacks during your workday, and whether you are feeding just yourself or your whole family at dinner.
Planning means setting aside time. Time is valuable and limited, and how we spend our time reflects our priorities. To make time for meal planning and preparation, you need to determine what you can move or eliminate from your schedule. The more consistently you execute your plan, the easier it will be. Find ways to keep yourself accountable for at least 21 days for best results going forward.
My tips for planning include focusing on your priorities and making healthy eating a priority. To make time, you need to determine what you can move or eliminate from your schedule. Just as you schedule work or training commitments, arrange your schedule for meal planning and preparation.
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