What you eat is important. It affects stress, sleep, body image, and overall well-being. These days, the number of philosophies on nutrition are endless and trying to determine the best way to make good food choices can be overwhelming.
We like to keep our focus simple: Eat Real Food. That’s it. If you can stay away from processed foods and focus on fresh, real food, your body will thank you. While the principle is simple, it does take some planning and preparation to turn this principle into a life-long change.
How Do you Determine What Is “Real Food”?
“Real Food” is any food item that is not processed. When you begin to follow this particular Fit Five principle, you will find yourself spending more time in the outside edges of your grocery store buying whole-ingredient foods. Whatever diet philosophy you choose, the key is to keep your food as unprocessed as possible. Stay away from things that are manufactured in a lab or contain ingredients you cannot pronounce. Instead, stick to these basic categories to ensure a nutrient-rich diet that is sure to improve your health.
Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese
Boneless, Skinless Chicken breast
Fresh Fish or Shellfish
The benefits of meal planning go far beyond your diet. We’ve compiled a list of the top four benefits to weekly meal planning and meal prepping.
1. Save Time
It may sound crazy, but taking 20-30 minutes each week to plan your meals and prepare a grocery list will save time in the long run. Your trips to the grocery store will be more efficient, and you won’t spend valuable time each day trying to figure out what you’re going to eat.
2. Eat Healthier
A healthy diet is our top priority and meal planning ensures that you will make good food choices throughout the week. With a plan in place, you will be less likely to make poor choices
3. Save Money
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. When you create a meal plan for the week, you limit the number of times you would normally eat out, which saves money. Additionally, utilizing a grocery list while shopping will reduce those impulse items that you might normally purchase during your trip.
4. Try new things
Meal Planning gives you the ability to be creative and try recipes you might not otherwise try. Try one new recipe each week so you don’t get stuck in a rut!
Meal Preparation is key to healthy eating, especially if you lead a busy and active life. Sure, it may feel time-consuming at first as you begin to prep your week of meals ahead of time. In the end, you will be well prepared and your meals will be nutritious.
We recommend you take an afternoon each week to prepare your snacks and meals for the week. Chop vegetables, measure servings for snacks, and prepare anything that can be made ahead of time. Invest in some good containers to help keep your serving sizes in check (we really like these).
Track Your Food Intake
Keep track of the food you eat each day. Whether you utilize an App such as Myfitnesspal, a journal, or another method, it is important to know what you are putting into your body each day. Writing things down keeps you accountable for the food that goes into your mouth. In addition, consistent journaling can help you identify positive and negative habits, and even nutritional patterns.
Plan Ahead For 90/10
Fit Five Principle #5 is 90/10: Progress over Perfection. We’ll discuss this later in more detail, but for now, just remember you can’t (and you shouldn’t) eat totally healthy foods 100% of the time. There will be times during your week when you find yourself needing to adjust your menu or schedule. That’s ok!
As much as possible, try to plan for those cheat meals so you stay on track the remainder of the week. By having something to look forward to, you will be able to stay focused on healthy eating for the majority of the week. Remember that good nutrition is a lifelong goal, not a quick and easy diet fix.
Stay tuned for more information about our Fit Five!