We all know the rule, “Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.” It usually comes to mind when we’re driving home from work with a rumbling stomach, worrying about what to eat for dinner. When we make food decisions out of hunger or a lack of planning, our carts often steer themselves down the wrong aisle, derailing our weight loss goals. While steering clear of the store while hungry is smart advice, there’s a bigger lesson to be learned: Incorporate meal planning into your daily routine so you can make smarter food choices and fuel your healthy lifestyle.
Extreme Hunger Doesn’t Help
Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Whether you’re trying to lose major pounds or simply maintain your current weight, it’s not beneficial to go into starvation mode. Waiting until you’re extremely hungry to eat physically slows your metabolism—stalling weight loss—and mentally disposes you to binge on high-calorie foods of poor nutritional value.
If this is a struggle you face, plan to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day, including healthy, low-calorie snacks.
If hitting the supermarket late on a work night seems exhausting, schedule another time during the week to do your grocery shopping. Maybe it’s on Saturday morning after a walk outside, before visiting the local farmer’s market for fresh produce, or Sunday night while you’re getting ready for the week ahead. The trick is to plan shopping time in advance, when you’re well-rested and nourished, so you’ll make better choices.
Getting Started with Meal Planning
The thought of spending hours in the kitchen toiling over multiple appliances may sound intimidating if you’re not accustomed to it. Here are some simple tips for thoughtful meal prep to set you up for success:
- Start small. Plan just the next day’s breakfast, lunch, and one snack in advance. Each week, add a few more dishes to your task list.
- Organize (and purge!) your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry so you’re working fresh. It’s hard to see what healthy options are available when bags of chips and tubs of ice cream are in the way.
- If you’re budget-conscious, check the local paper or grocery store’s website to see prices of meats and fish. Then, plan your meals based on what proteins are on sale and what produce is in season.
- Set up a small whiteboard or “menu” in the kitchen to write down what you’ll be eating that week. Visually seeing it can help you stay on track.
- Make a pact with yourself to only eat what you’ve prepared in your home, so you won’t be tempted by impulse buys when you’re on the go.
Meal Prep Hacks
Once you’ve mastered the basics and are feeling great about planning your meals in advance, you can find ways to make preparing foods even easier. These ideas may help you stick to the progress you’ve made so far:
- Portion out daily snacks like baby carrots or celery sticks into small plastic bags for each weekday.
- Whole fruits like apples, bananas, and oranges can be eaten on-the-go, no fridge needed.
- Line up non-perishable foods such as powdered shakes or dry oatmeal on the counter before bed, so your morning gets off to a smooth start.
- Supplement your own fresh foods with meal replacements, beverages, and healthy snacks from Ideal Protein, whose high biological protein foods and vegetables help support weight loss.
- Purchase containers that have segmented sections for protein and veggies so well-balanced meals can be heated up easily at home or work. For lunch, salad containers with separate dressing compartments allow you to enjoy a homemade, light vinaigrette instead of heavy, cream-based substitute.
Make Healthy Choices a Habit
Planning to make healthy and convenient food choices will set you on the right path to achieve your weight loss goals. Once you get in the groove, it’ll be just as easy to grab your own planned meals and snacks as it would be to hit up the drive-thru. You’ll find the food options that truly work for you in no time.
If you’d like to learn more about the low-calorie, high-protein meals and snacks within the Ideal Protein program, contact us at Plantation Wellness Center today. Plantation Wellness is the premier weight loss center in South Florida, specializing in the science-backed, results-driven Ideal Protein protocol.