Meal Planning and Preparation
I think meal planning and preparation is my greatest challenge to long-term nutritional success. In my quest to be a role model and ambassador for fitness results I often put pressure on myself to walk the walk. I’m human and in my experience, the challenges I face are not unique to me. I often come across others that are feeling similar nutritional challenges with themselves, and their families. It’s reassuring to know that all improvements we can make with consistency will result in progress towards the end goal of sound eating in my opinion: To feel healthy and move well in your skin. Listen here to my discussion on this topic with Jon McComb on CKNW 980am.
Nutrition is the answer to your health, body composition, and performance goals. There are many factors that influence our nutrition and some are easier to dial in more consistently than others.
Do you have these daily habits under control?
Water, eating until you are 80% full, eating slowly without distractions, eat protein dense foods with each meal, 8 servings of vegetables and 2 fruits, and healthy fats.
In order to make those happen you have to have food on hand and so that leads me to ask you about Meal Preparation and Planning.
Who’s driving your nutritional bus?
Does the meal planning and preparation belong to one person or member of the household, or are the responsibilities shared? Who is the chief cook and bottle-washer? Do their nutritional goals align with yours? Perhaps some honest conversations have to happen in order to close the gap between what is happening currently and what needs to happen to improve the nutritional habits we are talking about.
Message From Top of the Food Chain – Coach Ewart
I have worked with Dave Ewart at it’s time! Fitness Results for 6 years. I joke when I say he’s at the top of the food chain but the truth in the humor is that he lives at the top end of nutritional health. The staff and I are always in awe of his lunch and dinners plates at the gym. He shares some of his strategies with me here:
The hated meal prep! To facilitate a healthy diet and body composition it is of utmost importance. Why so challenging? It takes time and our days seem to be filled with other important things or are they? If we asked 10 people to list three things that are of utmost importance to you what would they be, well health is going to be on most people’s list. In order to be healthy, eating habits have to be established so meal prep is on the top of that list. When you meal prep you leave out grey areas like what am I going to eat now. Your meals are ready to go leaving out any guesswork.
To be successful at meal prep you first must know what you are going to eat. I do not change what I am consuming much but for people who need variety research your recipes well and then shopping is a necessity. The reason I do not change my food selection a whole bunch is I consider food to be fuel and healthy fuel means a better functioning body. I also am the type of person who does not need a ton of variety so once again if you are they are many good recipes out there. I think side note: sometimes simple healthy food selections go a long way in our busy worlds and yes simple can taste great.
Some people dislike it and some like it. Personally, I like to shop and yes I am one of those people who will read labels and take my time. As you get accustomed to certain foods you are going to consume your time in the grocery store becomes much faster and becomes a fine art. Really the only foods you ever have to read labels on are ones in packages so the fresher the better and that begs to less processed food. I shop twice a week usually and typically with driving time spend 1.5 to 2.5 hours a week food shopping.
Is this feeling like “work”? No this is a healthy habit that must be slowly installed into your lifestyle. When you have a family you and your spouse should share the duties of shopping and cooking, hopefully, everyone in the household is on board with the healthy eating habits and meal prep.
Now that you have done your shopping, cooking for the week let’s see what that looks like. Well in my case I cook on Monday afternoon or evening for my work week, which is Tuesday to Friday. My goal every week is to eat as healthy as I can during workdays and be okay with a bit of weekend eating outside my healthy habits. I do not like cheat days but if it is a birthday or special occasion a piece of cake tastes so good. Cooking typically takes me 2 to 3 hours including cutting or chopping. Yes that means I eat leftovers during my work week you can cook twice a week if you like or you can cook every night you come home but this once a week works efficiently for myself. If you can establish the 80/20 rule which is 80 percent of the time I will eat healthily, and 20 percent of the time I will eat outside my healthy habits you are doing okay. Ask yourself if that what you are doing now? I follow the 90/10 rule but I eat to fuel so read into that as you may.
Dinner or late night
Meal prep for dinner or late night eating really is a hard thing for all or is it? I typically spend including driving time between 11 to 13 hours driving to, at, and driving home from work. So the 4 days of work per week are full day consuming, never mind the countless hours the team spends behind a computer at night or morning. No complaints love my career and teammates. My dinner is my lunch so that is my biggest meal I also bring a salad to work. When I get home around 9 pm I am going to eat again but what? For sure I am eating high protein foods with some complex carbs, those are long days but I am not reaching for crappie food choices. I have healthy meals delivered to my house each week, lots of good food services out there, which is an option to consume or one of my favorites is an egg white wrap with possibly a bit of cream cheese. Having done meal prep on Monday I could just warm up some of that healthy food or consume a salad, my salads are very hearty and taste delicious.
Food prep is a habit and like any habit being consistent is key!
Dave’s Order of things:
- Know what you are going to consume before food shopping
- Food shopping once or twice a week. High-grade protein and vegetables, eating the rainbow, are main foods on my list
- Food prep and cooking pick a day and be consistent each week
I’m driving the bus but….
I’m trying to make things that everyone likes, I’m trying to please…food is love right? I can’t keep up with the likes, dislikes, ethics, and the choices keep changing in my world. Vegan yes, Vegetarian yes, ok only vegetarian…and a little meat.
Entertaining. This has a huge influence of what goes in the body.
Do you have occupational influences that affect your nutrition? Are there unhealthy foods at work? Responsibilities to dine out, and travel?
I put in quotations to emphasize the power that can be put on us through food by our families. “Have a little more, have seconds, have dessert, have another glass of wine.” “I spent so much time making this for you and you won’t eat it.” ” Eat your vegetables or no dessert for you!”
“When my son Mitchell was little I got into a major disagreement with my mother-in-law one day while staying with her about the fact he would only eat the bacon in the spinach salad and not the spinach. She exerted her powers on us by withholding both from him. I was very upset with her for making such a big deal about it and not allowing him a bite of bacon! It was her house, her food prep, and her control. Fast forward 18 years…now he doesn’t eat bacon…only spinach. He’s celebrating 1 year as a vegan. ” ~Sheila
How to Master Meal Planning and Preparation: Adapted from Precision Nutrition’s Guide
Look ahead – Make a menu or two, plan shopping, and cooking time in your calendar
Shop: Decide 1 -2 -3 times a week
Stick to your planned cooking times: batch cook your food groups
Make storage easy and convenient by having lots of glass containers on hand
Making real food with fresh ingredients can be fun. Try cooking your way through a cookbook. At least you know what’s going into your body. We lose that control with processed food and restaurant meals. Use cookbooks as a way to experiment, eat healthier, and reap the rewards for your taste buds.
Remember Weight Loss Should be slow
A review of the “Dieting Principles”, by Dr. Bill Campbell that I discussed in an earlier blog can be found here.
#1 The Rate of Weight Loss Should be Slow
#2 Do not Decrease Dietary Protein When Dieting
#3 Perform Resistance Training During Caloric Restriction
Improving your meal planning and preparation will result in success. You can enjoy all the benefits of great nutrition, lose weight, and achieve long-term results with a few improvements. Tailor or scale the habit to suit your lifestyle and evaluate your changes every few weeks. Remember Dave is dialed in through the week and leaves the weekends less rigid.
Prepare for social situations, travel, and dining out in advance. Open up conversations with your friends, family, and co-workers so you can share with them the importance of improving nutrition for the long term.
We can succeed and make progress towards the end goal of sound eating in my opinion: To feel healthy and move well in your skin.
We’re in it for the long game – Will you join us?
Inform, Instruct, and Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results
Written by: Sheila Hamilton and David Ewart
Pictures below: Dave’s Vegetable Prep, and Christina’s Overnight Oat Prep
Christina Carrick: Coach at it’s time! Fitness Results
Conversations with Dave Ewart and the staff at it’s time! Fitness Results
Notes from Precision Nutrition Infographic: How to Master Meal Prep
The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition – Certification Manual: Dr. John Berardi, Ryan Andrews
Photo Copyright: <a href=”https://www.123rf.com/profile_scyther5″>scyther5 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Notes from the NSCA National Conference: Maximizing Body Composition and Metabolism with Exercise and Nutrition: Abbie E Smith Ryan, PhD Associate Professor University of North Carolina
The Science of Weight Loss – Dr. Bill Campbell : NSCA 2018 Conference notes and slides