You’ve heard the conventional wisdom—don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Why? An empty stomach can trump a thoughtful plan, which is imperative when it comes to healthy eating.
As a nutritionist, I often plan ahead when it comes to eating and exercise—like anybody, when I don’t have a plan, I end up eating unhealthy foods and foregoing workouts. Fortunately, planning ahead is easy. Here are three fundamental ways to do it:
Numerous studies have shown that when you have a plan, you’re more likely to achieve your goals. Whether you’re aiming to lose weight, lower cholesterol, or eat a balanced diet, spend some time on Sundays to map out your meal plan for the week. Consider also using a tracker like myfitnesspal to monitor your diet—their professional insights and forum-based communities help new meal planners and pros alike build and maintain actionable plans around exercise and healthy eating.
If you cook your meals at home, create a grocery list of ingredients that includes protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables (and remember to go to the store when you’re well-fed!). If you’re a Munchery customer, planning your meals won’t even involve a trip to the store. We post our menu up to two weeks in advance, so it takes just a few minutes to schedule your meals for the whole week. All of our nutritional information is readily available on each menu page so you can choose dishes that best support your activities for a specific day or your lifestyle in general. You can also sign up for Munchery Weekly, our recurring shipment service tailored to your preferences so that you’re always prepared to eat well.
2. Add exercise to your calendar
Pencil in your workout just like you would any appointment or meeting, and you’re more likely to stick to it. At the beginning of the week, review your calendar and schedule open times for running, pilates, or your favorite spinning class. Ideally, stick to a consistent exercise schedule, such as weekday mornings at 8am. Even if it’s a SoulCycle class once a week, in time, you’ll find that habitual exercise becomes automatic. Remember to coordinate your exercise with your meal planning, so that you have the adequate nutrition each day to empower your body.
3. Bring healthy snacks with you
Habits are easy and automatic—except when your schedule changes. Business travel, unexpected meetings, and even weather can derail the most dedicated health nuts. The best way to prepare for the unpredictable? Pack healthy, portable snacks, like apples, carrots, nuts or seeds to tide you over until you can get your hands on food that fits your diet choices. If you’re worried staying stocked with fresh produce, keep a couple Lärabars in your backpack for surefire nutrition.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Don’t fail on your health this year. Whether you are trying to overhaul your habits in 2018 or you are just looking to eat a little healthier, try your best to make a plan and stick to it. After all, meal-planning is a relatively small effort that can have you eating (and living) the much better in the new year.
Don’t forget to join our New Year, New You challenge for the chance to win more than $500 worth of health-oriented goodies, including a MyFitnessPal membership and an Apple Watch!