Plan Your Meals

It’s a savvy way to streamline prep, shop efficiently and stay on plan!

Benjamin Franklin once said ” If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.  He couldn’t ne more on point when it comes to success in weight loss!  As with most things in life, advance work pays off with mealtime.  Whether you pre-track your dinner in the afternoon, batch prep the week’s lunches or decide on a full day’s menu before you even eat breakfast, planning make it easier to do the following:

  • Avoid spur of the moment eating.  When you know what and when your next meal is, you are less likely to be influenced by extreme hunger or external triggers (think donuts).
  • Multiply your possibilities!  Planning your meals helps you explore different foods and bring in a range of flavors and nutritional benefits.
  • Save money.  If you enter the supermarket with a solid list of ingredients for specific meals, you won’t spend on food you don’t need.  
  • Get in the Healthy Eating Zone.  You can plot out your meals and snacks to have them fit into your healthy calorie range.  
  • Enjoy every bite.  When you shed the stress of last minute decisions, you can anticipate and then really savor the tastes, textures and colors of your meals and snacks.
For me – planning before hitting the grocery is the most important thing.  Each week I plan out healthy meals for the family, then make my list of what I need to pick up at the store.  I really push myself to ONLY buy the items on my list.  Junk food is NEVER on my list.  Now don’t get me wrong – does the junk food jump in the cart every now and again – yup!  But going in with a plan spares me those “easy” dinners that aren’t always good for you.
In the Weight Watcher’s Weekly on this topic a member had some suggestions on what she does to plan for success –
  1. Batch cook and freeze!
  2. Focus on the foods you love!
  3. Keep pre-cut fresh and veggies on hand!
  4. Boost flavor with salsa!
Try planning for a week and see how it goes – I bet you’ll love it.  You definitely save money when you plan.  Because the chance of getting takeout goes WAY down. 

    Scheduling Your Meals?

    Planning when you’ll eat helps you manage hunger, avoid unplanned eating and make healthier choices.  

    There’s a lot to be said for this.  If you have a scheduled healthy eating plan for the day, you’re definitely less likely to go off the rails and eat unplanned foods (and for most of us, that’s junk food- Am I right?).  A few years back i saw a nutritionist to help me in my weight loss efforts and that was the main sticking point to her whole program.  Eating breakfast as soon as you wake, then a snack a few hours later, then lunch, another snack, dinner and an optional snack in the evening if you needed something to tide you over until the morning.  Her schedule also included “food rules”, that I won’t go into all of them here, but one of them sticks with me today – which I still try to achieve (not nearly as much as I should) is no carbohydrates for dinner – proteins and veggies only.  Which makes sense if you really think about it.  Going to bed with a tummy full of carbs isn’t the best plan for weight loss.
    Something that we rarely think about is there are two types of hunger:  Internal and External.  It’s vital for your weight loss efforts to be able to manage internal hunger, because when you’re internally hungry, you’ll eat just about anything and it raise your risk of external hunger.  the best way to manage internal hunger is to create an eating schedule that helps you from going long periods without eating.
    So what’s internal and external hunger?  Here are some ways to recognize the differences:
    What’s the trigger?
    • Internal – things inside your body.
    • External – outside forces, people, places, emotions, the sight of food, the smell of food.
    Physical Sensations:
    • Internal – Growling stomach, slight lightheadedness and/or headache.
    • External – None
    What you’ll eat:
    • Internal – Anything 
    • External – Specific food
    • Internal – Usually more than 4 hours after the last time you ate.
    • External – Usually less than 4 hours since you last ate.
    Once you are able to recognize the difference between internal and external hunger, create and eating schedule to help you manage it.  Another good way to know, really quickly, if you are really hungry or if it’s your emotions (or any other from the list) – is what kind of food is going to satisfy you – will an apple fulfill your need for food or is it something super specific? (and for most it’s junk food)  
    Scheduling your meals can also help in stopping yourself from overeating, because you are most likely planning your scheduled meals ahead of time.  When you meal plan you’re making better choices and creating a serving size for yourself.  You’re less likely to overeat when you’ve had something to “top off” your tummy all day long too.
    Have you tried this?  Do you like it?  Any tips?

    Enjoy Eating Out

    Plan for stress-free, fun and delicious away from home dining, thanks to zero Points goods and rollovers, plus your digital tools.

    Using WW Freestlye is all about being able to “live freely” – giving you the flexibility to enjoy social occasions with family and friends-the trick is a little planning.  We all know you can’t dictate the menus when you go out to eat or visit with family or friends, but there are things you can do before you go!  That way you’re prepared for anything – even family holidays.  Because eating out doesn’t have to mean a restaurant, it can mean eating anywhere other than your house.

    So for us weight Watcher’s out there – we can bank our points for that special meal out.  We already have weeklies to spend, then add up to 4 unused SmartPoints values per day to that mix and you have a nice little bankroll to pull from for that meal out.  

    Another thing that everyone that has been at this whole weight loss thing for a while know is that you decide ahead of time (if possible) on what you’d like to eat.  Most restaurants offer their menu online for viewing so you can take a look at what they offer so you can make an informed choice when you get to the restaurant.  You can settle on what you plan to eat, long before you sit in the seat!  Will you have a dessert, drink or both?  When you make the decision ahead of time , you can feel more confident than when you are “in the moment”.

    Another great tool that many of us have at our disposal is calorie tracking apps.  for Weight Watcher’s subscribers there is the WW App, where you can look up many restaurants and see how many point s that dinner is going to be.  If you can’t find the restaurant or the exact meal you were looking for, many of these major chain restaurants also post their nutritional information on their websites, so you can also track from there.  Those nutritional sheets are frightening for most of my old favorites at the restaurant!

    Then there’s another good tool – pregame your meal!  Eat a low SmartPoints snack (or low calorie for non-weight watchers peeps), if you have yourself a filling little snack before heading out to that meal you wont be ravenous on arrival at the restaurant.

    Last but not least when it’s all said and done – the most important thing to remember when eating out is to keep in the back of your mind “it’s just one meal”.  If you can remember that, you’ll get through it, even if it doesn’t go exactly as planned.  The moments made with family and friends when sharing a meal are something that is far more important than how many calories you’ve consumed.  Knowing that you can get right back on your plan at the next meal is key and if you stick to that, then you’ve been successful because as one of my WW leaders once said – that was your plan – to enjoy yourself, then get right back on plan for the next meal.

    What are your tips for mastering the task of eating anywhere but your home space?

    It’s the Holiday Season!

    Plan how you’ll have a Happy Holiday!

    We discussed this topic in the meeting room just prior to Thanksgiving, however I feel it’s just appropriate for Christmas dinners!  The Great plate!  It’s all about the plan.  When you’re at a bountiful feast during the holiday season you can choose what foods are worth it to you (or not) and enjoy the day to the fullest without losing sight of your goals.  The secret is to plan ahead.  Preparing for a holiday dinner may seem daunting and I would agree, but chances are you can predict 90% of what is going to be at the table, even if you are the guest and not the host.  Remember that when you’re with family and friends you love, it doesn’t matter what you’re eating!  Thinking about the menus ahead of time cab help you anticipate challenges ( yummy gravy, buttery mashed potatoes), set priorities (cheese and crackers vs pumpkin pie) and ask for what you need.  You can also decide whether to stick to your daily points/calorie target or if you’ll break into those weeklies!  Maybe you’ll let yourself go over by a certain amount or even take a day off from tracking all together.  Thinking ahead let’s you choose what’s best for you and it helps you set up to get back on track the very next meal (or the very next day).  

    Weight Watchers Weekly offered a great suggestion for a 12 hour strategy to get you through some of the toughest holiday meals!
    • Morning – Eat a healthy breakfast.  Regular meals during the day can help keep you from being ravenous at the holiday meal.
    • Midmorning – Before things get too busy, carve out a few minutes to breathe, stretch, read, whatever keeps you grounded.  It can help you feel more focused, less stressed and able to tackle the day’s hurdles.
    • Midday – Eat a light nutritious lunch to keep up your energy and your hunger level manageable. (Yes, even if there’s more food coming later).  Being starving at the table is a bad plan.
    • At the big meal – Remember your plan.  
      • Savor the flavor.  Eat mindfully to max your pleasure and feel satisfied sooner.
      • Create a plate packed with eye appeal.  Choose colorful veggies, drizzle on gravy and give your food some space so you can appreciate how it looks.
      • Look around the table for a moment or two and take in the setting – the candles, sparkling glasses, holiday touches and smiling faces.
      • Take a deep breath or a few, before you dig in, it will help center you in the moment. 
      • Chew slowly, focus on the taste and texture.  Your stomach will thank you!
      • Put down your fork often and engage in the conversation – that’s the longer lasting pleasure of the day.
      • Pace yourself to the slowest eater. (you’ll be seated until everyone is finished anyway – so what’s the point of finishing first!)
    • Choosing your food – Consider all options, then bypass foods that you can eat any old time.  Focus on the special ones you enjoy the most.  Can’t decide?  That’s ok too.  Take bite sized portions of a few rather than a full portion of one.  Snap a picture of your plate in case you want to track later.
    • After eating – Wait five minutes before having seconds to see if you’re still hungry.  Move away from the food and focus on the other “F” words: family, friends and fun.
    • After dessert – Declare the meal done!  Then switch gears – help clear the table, suggest a walk, or settle down for conversation or holiday programs.
    During the holidays many of us focus on how stressed we are rather than how blessed we are to have such wonderful family and friends to share the season with.  I hope you find a moment during this holiday season to be thankful.  

    Wishing you the very best for the Holiday Season and a Very Happy New Year!

    Self Care, Putting yourself first….

    The struggle for me is real on this one.  It feels like there’s never enough time for the things I want to do.  Now before I continue, let me just say that I know that being a mom is a full time, all the time job.  My family means the world to me.  BUT sometimes this mom and wife needs a break.  I have been a stay at home mom now for two years and I’ve spent most of these two years trying to figure out “what am I going to do?”  I’ve realized that what I need to do is find something for me!  I had been taking metaphysical classes (that’s what we’ll call them…) from October 2014 thru June 2016, these were weekly classes and they were something very special to me.  I created great connections with these people and they continue today.  However now these classes have gone to a once a month meeting, which just isn’t the same.  I need to find something to replace this.  Maybe it’s teaching the classes myself, maybe it’s honing some of the skills I’ve learned over the past two years, maybe it’s something all new or it’s a little bit of all of that!
    I’ve also put my health on the back burner again.  I was working so hard on implementing a workout regime and eating healthier.  It was too much all at once.  I set myself up to fail and fail I did.  As I wrote in my last blog post, the kids are at school and I essentially have Monday thru Friday from 10-2 to do things-whether it’s office work for my husbands business or house management or just me time.  I’m a schedule maker, a list maker – it’s how I thrive.  So I’m working on finding a balance with all of these things instead of trying to do things at once.  I have been meal planning and doing my grocery shopping for just what’s on the meal plan (every Monday!).  I need to refine my shopping skills (no junk!) and really need to add back in some exercise.  Baby steps…it’ll happen.
    So as one of the first things I’ve decided to do for myself in the “New Year” that began on Tuesday, is posting every Friday on my blog.  Honestly you can probably expect most posts to be just like this one.  A rambling mess of what’s happening right now in my crowded head.  If that’s good with you then I look forward to seeing you next week!
    Until next Friday….remember…