December 31, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller
Picture this: It is now January 31, 2014—you just stepped off the scale—and you break into the happy dance (with abandon, since no one can see you!) because you are now 10 pounds closer to your ideal weight! Stay with me: Now picture February 28, 2014—and once again you’re doing the happy dance (who cares if anyone is watching at this point!) because you are now 18 pounds closer to your ideal weight!
Wait a minute—what has made 2014 different? Why the success?
Maybe because this blog caught your attention and you just decided to approach this 2014 New Year differently. Instead of counting calories (how confusing, frustrating, and ineffective can that be?) and trying to figure out what to eat for your next meal in the ‘diet world’, how about taking a few minutes and planning out what you’re going to eat for each meal? This can be done on a daily basis in the evening or on a weekly basis. Consider it Planning for Long-Term Success (instead of short-term weight loss). So instead of waiting until the end of the day and writing down what you ate in a food journal,switch it up and be proactive by planning ahead—A Proactive Food Journal, so to speak.
I know—you may be questioning, “Why don’t I just sign up for one of those plans where all your food gets sent to you?” A few reasons to avoid such plans:
- The food tends to be highly processed and of poor quality with low overall nutritional value. A goal to reach your ideal weight should NOT compromise your health.
- Even if weight is lost using such a plan, it’s not a healthy lifestyle change that can or should be used on a long-term basis. Why not work on incorporating healthy eating habits along the way so that once your ideal weight is reached, it is easier to maintain?
Check out the four steps below…
First Step: DELETE the word ‘diet’ from your vocabulary and the ‘diet’ mindset from your brain. We all eat, therefore we are all on some type of ‘diet’. Consider this your Healthy Eating Plan—for the rest of your life. I think you’ll agree that focusing on a healthy eating plan sounds way more positive and do-able than going on a diet.
Second Step: WRITE/TYPE OUT your meal plans for at least the next day—or, better yet, for the entire week. Here is an example of an online form you could print out and fill in: http://www.vertex42.com/Files/pdfs/2/weekly-meal-planner_portrait.pdf (weekly menu planner). Here is an example of a simple smart phone app called ‘Food on the Table’: http://www.foodonthetable.com/preset
Third Step: Remember these pointers as you fill in your eating plan for the week:
- Keep pre-packaged/already-prepared foods (processed foods) to a minimum
- Minimize ‘white’ foods, such as those made with white flour and sugar (FYI: most whole wheat options aren’t much better than ‘white’ options—look for whole grain options)
- Include a protein source (4-6 oz) and healthy fats (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil…) with each meal, with the majority of at least 2 meals being veggies (think salad greens, colorful veggies…not potatoes)
- Counting calories is really not necessary when the above pointers are incorporated into your decision-making (more and more articles being published on this topic)
Fourth Step: Refer to your plan every morning and evening to keep on track. And remember, it’s a process—give yourself some grace—brush yourself off—and start fresh each day—you can do it!
If you’re looking for ideas to help with menu planning, Pinterest is a great online option. My site is: http://www.pinterest.com/sanalk/ and has recipe boards categorized by Healthy Entrees, Healthy Veggie Ideas, Soups, Salads, Appetizers, Desserts… There are thousands of other food-related Pinterest boards to provide great meal options–as well as great food blog sites, such as:
Photo credits: sparkpeople.com, 1075zoofm.com, gingergarner.com