Learn The Basics of Building a Balanced Plate
Building a new habit can only happen if you have the tools and skills in place to support it.
In order to live a healthy and active lifestyle, we need to fuel our bodies correctly.
In order to fuel our bodies right, we need to eat balanced, whole food meals.
Whole food, balanced meals don’t just happen on their own- They require some planning and thought and preparation, which starts with us.
Meal planning and food preparation is essential to succeeding with any health goal. Our physical bodies run on what we put in them, and we have the control to prevent and control disease, blood pressure and blood sugar, build muscle, lean out, build immunity and boost energy ALL THROUGH OUR DIET. We choose what we put in our bodies. When we invest the time in meal planning, we are giving ourselves the upper hand in controlling these aspects of our health. But it doesn't just stop there. We save money, time, and stress by knowing exactly what we need and what's coming.
But how do you start? In this article, I will share the steps to take to get you on your way. I am also attaching free resources to help you get going!
1: Get familiar with whole foods.
Having the knowledge of what whole foods are is key. **See the “What Should I Eat?” Infograph to get a better picture of how to move towards eating higher quality foods more often.
2: Learn the basics of balancing your meal.
Knowing how to balance a meal will help you get the fiber, protein, healthy fats and good quality carbohydrates that your body needs to thrive.
See the “Create the Perfect Meal” template to get a quick visual on how to build a well rounded meal.
3: Get your supplies.
Whether its a physical calendar, a magnetic fridge menu or an online app, set yourself up for success by creating a space where you can plan and organize your meals for the coming days/weeks.
4: Adopt a weekly ritual.
Decide what time of the week makes the most sense/is the easiest for you to sit down and plan out your meals. Carve that time out and keep that date to yourself every week, by marking it in your calendar and setting an alarm. The more you practice consistency with a routine, the more natural a part of your life it will become.
5: Create a list.
Working with what you already enjoy, start building a list of meals that you can add into your rotation. I like to separate mine into groups:
When I start, I love making 4 columns for carbs, fats, proteins and veggies.
Then I start filling out each column (using the “What Should I Eat” chart for ideas, with foods I like and that agree with my body. After that, I can mix and match to make meals, and then I can set them in categories for Breakfast/Lunch/Dinners/Snacks. As I build my menu, I use what is already in the house, and keep a running grocery list of the foods I will need.
Download these free shopping lists to help you plan for your next shop!
6: Consider a goal. What would you like to gain out of meal planning?
Saving time? Keep your recipes simple and minimally prepared like roasts and baked potatoes with salad and corn. (Or google simple dinners in under 20 minutes if you get stuck!)
Saving money? Brainstorm cheaper ways to eat (buying in bulk, using tougher, cheaper cuts of meat in a pressure cooker, adding in vegetarian meals like beans and tofu)
Getting lean? Focus in on high, lean protein, high quality carbs like potatoes, whole grains and fruit, and high fiber to help fuel your workouts, keep you full and repair muscle.
Whatever your goal, keep it in mind as you build your meals and seek out resources.
On a Side:
Meal planning can go through phases, as kids grow and tastes change, dietary needs evolve, or your get bored and try new things. This habit is meant to serve you, not the other way around. Don't let the idea of it overwhelm you. Use the resources provided, and keep it simple and fun!
One Last thing...
Even if you aren’t into cooking, you can still eat well through a number of meal plan delivery services that cater to a whole foods lifestyle! Try sharing the load with a partner, and getting your kids in on the fun by asking for their input and letting them help you cook! Not only will they be helping you out, but you will be setting an example to them about how to prioritize healthy living, and they will be that much more prepared when they are out on their own.