For most people, the biggest obstacle to maintaining a healthy diet is a lack of planning. When you are hungry and exhausted from a busy day, you are less likely to make good food choices. Making last-minute decisions is like playing Russian Roulette with your nutrition, leaving you at the mercy of whatever food is available to you right at that very moment. In these circumstances, we are more likely to make poor food choices and go for the quick fix, which, unfortunately, is rarely as healthy as you know you should be eating.
Thankfully it doesn’t have to be like this.
All you need to do, is set aside a bit of time during the week to prepare healthy food in advance. The philosophy of this food ritual is simple - if healthy food is around and convenient, you're more likely to eat it. The more you plan ahead, the fewer of those last-minute decisions you'll have to make and the more consistent you will be to your diet. So set aside a few hours a week for a food prep ritual, and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to eat well.
The Weekly Food Prep Ritual
Pick a day to plan and prepare most of your meals for the week (like Sunday afternoons). Look at your upcoming calendar, identify your busiest and quietest times or events that you may need some special preparation for. Once you have reviewed your calendar, come up with a general menu for the week or at least for those busy days.
With your menu planned, build your shopping list and then hit the local supermarket or shops (or order online if you are self-isolating or shielding) - remember to stick to the list. Whilst this may seem simple, it's an important step that will hopefully save you time and money at the supermarket. By heading straight for the foods on your list, you're more likely to avoid the temptation of the junk food aisle. Don’t forget to grab some emergency supplies i.e. easily stored healthy options than you can grab on the run e.g. frozen veg, tinned tuna, nuts.
Once your home start prepping and cooking the food. Cook in bulk - for example, by grilling or roasting several chicken breasts at once. Try some meals that can be easily cooked in a slow cooker such as soups, stews, curries, chilli, etc. then freeze or refrigerate them (in microwave-safe containers for quick meals). Each night if needed, move them from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight for the following day.
The Daily Food Prep Ritual
Instead of cooking for the week, you are just cooking for the day ahead. For this to be effective it is best to have done a big shop for the coming week.
Firstly, set out your proteins for the day, season them, and get to work. While your protein is cooking, chop your vegetables. You should be eating 1-2 fist-sized portions of veggies with each meal, and don’t forget to pack some fruit. You can combine the Sunday Ritual with the Daily Ritual -- for example, by preparing the labour-intensive staples such as a lean protein on Sunday, and then adding some quick-prep items (such as fruit and veggies) every day
Healthy Meal Services
More and more diet-conscious people are reaching out to meal delivery services for staying healthy. Some people just simply don’t enjoy cooking or are very busy and might find that removing the hassle of meal prep worthwhile.
These meals are usually prepared to keep in mind your nutritional needs and delivered right to your doorstep. Besides being super convenient, meal delivery companies have come out with menus which are not only nutritious but also very tasty. This service can be expensive but even one meal a day during your busiest or most challenging times might be worth it and might mean the difference between a fresh, whole, clean lunchtime salad or a stopgap fast-food run. Google "healthy meal delivery" in your area and see what pops up.
“Make it a priority to try and incorporate some of the strategies suggested this week… and remember to keep it simple and do what works best for you”
If you are looking for some additional recipes to keep you Healthy in Lockdown, check out the recipe pack designed by Coach Paddy here.
Coach Paddy has worked with a multitude of people to help them transform their nutrition and help them surpass their body composition and health goals. If you are interested in working with Paddy you can contact us here, or drop us a message on social to learn more.