Nutrition deciding what to eat

Published on November 3rd, 2013 | by Joe Starks

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Athletic Science: Meal Planning

Planning ahead for something in your life usually makes that task simple. Just think of your wedding, exams or your yearly taxes. If you leave everything for the last minute the most probable outcome is a disaster. So why leave your meal planning for the last minute? Fact is that if you have to decide about what you eat when you are hungry and about to have a meal, and then you will make a worse choice than if you had planned beforehand.

How to plan your meals

It is not an easy thing to start planning your meals, but once you do it a few times you will become better at it. The whole idea is to take the spread effort you do in a week to plan your meals and combine it into one session. So instead of thinking every morning about your food you sit down on Sunday and plan the whole week.

Meal planning works well with calorie counting, since you can plan exactly how many calories you will eat every day. If you simply can’t plan your meals well you can easily hire a professional to do it for you.

Meal planning does not take away the importance of self-control and willpower sadly. You still will have to stick to your plan as best as possible. Meal planning does help you muster that control better though.

It is easier to get yourself to eat a planned meal even if you want something else, than to get yourself away from a snack when you haven’t thought about an alternative. Meal planning makes you conscious of your choices. So, when you don’t follow your plan you know you have eaten something less ideal than your plan would have offered.

There is quite a variety of software online that helps you plan your meals easily. You just press the food you want to eat and immediately you will have a list that will tell you how many calories you will eat that day. Some of those programs will even tell you how much protein, carbohydrates and fat you will consume.

Benefits of meal planning

Since meal planning is a tiresome thing to do there better be some good benefits to it, don’t you agree? Well thankfully we have a comprehensive list of those benefits just below:

  • You can put whatever you like to eat in the plan and find out what portions would be best for your calorie intake. This means your diet won’t be restrictive in quality but quantity, which many find easier to do. Your diet can have cookies, crips, chocolate or anything you like, just not in the amounts you want.
  • You can change your plan every week for variety. This way you won’t be eating the same boring thing all the time.
  • Raise or lower calories depending on your weight loss. If your plan is not working like you want it to you can tweak it to perfection.
  • It gets easier the longer you do it.
  • Children benefit from the structure. You should not have your kids know about their plan, but having steady meals with steady calorific values gives children better satiety and comfort. You should have control of their meals and keep the plan to yourself though. It can be damaging to be too strict with children when it comes to diets, especially teenage girls.

Downsides of meal planning

We’d all be meal planning if it was all roses and sunshine. So, what is it that keeps most of us from planning our meals beforehand? Here are some answers:

  • It takes a lot of time. You have to spend 1-2 hours planning a whole week’s meals and some people just can’t muster the courage or find the time.
  • It is hard to follow when emergencies happen. Sometimes surprise food appears from a neighbor or you are invited to eat something in the office. Meal plans can’t include everything like that and you might find it hard to resist for both social and appetite reasons.
  • You will be hungry if you are planning to lose weight. Having planned meals won’t take anything away from the hunger you will feel when eating less than you want. Dieting will still be hard and painful. You get all the side effects of weight loss no matter how much your plan.

As you can see meal planning is not a panacea when it comes to weight loss and weight maintenance. It is just a tool that might help you see what the right path is. Imagine that meal planning is your map and torch in the dark world of binging, overeating and craving. Using meal planning correctly can take you out of that situation and keep you on the path of healthy eating.

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