One of the biggest concerns my Madden Wellness clients have is the stress surrounding meal planning. Meal planning can be one of the most helpful strategies in long-term weight loss success and can ultimately make healthy living a no-brainer. Except, for one thing…..meal planning can be stressful!!! Many people lack to meal plan simply because they feel as if they don’t know where to start and the task feels so overwhelming. In this post, I wanted to highlight three common mistakes people make while meal planning and how to overcome them.
Brown Rice Puffed Cereal, Banana, Peanut Butter, Cinnamon and Almond Milk
1. Meal Planning Templates.
Many people start planning their meals via the internet. They’ll search ‘meal plans’ or ‘meal plan templates’ and the search will most likely produce options that give a meal plan outlined from as much as a week to a full month. However, the biggest problem with these types of meal plans is that they’re not customized to the individual.
Although trying new foods is great, it may not be so great if you don’t love the foods that have been chosen for you on the meal plan. For example, if the entire meal plan maps out for your lunch to consists of chicken breast, brown rice and green beans, and you don’t like any of those, how likely do you think you will be in sticking to that meal plan?
Instead, try starting with foods you do enjoy. If there are foods that you enjoy that are not particularly healthy options, at the moment, then try to find ways to make them more healthfully. For example, if you enjoy cheeseburgers, then make a cheeseburger at home using ground turkey or grass-fed beef placed between a whole grain bun. Enjoy homemade sweet potato fries as your side. By incorporating foods you already love into your meal plan, you’ll be more likely to stick with it for the long-run.
Orange Chicken Thighs, Cinnamon Maple Carrots, Steamed Mixed Vegetables
2. Trying Too Many New Things.
Another common mistake lots of people make, is attempting to try too many new things. This especially happens if you choose a meal plan template. People download or print a meal plan from the internet and every meal on the plan means a massive shopping trip and a complete overhaul of your pantry just to begin the meal plan!
Not only is this draining on the wallet, but it’s also draining on the meal planning mentality. It can be very overwhelming having to learn an entire week or month worth of meals and new recipes. Not to mention, when you get busy throughout the week and the last thing you want to do is come home and figure out how to make a new dish.
It might be more helpful for you to incorporate many of the meals you’re already familiar with when you begin meal planning. If your goal is to learn to incorporate new foods and try new recipes, why not start out with something new just a couple of nights out of the week? Choose a night when you’re going to have plenty of time and then you may actually look forward to trying something new. In fact, you could make it a family occasion by involving everyone to help create the new recipe. This will help the task seem less daunting and be more fun!
Baked Catfish, Sautéed Mushrooms, Quinoa, Steamed Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes
3. All-or-Nothing Thinking.
Lastly in this series is the action of All-or-Nothing thing. This type of thinking involves seeing things from just a “black and white “perspective. In meal planning, this can be manifested as thinking you have to stick to a meal plan no matter what. If you miss one day on the meal play or stray from in it anyway, then there must be no point in continuing on with the plan for the rest of the week.
This type of thinking creates significant stress and often is the actual cause for straying from a meal plan in the first place. For example, if your meal plan didn’t include a chocolate chip cookie for the day, yet when chocolate chip cookies were brought in by a coworker and you have one, then suddenly you feel as if you’re a failure. After all, if cookies weren’t on the meal plan, did you not fail the meal plan when you chose to eat the cookie? After your perception of failing, you then think, Well, I’ve already messed up my plan, might as well eat a couple of more and get back on track tomorrow.
But it doesn’t have to be a failure. Whatever decision we make is just one choice in that instant. What really matters is what you choose to do next! If you decide that you have thrown it all away and there is no point in continuing on, then you’re very likely to abandon your meal plan and your goals. However, if you decide this one instant is just that, ONE INSTANT, then that’s all it has to be. There’s NO reason you can’t pick up right where you left off and get back on track that very minute.
So those are my tips for some of the most common meal planning mistakes and how to remedy them. Happy meal planning!
What other tips do you have?