The first step in creating self-trust with your eating is deciding what you’re going to eat before you eat it.
This month we’re going to create a Protocol – which is basically a ‘food uniform’ or a meal plan. Based on how food makes you feel (refer back to lesson 7.2 How Habits are Connected to review the resources: The Habit Matrix & Biomarkers to troubleshoot listening to your body), we’re going to add more of the good stuff and limit the stuff that doesn’t make you feel amazing.
Where I want you to start, is with getting used to planning what you’re going to be eating for the week. You don’t have to be perfect at it, but do what you can. Start with the steps below.
All right, so in this video, I want to talk about meal planning. Now, what’s interesting about meal planning is that, when I talk about it with my clients, what they hear is, “I need to prepare all of my meals.” And that just is not true. What we want to do is we want to know ahead of time what we’re going to be eating.
And so, when we go back to the hunger scale, one of the things that we talked about is how we’ll get hungry. We’ll get like a little dip in hunger, and that’s like usually at a negative two, and then we go back to normal, and then we hang out at normal for a while until we get really hungry, and that’s like at the negative four. And we’ve always heard that we never want to get too hungry because if we get too hungry, then we’ll overeat.
Except, if we’ve already planned, what it is that we are going to eat for that meal. So, the best way that you can be successful with the hunger scale is to already have decided, decide ahead of time what it is that you are going to be eating. We’re going to be talking about deciding ahead of time again, in a few weeks. However, right now, I just want you to figure out that ahead of time.
Now, again, deciding ahead of time or planning your meals does not mean that you have to prepare every single thing that you eat. Does it make weight loss easier? Yes, but it’s not required. In fact, I eat many of my meals out and I do that through making sure that I eat enough vegetables and that I pay attention to my hunger scale.
And so, if we pay attention to the hunger scale, while we’re eating and we eat slowly, then our food will tell us how much we need to be eating. So, you can eat out, you can go to parties and eat, and do all of those great things, and not have to prepare your meals.
Something that I also want to add is when it comes to meal planning, as far as eating out goes, what I want you to start thinking about is, if you know where you’re going to be eating, like, what restaurant you’re going to be eating out? This is the first step to be able to walk into a restaurant and order off the menu and make sure that you’re ordering something healthy and that is good for you.
When you’re in this first stage of meal planning and this first stage of self-trust, what we want to do is, I want you to check out the menu ahead of time and decide from a place of using your prefrontal cortex, the rational thinking part of your brain before you get hungry. What exactly is going to happen when you sit down in the restaurant? Are you going to eat bread? Are you going to drink alcohol? Are you going to drink water? What are you going to order on the menu? And what are you going to do if they don’t have that? Or if something changes and the restaurant gets changed at the last minute for whatever reason, that stuff happens.
So, instead of being like, “oh, F it, I can’t eat what I had planned on.” Being able to regroup, being able to be resilient, and figuring out how to best serve the future version of yourself. So again, when we’re talking about meal planning, what we’re talking about is not just preparing your own food, but also when you go out to eat, what are you going to decide ahead of time to eat there? All right?
Now, there are going to be situations where you cannot figure out ahead of time, what you’re going to be eating. Just recently, I went to a benefit of sorts, and I had no idea what was going to be there as far as food goes.
Now, I could have eaten ahead of time that would have set myself up for success. And if I had thought about it better, I probably would have done that because what was there was pizza, and rice, and deep fried avocados. And it was all tasty stuff, but there was no protein to be found and there weren’t any vegetables to be found.
And so, I was just really hypervigilant about paying attention to my hunger signals and not being like, “oh, screw it.” Okay? So, just be aware that we can be successful and not have to prepare all of our food. Okay?
So, when we’re talking about meal planning, there are a couple things that I want you to pay attention to.
Now, what most of my clients have success with is that they will plan their dinners for the week. And they’ll go to the grocery store and do one large shop on the weekend, and then do minimal preparation on the weekend, just so that it makes the week a little bit easier.
So, I want to detail a few different processes for you that I take when planning my meals for the week. And be aware that this is going to be an iterative process for you. Meaning that the first time you do it, it’s not going to come out perfectly, it’s okay. What you’re going to do is you’re going to refine, and get curious, and figure it out, and then see where you need to get better, and then figure out a process that works for you. So, I’m just going to hit some high levels right now and then, you get to fill in the blanks.
So, the first thing that I want you to do when planning your meals for the week is go through your fridge or pantry and determine which foods are going to be expiring. One thing that I hear from a lot of folks is that they don’t like buying vegetables because the vegetables go bad. And the reason that vegetables go bad is because we don’t eat them.
Now, oftentimes, we don’t the vegetables that are in our refrigerator because they haven’t been prepped. And so, what I mean by that is that if you buy a whole stock of broccoli, you’re not going to want to cut that up because it’s a pain in the butt. So, you can either buy precut broccoli florets, they’re a little bit more expensive. However, if you eat them, it’s not going to be more expensive than if you buy a stock of broccoli and throw that away. Okay? So, you may need to get some help from the grocery store and that’s totally fine.
The other thing that you can do, if you cannot stomach buying the precut broccoli is cut it up when you get home from the store. It takes a little bit more due diligence, but having the pre-cut broccoli for you to use, to put in stir fries, or salads, or whatever is going to help you in the long run. Okay? So, really trying to get into that lower brain thinking of, why am I not eating the broccoli? And really trying to what’s called reduced friction, so that you set yourself up for success, you set your future self-up for success.
Okay, so once you’ve gone through the pantry and you’ve started to notice, “oh, I need to use up that broccoli, or I need to use up those that asparagus.” Or “oh, that’s right, I had some chicken in here that I need to cook.” So, just make a mental note of that and then, the next thing is to look at your schedule to determine, how much prep time you have each night to prepare your meals? Okay? So, look and see, like from going from work, to dinner, do I have kid’s activities, or do I have meetings after work, or do I have a crunch time?
Is there some reason that I would be able to spend more time dedicated to preparing dinner that night or less time? And so, really trying to work with yourself. Now, here’s the other thing is, I highly suggest that you have a set of recipes that you and your family enjoy. And then, as you’re starting to build your recipe box, don’t add more than one new recipe per week, because then it can feel really overwhelming. And then, after you’ve made that recipe, decide, do we want to keep that in rotation? Do I want to try it again one or two more times before I decide? Or what do I want to do next? Okay?
So, again, look at your schedule to determine how much prep time you have each night to prepare your meals. And then, the third step is look at the weather forecast for the upcoming week. Now, this is really going to be important when the weather starts changing. So, for example, if you’re in winter and you’ve decided that for the week, you’re going to make all of these real hurdy soups and stews, and then the weather changes and it gets hot, you’re not going to want to eat those things.
Same thing, if you’ve decided that you’re going to make all of these really light things like salads, and finger foods, and things like that. You are going to want to make sure that the weather doesn’t get cold and rainy because you’re not going to want to eat those things.
So, look at the weather forecast and figure out, how is it going to change, and do I need to adjust my meal plan for the week based on that information?
Step number four is think about your moods. So, this goes back to schedule step number two, look at your schedule to determine how much prep time you have. Because what I find is that at the beginning of the week, I feel more motivated to make more robust meals, things like roasts or complex dinners. I generally have a lot more energy and focus to make more complex things. And then, as the week goes on, I get more casual in my eating style.
So, by the end of the week, we’re having things more like burgers, or tacos, or sandwiches, or things like that, that you can eat with your hands that are a little bit more casual. And so, just be aware of what your moods are and which days you have more time to prepare, which days you have less to prepare. And then, also thinking about those leftovers. For example, on Monday, I’ll typically grill a bunch of chicken and then have that throughout the week to put on salads. Or if I grill vegetables on Monday, then making sure that I used that up during the week and I can throw it into other meals.
When you make something, can you make extra, and then use that during the week, and do you like leftovers? So, some people do, some people don’t, but you can also repurpose those foods to go into lunches, or breakfasts, or things like that. Okay? So, that’s just an overview of the meal planning process.
And so, what I want to suggest next is that everyone is going to do something a little bit differently. So, here’s what I’m going to suggest is that, think about it right now like, how many meals do you eat at home? So, how many dinners do you and your family typically prepare? And also, I want to just interject right now that you are not the only one responsible for making your meals. And if you are, think about, are there other people in your family who can start pitching in and how can you give them tasks to help you with meal prep? Okay?
So, thinking about how many meals do you eat at home? So, let’s say that on a normal week, you five meals at home. So, in that case, what I’m going to suggest that you do is go to a calendar or write one out and what I want you to do is I want you to theoretically plan five dinners if that’s how many you typically eat at home.
Now, that does not mean that you have to say on Monday we’re going to eat this, Tuesday we’re going to eat this. If you want to do that, that’s perfectly fine. But you don’t have to. At this point, we just want to make sure that when you go to the grocery store, that your grocery list has all of the ingredients that you need for the week. So then, as you get to the end of the week, you may have one of those meals’ leftover.
So, at that point, what I want you to do is I want you to get curious with yourself, why didn’t that meal get prepared? Is it because your partner came home, and you decided to eat out just as an ad hoc thing? Totally fine, if you did, or was it because you decided to eat something differently? Because that recipe you might’ve been a little bit too complex? So, what was it that made you not eat all of those meals?
And then, the following week, what I want you to do is I want you to take that one meal that you didn’t prepare and move it over into the following week, and then go through the process again. So, then the following, if we’re planning five meals, you’re only going to plan for and bring that fifth meal over from the previous week. And then, do the whole thing again. And if you find that you’re not eating five meals, then the following week, all you have to do is plan for meals. And again, it’s an iterative process.
Figure it out for yourself, figure out how this works for you. And again, I want to reinforce here that when I’m talking about planning, I’m not necessarily talking about preparation. I’m just saying, what does your week look like? What meals are you going to be cooking at home? What meals are you going to be eating out? And what do that kind of look like?
Now, this sets up our process for creating a protocol. And creating a protocol is, how we’re going to be successful long-term? So, thinking back to all of the habits that we’ve been creating since the beginning of this program. So, drinking water, eating vegetables, eating protein, limiting our starch, limiting our treats, eating just enough.
What I want you to start doing is start being really reflective of how those habits make you feel. And then, over the course of the next few weeks, what we’re going to start doing is start creating a meal plan. You are going to create your own meal plan that is going to set you up for success. All right?
So, that’s what I have for you in this video. I’ll see you in the next one. Okay?
1st step in meal planning sounds counter-intuitive: clean out your refrigerator of anything old. Make note of anything that is going to expire in the next week, and if desired, plan that into your meal plan for the upcoming week.
Next look at your schedule, and the schedule of those in your family. This will allow you to determine 1) how much time you have to prepare your meals, but also 2) who will be eating them. On nights when there are fewer folks in the house (or you’re alone), you might want to keep things super simple – but also, you don’t want to over-buy food & end up throwing it out. But also, if you’re strapped for time, it’s important to either take advantage of pre-prepping some of the ingredients so that cooking time is reduced, or having a few super simple, tasty, & fast meals in your recipe book so that you can pull from them when needed
This is important year-round, but especially during the times of the year when the weather changes. No one wants to eat stew when it’s 80 degrees out, nor salad when it’s freezing. Looking at the forecast will allow you to prepare for weather changes & eat meals that are appealing.
I find that I’m more willing to cook fancier meals at the beginning of the week, and tend to get more casual as the week progresses. So, at the beginning of the week, I might make something more complex, where at the end of the week, I’m more likely to make meals like tacos or burgers.
Leftovers are one of the best & easiest ways to meal prep for the rest of the week. This tip is more about the quantity of your meals you prep (and it might take a bit to get a handle on this, or it can change depending on your habits).
For example: if you grill chicken breasts on Monday, does it make sense to grill extra to use on salads, bowls, or wraps for lunches during the week? Again this goes back to your schedules & eating habits. If you tend to eat out on the weekends, chances are that you’re not going to want to have a lot of food in your fridge – so you won’t want to grill a large batch of chicken on Wednesday or Thursday.