I have heard a lot of people tell me that they hate to cook or do not have the time to eat healthy. I used to use the excuse that I did not have time, or I would just give in to my cravings all the time rather than take the time to cook. What I have learned that leading a healthy lifestyle and being successful in taking charge of your health means first and foremost you have to take accountability and ownership of your bad behaviors. Once I stopped blaming my busy lifestyle (spoiler alert - it hasn't gotten any less busy) and really thought about the reasons I was eating poorly I was in the mental mindset to make a lifelong change to be healthy.
Clean eating for me is a state of mind; once I accepted that I had a bad behavior (addiction to sugars and processed foods) and accepted that I alone was the one making those choices, I was able to say 'okay, what do I do about changing this bad habit'. So, what did I do? I started researching Paleo meals because one of my friends had mentioned it helped her, and some friends doing crossfit recommended it for getting lean. Through hours of research, the common theme I found was this - these people were meal prepping!
Meal prepping is what really has made the difference for me in being able to drop about 15 pounds and keep it off for about three years at this point. I dedicate every Sunday morning or afternoon to cook and create a meal plan for the rest of the week. I have every meal from breakfast, snacks and dinner planned out while I am at work. Basically, Monday morning through Friday even has a meal either cooked or the ingredients are in the fridge prepped to be cooked. My office has a gigantic candy bowl, so I have to be prepared in order to not give in to the midday sugar cravings.
MEG'S TIP: I keep a mason jar of unsalted almonds in my desk at work. If you have the space, bring fruit, nut butters, and nuts and keep them in your desk.
Hand in hand with meal prepping is cooking in bulk; get yourself a slow cooker and you will find meal prepping at the beginning of a Whole 30 challenge is significantly easier. I also cook on a budget, so a slow cooker means you can turn a cheaper cut of meat into an otherwise delicious meal that you can spread out over several days. I also have a vacusealer, so that if I cannot eat every thing I cook in one week, I freeze half of it and can pull out a ready made meal when I am in a pinch or short on time.
In short, meal prepping is what really helped me turn the corner to be successful when I am doing a hard core Whole 30 challenge, or when I am just trying hard to avoid making poor food choices. There are a lot of great websites with sample meal plans, so I recommend taking some time to see what other bloggers are doing. Here is a sample of what a week will look like for me:
- Breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs or egg bites
- Lunch: Stir fried spinach and kale topped with turkey chili
- Snack: 1 small apple with tablespoon of nut butter or 1 tablespoon almonds
- Dinner: Carnitas with oven roasted green beans
Have fun with meal prepping, and definitely change up what your meals are so you do not get burned out. Everyone has different tastes, so try new things or tweak recipes to make them how you know you will enjoy them. Clean eating is about having fun; you never know what you will like unless you try it!