Often it feels as if the food that’s good for you doesn’t taste good. Healthy meal planning can seem like the worst punishment, and trying to lose weight can feel like an overwhelming task.
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However, what you eat is one of the most important aspects of any weight loss plan, which is why healthy eating and meal planning is so important.
Do A Little Research
One of the main reasons why people are not successful with their weight loss meal planning is because they do not understand what foods are really healthy. Most foods that say “low fat,” or claim to be healthy, are not.
According to the National Institutes of Health, studies have shown that processed food accounts for more than 60 percent of the calories found in products that Americans generally buy at the grocery store. Researchers have shown that processed foods often contain more fat, sugar and salt.
The American Heart Association provides a helpful group of foods that not only help control weight, but are also very nutritious. It also gives a great explanation of so-called healthy foods and the importance of including them in your daily diet. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats such as nuts are a few items that they recommend.
Planning Your Meals
First sit down and figure out how much you want to spend at the grocery store. It might be helpful to try to decide whether you plan to grocery shop every week, every other week or even once a month.
One of the main problems that people comment about trying to eat healthy is that it can be too expensive. However by understanding what you really have to spend, you can be more realistic about the items that you can buy and how you can spread you money out to make it last.
Go through your kitchen and take a quick inventory of what you have, that way you don’t spend money on things you already have. Using coupons, taking advantage of sales or even growing your own fruits and vegetables are simple ways to save money.
Now here comes the exciting part: Actually planning your meals. Now that you understand the foods that can be included, you can actually sit down and get to planning. If you are planning meals for your entire family, think about the things that your family will eat.
Who is allergic to what, and what kid doesn’t like what? It is better to plan for a whole week or a few days to make grocery shopping much easier. To save money and time, choose ingredients that can be used for several meals.
Chicken and fish such as salmon and lean meats are not only tasty and healthy but can also be prepared in many different ways. They can be grilled, baked, boiled and served with a variety of sides. Add a nice salad or some vegetables for a quick and easy meal. Beans are another great and economical choice. Make items such as black bean soup or even chili to mix things up.
Plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a part of each meal. Watch out for certain types of canned fruits and vegetables that can be highly processed, full of salt and sugar and very unhealthy. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides some great tips on the amount of fruit, vegetables and other foods that you should consume on a daily basis.
Look on the Internet and in recipe books to find different recipes to help keep things interesting. One of the hardest parts of meal planning is actually finding different ways to cook the same food.
Don’t forget about dessert. Weight loss doesn’t mean you have to cut out dessert completely, it simply means choose your dessert wisely. Eat your daily allotment of fruit for dessert instead of that fat and sugar-riddled ice cream or piece of cake.
Put Your Plan Into Action
Remember that too much of anything, even healthy food, can be hazardous to your health. Some people don’t like to count calories, but it’s important to pay attention to the amount of sugar and sodium to ensure you are not sabotaging your weight loss goals.
Change things up and always be on the lookout for new recipes and ways to add a little excitement to your meals. When you get bored or tempted, remember the benefits of reaching your weight loss goals.
Write your weight loss goals down and keep them in a drawer or even posted on the refrigerator so that you can look at them anytime you get discouraged. Happy planning.