Meal Planning for Weight Loss
Weight loss comes down to a few things, the most important being planning. No matter how excitedly we start anything, planning is what pulls through when resolve wanes. What we eat matters, but there are two sides of this conversation.
Today we are going to talk about mindful weight loss and meal planning, and how understanding the fundamentals of both will help you, not only, lose weight BUT also rise to your healthiest and highest self.
I say it all the time, weight loss is a result of bringing mindfulness to your eating practice and meal planning requires the same mindfulness.
Before you can set out to plan a stitch of food, understand your skill level- are you a mess in the kitchen? You must understand your desire level, so ask yourself, do you hate cooking? At no point should you try to make yourself fit into a box you aren’t shaped for.
Knowing yourself, your abilities and what you have in you is essential to meal planning success.
MEAL PLANNING FOR WEIGHT LOSS: BREAKFAST
There is much ado about breakfast, but breakfast has been taken and commandeered by the cereal industry but breakfast simply means to BREAK-the-FAST, because this is what we do while we sleep. Breakfast is not assigned a time, that is simply programming to get you to believe you need to break your fast upon waking, with their products of course!
Now let’s talk planning breakfast…
Breakfast should ALWAYS be made ahead. Especially if you are a traditionalist and must eat upon rising; I don’t suggest making breakfast- from scratch- in the am, but I also don’t presume to know your life.
THINK smoothies, granolas, breakfast cookies...these things can all be made ahead and taken on the go.
Watch for sugar, because how you start your day is how it will go; meaning, if you condition your tastebuds to want sweet in the morning, it will want sweet all day.
The NON-SWEET options are eggs...eggs are great, so are things like bulletproof coffee, which is a great option for those who find eating first thing challenging - yes this is considered a breakfast because of the calorie density.
ALMOND BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp almond butter
3/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
optional: 1-2 Tbsp protein powder
Blend blueberries, almond butter, flaxseed meal and almond milk in a blender until creamy and smooth. Protein powder is optional (just know it will affect the flavor/sweetness).
MAKE AHEAD: blend a double batch. Freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen store in the freezer in Ziploc bags.
TO SERVE: blend 3 cubes with 1 cup of milk or water (more if needed), and drink immediately.
MEAL PLANNING FOR WEIGHT LOSS: LUNCH
Prepare a mess of items. 2 sauces, 2 vegetables ( 1 fresh, 1 cooked), 2 meats or proteins, and 2 grains, and then rotate the meals throughout the week. It doesn’t look like a lot but the combinations you can create are endless throughout your week.
Create 2-3 fully prepared meals, that just require reheating, these will feel more leftover-y as the week progresses, but if this doesn’t bother you, this is a great option.
MEAL PLANNING FOR WEIGHT LOSS: DINNER
Dinner is handled a lot like lunch. I recommend a bunch of prep that assembles easily as needed; because this buys you time throughout the week and ensures you aren’t pulling up to the take-out window, thwarting your weight loss efforts.
2 large zucchini
1⁄2 pack quinoa pasta, cooked
2 cups of fresh basil
1⁄4 cup of raw cashews
2-3 garlic cloves
1⁄4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1⁄4 cup of shredded parmesan
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1⁄3 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
In a food processor, add garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons olive oil, pepper, and cashews. Process until smooth.
Add nutritional yeast, parmesan and salt and process to combine. Add basil and 1/4 cup olive oil and process again. Finally, add lemon juice and process until combined. Set the pesto aside until you’re ready to combine with zucchini and quinoa noodles.
Chop about 1/2′′ off both ends of the zucchini and using a peeler, create long, pasta-like threads.
Once you’ve finished noodling the zucchini, add zoodles, chicken and cooked quinoa pasta to a large bowl and mix in the pesto until well-coated.
Serve, hot or cold.
MAKE AHEAD: Prepare the pesto ahead and freeze in ice cube trays. TO SERVE: Toss pesto with hot pasta and zucchini pasta.
RAPID FIRE OF MEAL PLANNING TIPS
RECIPES- choose recipes with short ingredient lists. Read through recipes thoroughly, if at any point you think “huh”, this is not a recipe for you.
KITCHEN- clean your kitchen, arrange it for as little movement as possible, meaning everything is within arms reach.
CLEAN- empty cupboards, pantry and refrigerator and throw out anything old or mysterious- make room for the food you are about to prepare. Check out your food storage situation and match up the tupperware; anything that is lidless or a lid without a match, gets recycled.
Half of the trouble with meal planning is people ONLY think of the food, but there is a whole framework around meal planning, that if thought of, can make the whole process easier.