Today, I would like share with you the “Best Guide to Start a Successful Meal Plan & Lose Weight” because when it comes losing weight, your food 80% to your success.
Now the beauty about meal planning is there are no rules, and you can’t really mess it up. The key is to just start, keep experimenting and eventually you will find your own style and what works best for you.
So to help you get started, I’ve broken down some of the basics into 5 practical steps. Grab a pen and paper, and take down these key points.
1) Assess your eating situation
This is crucial, as you need to be honest with yourself, take the time to reflect and ask yourself these questions:
- In a week, how often do you cook at home? Or eat home-cooked food by your parents?
- In a week, how often do you eat out? If so, where do you tend to eat?
- How many meals do you eat in a day? Is it 3 meals or 5 meals?
- What makes up your typical meal? For instance, is it pasta or rice with chicken, veggies, sandwiches, fried noodles or fast food. Be specific and list everything down.
- What do you think make your eating habit less healthy, hence causing the weight to pile on?
It is important to be honest with yourself because before we can fix the problem, we have to know what the problem is.
In order to start a successful meal plan and lose weight, you have to figure out your “stumbling block”, basically the main issue that destroys all your good intention. Be specific about it, because in the 2nd step, we want to “Find Your Style & Take Baby Steps”.
2) Find Your Style & Take Baby Steps
Change is hard. I don’t expect, in fact I don’t want you to make huge changes to your current eating habits, because you are more likely to set yourself up for failure.
Your ultimate goal is to establish new healthy eating habits that can be sustained for a lifetime. The best way is to make small gradual changes to your current eating patterns and just allow yourself time to adapt and get used to the new habits day by day. There’s no dateline to this, remember this is for life!
So I’m going to list down 5 most common reasons people tend to give themselves and fail on their meal plan:
1) I have NO time to cook
2) I eat well, but I crave for junks & desserts, and then overindulge.
3) I can’t afford to eat healthy
4) I work late night shifts and can’t stick to a meal plan
5) I don’t know how to cook
Which of these sound familiar to you?
I have NO time to cook
Well if this is your reason and you tend to eat out on all your meals or opt for takeaways, look at your schedule and take the effort to see how you can change that. Perhaps start by prepping either one or 2 meals at home rather than eating out on all your meals.
If you work and only get back in the evening, well, you can start your day by having breakfast at home, lunch can be eating out with your colleagues and dinner can be eating in.
When you are eating out, be more aware, take initiative to make healthier choices and eat smaller portion because serving sizes tend to be bigger than what we should be having. You don’t have to finish everything on your plate, listen to your body and eat until just satisfied. Your body is not a waste dump! Pack the rest up and you can even have the leftovers for dinner.
On the other hand, making your own meals should NOT be time consuming or complicated. I have lots of breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes, which take less than 20 minutes to prep. Because you have a busy schedule, I would highly encourage you to prep your meals in bulk over the weekends, store them in the fridge and you can have them for the next 2 – 3 days.
This is one of the best steps you can follow because when you are back from work feeling tired and hungry, you already have a home-cooked healthy meal in your fridge ready to be eaten.
So it is just about taking the time, once or twice a week to plan your meals and stop the excuse of having no time.
I crave for junks & desserts
The second common reason is I try to eat healthy most days but then I crave for junks or unhealthy desserts. If you fall into this category, I personally find that, yes you are eating healthy but you’re also depriving yourself from what you enjoy.
For me eating a balanced diet isn’t just about eating 100% healthy all the time, instead having cheat meal or ‘naughty treats’ makes up part of your balanced diet.
I like to follow the 80/20 concept. What this means is 80% of the time, you eat clean and healthy, and the remaining 20% you’re allowed to indulge in moderation.
You can either choose to follow this concept on a daily / weekly basis. So for almost every meal, you should stick to a nutritious diet and allow yourself to one indulgence perhaps in a small muffin, few small blocks of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream.
Although I am giving you the 20% naughty allowance, it is still VERY important to practice MODERATION. Treating yourself to your cravings do not mean ‘Eat All You Can’, you should still practice self-control and remain focus on your ultimate fitness goal.
I personally practice the 80/20 concept because when you know you can be a little looser with your diet, and treat yourself to those forbidden foods, you’re more likely to stay motivated and to stay on track with your goals.
I can’t afford to eat healthy
To be perfectly honest, eating healthy is not expensive at all. Here’s the thing, real whole food, which also means unprocessed foods are cheaper and more nutritious than processed foods. Think about it. Is it cheaper to buy your frozen chicken breasts or chicken nuggets? Hence when people say eating healthy is expensive, I always disagree. All the processed food either cost the same or more than the whole food!
And because nowadays, there are too much hype on eating organic food, some of us have the impression that if we don’t buy organic food, we are not eating healthy. Where I stand with this is, be realistic and look at what suits your budget. If you can’t afford it, forget about organic, go basic.
I know some people might disagree with me on this but hey, not everyone can afford organic food. Of course if you have the money, by all means buy organic because they are much natural and better for your body and the environment. But if you are living on a budget, stick to the basic of what you need.
Go for seasonal vegetables and fruits which are cheaper in your country. Choose cheaper meat such as chicken and fish rather than red meat. In fact, buy and eat more vegetables because they cost less than meat. This will save you lots of money, keep you satisfied and at the same time it will trim down your waistline!
I’ve filmed a video on “How I Eat Healthy on a Low Budget”, which I would encourage you to watch for practical tips.
I work late night shifts
The next reason is I work late night shifts and can’t follow a meal plan. When it comes to eating healthy, it doesn’t mean you HAVE to consume 5 meals at this set time in a day. Instead, work with your time. Perhaps your time only permits you to consume 3 larger meals at odd hours, that absolutely fine, and it really shouldn’t be the reason for your weight gain.
Time is not the most important factor here, but rather it is the total amount of food you eat in a day. So if you portion your food, and eat the right amount to what your body needs, you will lose weight. However if you eat more than what you body needs, that’s when the weight starts to pile on.
I don’t know how to cook
Well guys, I did not know how to cook about 5 years ago and till now, I’m still learning. But you know what, that’s the fun part and joy about not knowing, because we never stop learning new things and skills.
Nowadays, there are so many simple recipes online, which we can learn from. You can even start by trying out recipes on my YouTube channel. To me healthy meals equal, simple meals. Hence, I’ve always kept my ingredients and meals really minimal and basic.
Cook one-pot dish instead of turning it into a complicated feast. As you build your confidence, then of course feel free to experiment and try out more dishes. Remember, there’s no right or wrong to cooking.
If you struggling with a different problem, which I haven’t mentioned here, that’s OK; just experiment with different methods until you find something that works for you. You can even mix and match my suggestions, or modifying it until it fits your style perfectly.
The next crucial step is:
3) Clear the Old, Stock the New
Even if you’ve set your mind for change, but your food cupboard and fridge is still packed with junks and processed food, will it isn’t going to help you lose weight.
In order make space for positive changes in your life, you got to be ready to leave behind the old habits. Take this time to go through your food cupboard and fridge and throw out all the food, which you know will sabotage your diet plan.
Once you’ve gotten rid of the old, now, it’s time to write your healthier grocery list. It is crucial to have a grocery list when you do your food shopping because we want to avoid impulse buying. If you go without knowing what you want and just buy whatever that seems to appeal to you, chances are you will end up with more junks than wholesome food.
So roughly plan your meals for the week, make a list and shop with a purpose. If however you have no idea where to start when it comes to food shopping, watch my “7 Must Have in Your Grocery List” video to guide you through.
Stock up on real natural food and avoid or keep the unhealthy snacks to minimum. Personally, I would NOT buy any ‘naughty treats’ because I know if they were in my kitchen, I will tend to eat them. So instead of buying a tub of ice cream, I rather choose to make it an occasion and go out for ice cream with my friends. This would reduce the chance of me indulging on a regular basis.
4) Track your meals (Food Journal)
Just like keeping track of your workout in order to know that you’ve progress, keeping track of your meals will let you know what and how much you’ve eaten and IF you’re stick to your meal plan.
A typical food journal includes the date and time, what you ate or drank, portion size and calories and how did you feel after eating the meal. Be very specific and record everything you ate. I mean EVERYTHING. Most of the time, when we think we are eating the right portion yet not losing weight, chances are, you might be snacking a lot throughout the day without realizing it. So your food journal can be a powerful tool that helps you realize and keep you in control.
Nowadays, our food portion are way bigger than what they should be, which contributes to weight gain. So it’s helpful to know what a typical meal size should look like. I would encourage you to watch these two videos:
1) How to Count Calories to Lose Weight
2) How much should I Eat to Lose Weight?
Plus, there are also lots of “Food & Nutrition” app such as MyFitnessPal, “Lose It” or “The Eatery”, which makes it easy for you to snap pictures, keep track of your meals and calories.
5) Just Do It!
And the last step is Just do it! Watching this video and reading lots of recipes will not make you lose weight. Only by taking action NOW, and create your meal plan according to these steps will you lose weight.
There’s no perfect timing to start because this is a permanent lifestyle change, it is NOT a temporary fad diet. There’s no right or wrong, because you’ll keep experimenting and fine-tune your style. There’s no such a thing as failure, because when you fall, you will pick yourself back up and try again.
I have lots of meal plans and nutrition tips on my channel to guide you through this entire process. Links are at the end of this video.
So JUST DO IT! You’ve got nothing to lose but lots to gain. YOU can transform your body and life just by choosing an inspiring, wholesome and balanced diet. All the best!