So in part 1 I hopefully provided some basic nutrition education which has maybe changed the way you perceive your diet. I guess what I was trying to get across the eating is good and food is good, you just need to know what to pick. Healthy is not a size 6, 8, 10 etc. Health is …
‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ Thanks World Health Organisation. So to be healthy you must take actions to be in physically, mental and social good health.
Nutrition plays a part in this; it would be naive to think we can literally eat whatever we like and expect to be illness free/not obese/mentally stable. But we can’t. Physical activity is also imperative – but we’ve got that down thanks to GRWK. Lastly, happiness is key for the mind, so always aim to be first and foremost happy (big picture happy not chocolate bar happy). Now, before we get into the nitty gritty of a meal plan here are some bits and bobs you’ll need in order to achieve a balanced diet.
- You’ll need to plan and shop in advance. I find a weekly planner helps, you can write out what you’re going to eat and then make a shopping list from this meals.
- I find shopping online very useful. Whilst carrying all those bags might be good for your arm muscles shopping online saves time, you can do it when you plan the weeks meals and there is less temptation to make on the spot (poor) choices in the supermarket.
- Meal prep is going to become a thing. It’s not just for bodybuilders and athletes; get yourself some tuppaware. I love Sistema stuff. Bright colours and really clever compartmentalising to make life easier (plus everyone will have tuppaware envy when you crack it out at work).
- Invest in some cookbooks or get online and broaden your repertoire. Jamie’s 30 min meals are good although you may have to adapt some ingredients (and it takes longer than 30) and Deliciously Ella has some fab stuff for people that are GF. Why not aim to cook one new recipe a month.
Now you’re armed with some top tips let’s write a meal plan. Diaries at the ready.
Question 1: What have you got on this week? Work out how many meals you’ll be making and for how many people. Remember to factor in extra if you plan on taking in leftovers for lunch. Also know what you have to work with at work – is there a microwave? If not, you’ll be on cold food or buy a food thermos (they’re amazing).
Question 2: What dinners do you want to cook? Using the information you’ve just worked out pick the according number of dinners – list the ingredients you need to buy as you go.
Question 3: Lunches… what am I going to make for lunch? It probably won’t be leftovers everyday (up to you). Make sure you have plenty of snacks too. Buy in bulk e.g. large pots of humus/yoghurt and use your tuppaware to decant as it’s so much cheaper! Plan this all in – and list the ingredients you need to buy as you go.
Question 4: What am I having for breakfast? If like me you like the same everyday easy just ensure you’ve got plenty to last. But if you need some variation or you have breakfast not the go some days you might need to think about what that looks like and plan it. Remember to list the ingredients as you go.
I bet this seems like a total hassle at the moment. I guess it is daunting to start with, it’s a lot to consider especially if there are kids/other half’s involved. But the first time will be the worst. Once you’ve done it once things will be more routine. Especially if you shop online as your list will save and you can just edit.
Here’s an example.
So now you’ve got your plan and your list. Get it bought and then make sure you spend a little time every evening getting your packed lunch including snacks ready for work. To help you here are ten(!) recipes for protein balls as promised in part 1. I’d recommend using powdered milk rather than protein powder though – cheaper!
And lastly, some tips for eating out. Because we’ve still got to live. You can either treat yourself (woo) or you can just make a considered choice if you wish to remain on the nutritious line.
- Italian – try to avoid cured meats such as salami, go for a thinner base, ask for reduced fat cheese, don’t double up with garlic bread. Italians do lovely fish – why not go for fish instead of pizza/pasta.
- Mexican – stick with good protein, avoid too much cheese (maybe just on one course if you can’t resist nachos!), go for the guac – if it’s a good restaurant it’ll be homemade and full of avocado goodness.
- American – tricky…. go for the grill, avoid the cheese, bacon and sauce laden burgers (go plain if you don’t have a burger alternative). Ask for jacket potato instead of fries (skinny fries are better).
- Thai – avoid tempura and crackers – go for sushi, fish dishes and seafood.
- Indian – a tricky one! Avoid naans, poppadoms and overly saucy curries e.g. korma. Go for dry curries, tandoori chicken and have a small portion of rice.
- Chinese – chop suey is a fab choice, as are stir fry dishes. Avoid sweet and sour sauce, anything fried!
Really good supermarket buys:
- Fage total 0% yoghurt – high in protein, low in sugar (win). A super versatile food.
- Meridian nut butter – tons of variety, good fats and not too processed
- Kallo rice cakes as an alternative to oat cakes
- Frozen berries – cheaper and last longer
- Dates – essential for your protein balls
- Value/Basic oats – there is no difference
- Propercorn or Metcalfes Skinny popcorn – loads of interesting flavours!
A real quick note on drinks which I have barely mentioned. For hydration: milk is scientifically proven to be the best. If you’re a tea/coffee drinker try to stick to 2-3 a day and get on the fruit tea train thereafter. Water or diluting juice is the safest bet during the day; aim for 2-3 litres. Dehydration makes you hungry, stressed and tired so don’t let it happen. And … alcohol. It’s mostly calorific and it dehydrates you; BUT it is for the majority a part of life and tastes nice. So drink in moderation; vodka tonic, G+T are the most calorie friendly drinks; wine and beer will make you pay.
And that’s part 2. I hope it is useful. I do not expect anyone to follow the meal plan; it is merely an example. Every plate should have a balance of protein, carb and fat – all the good stuff! Eating regularly and in sensible quantities combined with regular exercise will set you up nicely health wise- make it a lifestyle. Please feel free to share any recipes and rate the protein balls you make!
Good luck, remember preparation is key!