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Planning is key for healthier eating

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You've probably heard this old saying countless times: if you fail to plan, you're planning to fail. Yet when it comes to eating healthy and trying to drop some excess pounds, nothing could be more true. Preparation really is everything.

It's no surprise that among the numerous people I've worked with over the years, the ones who have the most success and who hit their goals and sustain their weight loss long term are also the ones who put the effort into planning their nutrition properly.

I know what you're thinking, that meal planning and prepping all sounds a bit tedious and time-consuming and you don't have a clue where to start, right?

You don't have to spend your whole weekend looking for obscure foods in the grocery store or slaving away in the kitchen.

Follow my simple strategies for meal preparation success, and you'll not only save lots of time, but you'll stay consistent with your diet and see the progress and results you're after, too.

Make a weekly menu

Just like you schedule things in your diary for the week ahead, do the same with your food. Take a little time one day a week — my preferred day is a Sunday — to figure out all your meals for the next seven days and write them down.

This not only helps you to stay on top of your nutrition and ensures your meals are in alignment with your goals, but it will also sway you from making less than healthy spur-of-the-moment decisions, such as at the end of a long day when you are unsure of what to eat and are not motivated to cook.

I also like to post my weekly meal plan somewhere visible, such as on my refrigerator door, so I can clearly see what I should be eating and when.

Set aside two or three hours to prep and cook

As well as taking a little time to plan your weekly menu, I recommend blocking out a couple of hours to cook up your meals for the week.

Vegetables can all be washed, chopped and put into air-tight food bags ready for when you need them. Chicken breasts and other cuts of meat can be pre-cooked and stored in air-tight containers in the fridge for two or three days.

A large portion of rice or quinoa can be cooked in one go and split into enough portions for the week.

Dry oats and breakfast cereals can be weighed out and pre-portioned into mason jars or Tupperware containers.

Chopped fruit can also be portioned out, put into air-tight bags and stashed in the freezer. These are then easy to grab and chuck in a blender for when you make a smoothie or shake.

Snacks can be prepared in advance, too, such as weighing out individual portion sizes of nuts and seeds, or making a batch of protein balls.

If you're not a gourmet chef like me — trust me, really, I'm not — and dread the idea of cooking for a couple of hours, try putting on your favourite podcast or listening to some music and dancing your way around the kitchen as you prep. I guarantee the time will soon fly by.

Prepare dishes in batches

One of the best time-saving and convenient things you can do is to prepare one or two “big pot dishes” that can be portioned into individual sizes and either stored in the refrigerator or frozen.

These can then quickly and easily be re-heated as and when you need them. Healthy curries, stews and dishes such as turkey chilli are perfect for making in big batches and freezing.

Invest in some Tupperware

It goes without saying, but you're going to need some storage containers to accommodate all the good food you've been busy prepping.

I like to use containers that perfectly fit a single portion size, this way I know I'm getting the quantities right and I won't be tempted to over-indulge.

Invest in some kitchen scales

While I don't think it's necessary to precisely weigh every last morsel of food all the time, one of the biggest mistakes I see people make is inaccurately guessing portion sizes.

It's easily done, so take out the guesswork and use some scales to learn what correct portion sizes really look like.

No matter how good you are at sticking to eating the right foods, if you're eating them in the wrong quantities for your energy requirements, yor progress will stall and you likely won't see the results you want.

So, when you first start meal prepping, weigh foods to re-train your eyes to recognise correct portion sizes. Do this consistently for a while and, over time, you'll intuitively know what the right amount looks like.

Meal planning and preparation can take a little time to get used to, but really are worth it if you are serious about overhauling your nutrition and trying to lose some weight. My advice, as always, is to persevere.

However, if you're still struggling with your fitness and weight-loss goals and need an exercise and nutrition plan that will get you back on track, why not join my next 21-Day Kick Start? Log on to www.beckywrightfitness.com to sign up and get more details.

Becky Wright is a qualified personal trainer, nutritional therapist and international bikini fitness champion. She has worked with clients worldwide, including royalty. Contact her at www.beckywrightfitness.com or becky@beckywrightfitness.com

Be exact: fitness expert and nutritional therapist Becky Wright advises weighing portion sizes rather than guessing
Proper meal prep: chopped fruit and veg can be stored in air-tight bags in the fridge or freezer until needed

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Published August 17, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 17, 2016 at 9:19 am)

Planning is key for healthier eating

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