I recently marked over 500 days of tracking food in My Fitness Pal.
Some call this dedication .. some might call it obsessive. Either way, I’ve been paying close attention to what I eat and taking time to carefully plan and then prepare my food for the week for a lot longer than those 500 days.
How long have I been planning, tracking and prepping?
Years. So long I can’t tell you exactly when I started. I know I’ve been on MFP pretty consistently since 2012.
I was meal planning and weekly food prepping long before that.
I am not on a plan. This is my lifestyle.
And because I’ve been so successful at maintaining this lifestyle and coaching my clients into it as well, I realized I had a system that can help many others, beyond just my clients.
Before we even begin talking about planning and prepping, we need to cover some basics.
Let’s start with why healthy eating is important. Why do it in the first place?
Beyond the concept of wanting to lose weight or have a certain body shape, size and appearance, our bodies need many nutrients, vitamins and minerals to function properly. It keeps us from getting sick, developing chronic conditions and generally feeling bad.
Bottom line – if you want to be healthy you’ve got to eat healthy.
Whether you want to or not, you know you need to. But what is “healthy” anyway? Here’s what it means, according to the FDA (the federal agency which regulates food laws & legislation):
- Focus on “nutrient-dense” foods like fresh vegetables and fruits, lean animal proteins like meat and poultry, whole grains and oils derived from vegetables and seeds like olive oil or coconut oil.
- Limit the number of processed foods in your diet, as well as frozen and canned foods high in sodium, avoiding foods high in added sugars, and staying away from trans fats and oils made from animal fat.
- The FDA uses a system called “My Plate” to explain how you can divide your meals by food groups in order to keep them healthy and balanced.
- Consume at least 25grams of fiber each day, limit added sugars to less than 50 grams a day and keep daily sodium intake under 2300 mg.
Knowing these numbers is one thing, but actually sticking to them is another.
Rather than focusing so much on numbers, focus more on the source of your food. Was it made in a factory? How many ingredients does it have? Does it contain vitamins and minerals? What and how many? Are you eating foods with enough fiber?
An easy rule to remember: If you can’t grow it or kill it, the food probably isn’t healthy.”
A common issue for many people is becoming overwhelmed by the feeling that they don’t know “what to eat.” These guidelines make it simple. It does not have to be complicated and there are no tricks or magic foods.
Eat mostly fresh, whole foods. Eat a balance of many food groups and know where your food comes from. Do not over eat.
Pretty simple really.