It’s no secret that I have struggled with meal planning.
In times of high stress, it’s always the first thing to get binned off for me.
In fact, you could probably take a pretty good inventory of my current stress level at any given time by opening my fridge and seeing how out of date any fresh food is – or if there’s any in there at all.
It’s an embarrassing thing for a personal trainer and nutrition coach to admit.
I sometimes feel like this is something I should have cracked 100% by now.
I remember telling my mother that one of the interventions that I use with clients when they’re feeling overwhelmed with their diets is the simple question, “have you got any proper food at home right now?”
She looked at me like I was daft.
People pay you for that?!
But I know that it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. That loads of people struggle with their food. Probably more than they struggle with their training.
Myself included. Which is why I can say with confidence that if you struggle with this too – it’s not your fault. It’s a common issue.
When clients tell me that they are struggling, we’ll actually solve the problem. I’ll stop their training session to go with them to do a quick food shop.
It’s a problem we can make progress on pretty simply.
You see, nothing needs to be perfect to be good.
You don’t need a perfect training plan. You don’t need a perfect diet. You just need one that works for you.
Meal planning – like literally everything – works on a continuum.
On the one hand, you put absolutely no thought whatsoever into what you’ll be eating next, let alone the rest of the day, or the rest of the week. The decision about what to eat doesn’t occur to you until you’re already hungry and might involve grabbing something from a fast food drive-through because right now you’re ravenous.
On the other hand, you might spend one whole morning out of your weekend food shopping, writing family menus for the week, and batch cooking food to store in little labelled tupperware pots. You leave nothing to chance. Nothing passes your lips without it being weighed, measured, and tracked in MyFitnessPal.
Between these two extremes though, there is so much room for progress.
It could mean browsing the restaurant menu before you arrive and making a choice before you get to be screaming hungry.
For more on this, ask me about my high street survival guides.
It might mean ordering a side salad as well as your regular meal. When this gets easy, maybe order it instead of your chips.
It might mean prepping your breakfasts for the week in advance and just winging it for the other meals.
It might mean including steam bags of veg that you can tolerate and mixing them through each time you cook rice. Don’t worry about the variety of veg for now, and don’t worry about not cooking everything with dirt on that takes a month to peel.
This is about removing barriers and doing just a little bit better. These choices can really add up, but individually they don’t take a great deal of planning or effort.
This week, I am working on an old classic for me: I want to eat at home more often than I eat out. I am such a lazy cook that I’ll buy a Subway on my way into Tesco.
I want to know what you’re going to do this week – what 1 change you can make that isn’t going to take a heap of effort – to move the needle just a tiny bit on that continuum.