yellow and red round fruit on brown and white weighing scale

Is 1200 Calories Enough?

Is 1200 calories enough? If you spend time on social media, you may be a bit confused on this issue. On the one hand there is a crowd that is vehement that 1200 is plenty (it’s actually a hashtag). And on the other hand, you can find loads of posts about how 1200 is sufficient for a toddler. So which is true?

(Click here if you’d prefer to listen to this instead of reading it)

Content Warning: Discussion of calorie restriction, dieting, and weight loss

To answer whether 1200 calories is enough, let’s look at an example of calorie restriction from the past. During WWII, researchers conducted the Minnesota Starvation Experiment in which study participants underwent 6 months of strict and heavily monitored calorie restriction. As a result of that starvation period, researchers noted the following changes in study participants: decreased energy, increased fatigue, increased moodiness, decreased libido, decreased energy and strength (~20%), slowed heart rate and decreased heart size, and decreased blood volume. They also noted that participants developed an obsession with food. Participants talked incessantly about food, dreamed about food, and ate painstakingly slowly so as to make each meal last as long as possible.

During the re-feeding period that followed, researchers noted that participants regained the weight they lost but it took much longer for them to regain the lean body mass they started with. As a result, by the time participants regained that lean body mass, they weighed more than they did before the study.

The results of this study lead one to believe that these participants were hardly eating anything at all. But, on the contrary, they were consuming about 1550 calories per day.

How many calories per day should an adult consume?

From this we can surmise that if 1550 calories per day elicited that response, then 1200 calories per day certainly can’t be much better.

So if 1200 is not enough, then how many calories should an adult consume per day? According to the FDA, adults assigned male at birth ages 21-35 should consume 2400-3000 calories per day. After the age of 40, the FDA recommends 2200-2800 calories per day. For adults assigned female at birth ages 26-50, the FDA recommends 1800-2200 calories per day. How many an individual should consume within those ranges depends on factors such as: body size, activity level, underlying conditions, goals, etc.

What about weight loss?

We typically see 1200 calories set as a limit in low calorie diets. However, you do not have to stick to 1200 calories to lose weight. You simply must maintain a small calorie deficit, meaning consume fewer calories than your body uses. Please note, that weight loss is not as simple as calories in < calories out, however, as factors such as hormone status, hydration, underlying conditions, environmental factors, and more exert an influence on our weight. However, you do need a calorie deficit to lose weight.

I have several issues with 1200 calorie diets. First, it is extremely difficult to obtain the nutrition your body needs in just 1200 calories per day. Second, that few calories will not only leave you hungry, it’s just not sustainable. Our bodies respond to intense calorie restriction like this by reacting as though we are starving. That reaction includes slowing down our metabolic processes and also enacting a series of responses that drive us to find and consume food. As a result, you can only maintain a low calorie diet for so long before you overeat or binge. This is why dieters experience weight and diet cycling. Those periods of intense restriction AKA dieting can only be sustained for so long. And when they end, the dieter regains the weight they lost (and then some) and starts a new restrictive diet. And so on and so forth.

If you seek intentional weight loss, I recommend working with a professional who can set an appropriate caloric goal personal to you.

clean clear cold drink

Does the alkaline diet work?

Does the alkaline diet work? Is it safe? How does it work? Here is what you need to know.

What is the alkaline diet?

The alkaline diet is based on the debunked theory that the foods we eat can alter our body’s pH. Essentially, eating acidic foods decreases your body’s pH (making it more acidic) and that makes it a more amenable environment for cancer and other health conditions. Additionally, alkaline diet proponents claim that acidic foods leave behind “acid ash” in your body which promotes conditions like osteoporosis.

In order to promote better health, the alkaline dieter severely restricts or eliminates “acidic” foods like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol. Neutral foods like ‘natural” fats, starches, and sugars, and basic or alkaline foods like fruits, nuts, legumes, and veggies are OK.

The alkaline diet emerged in the 90s as the creation of a man named Robert Young who claimed the diet could treat cancer. He was later sued and arrested for practicing medicine without a license. So…that says something about his diet creation.

Is it safe?

The alkaline diet comes with its share of risks, as does any diet that requires you to eliminate large numbers of foods from your diet. The most obvious risk is nutrient deficiency, such as iron, B12, B6, and protein. In addition to the issues that deficiencies in those nutrients can cause, there is also a risk of muscle loss with this diet as well.

Does the alkaline diet work?

The short answer is no. You simply cannot change your body’s pH with the foods you eat and that’s a good thing! The pH of our blood falls between 7.35-7.45 and the pH of our cells falls between 7.0-7.4. So our body’s pH is actually already slightly alkaline! That pH MUST stay within that range or else our cells cannot function properly. You can’t alter your body’s pH with food. If it were that easy, we would all die.

There is 0 scientific evidence to back up the alkaline diet. In fact, the WHO actually advises against the consumption of alkaline water.

Proponents often claim the alkaline diet promotes weight loss. However, any weight lost during the alkaline diet does not result from a change in body pH but rather an increase in produce consumption, which is less caloric. You can eat more produce without eliminating large swathes of foods from your diet and risking nutrient deficiency.

So the short answer to the question “does the alkaline diet work” is a resounding no.

baguette bakery blur bread

Why Low-Carb Diets Don’t Work

  • Low carb diets don’t work for effective, lasting weight loss
  • They come with several side effects

The 80s-90s had the low-fat craze and the 2000s have the low-carb craze. Proponents of low-carb and ketogenic diets proclaim their remarkable ability to help you lose weight fast, but, when really looked at, those claims simply don’t hold water.

About Low-Carb Diets

There have been a number of iterations on low-carb diets over the years – from the Atkins Diet to South Beach to the latest craze, ketogenic diets. The basic premise of them is that consuming carbohydrates makes you gain weight and so, if you cut down on carbs, you’ll lose weight. These diets range in their approach from only making certain “types” of carbs off-limits to limiting your overall carb intake in order to achieve ketosis, a state in which your body relies on fat for energy rather than glucose.

The Problems with Low-Carb Diets

How Low-Carb Weight Loss Works

Nearly everyone who has done a low-carb diet says: 1. they plateaued at a certain point and couldn’t get the scale to budge from there, and 2. once they started eating carbs again they gained all their weight back and then some.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like an effective diet to me.

In fact, numerous scientific studies have shown that low-carb and ketogenic diets are no more effective at creating weight loss than any other diet out there. In other words, just like any other diet on the market, it works for a short time but then, inevitably, you will regain the weight you lost.

So why is this?

One of the things that people love about low-carb diets is that they see a big drop in their weight very quickly. To understand why that is, we need a little science lesson.

Glucose is our body’s preferred energy source. When we eat, our body breaks down our food into smaller chemical units, including glucose. Of that glucose, what we immediately need gets used for energy and what we don’t need immediately, gets stored in our body for later in the form of glycogen. Here’s the clincher: for every gram of glycogen stored in our body, 3-4 grams of water is stored with it.

And so, when we restrict or eliminate carbs, our bodies burn through our glycogen stores, releasing that water which then passes out of our body. What does this mean? That exciting weight loss that happens when you start a low-carb diet is just water weight. Hence weight loss quickly slows down on low-carb diets and you will regain weight as soon as you start eating carbs again. This also contributes to that plateau effect I mentioned earlier.

What about the rest of the weight loss?

After that initial drop in water weight, the rest of the weight loss from low carb diets comes from the same source as any other diet: calorie deficit. That’s right, carbs don’t make you gain weight.

By removing or restricting an entire macronutrient from your diet, you are consuming fewer calories without even thinking about it.

And it follows that, once you start to each carbs again, you will come out of that calorie deficit and regain the weight you lost. This also explains the plateauing that many low-carbers experience: our bodies adapt to calorie restriction by slowing down our metabolism. Calorie restriction to our bodies is famine and starvation, so they compensate to try to keep up alive by becoming more efficient with less fuel – as happens with any other low-calorie diet.

Sustainability

Think back to a time you wanted something and someone told you that you couldn’t have it. How did you react?

You wanted it even more, right?

That is how our bodies respond to restriction and deprivation as well. Remember that your body is designed to keep you alive. When you start restricting its energy source through calorie and carb restriction, it panics that it doesn’t have what it needs to keep you alive. And so it mobilizes every tactic it has to compel you to find and consume food. You think about food. You crave certain foods. Smelling food makes you salivate. Your stomach grumbles and aches. You find it harder and harder to resist.

And so we can only hold out on restrictive diets for so long. And then when we go back to our old eating habits. It’s just not effective strategy in the long-term.

Side Effects of Low Carb Diets

Many people don’t realize there are some unpleasant side effects that come with low-carb diets.

You may have heard of “keto fog” referring to a feeling of absentmindedness or difficulty focusing while on a low-carb diet. This occurs because glucose is your brain’s preferred fuel source and it does not burn fat for fuel efficiently. If you deprive your brain of its most efficient fuel, it’s not going to work as well.

Many low-carb dieters also report fatigue and crankiness. The former is also related to the lack of an efficient fuel source for your body. And the latter, well…have you ever had a carbohydrate? They’re delicious. I’d be cranky without them, too.

There are also concerns about the long-term health effects of low-carb and ketogenic diets.

The state of ketosis is, in fact, a survival mechanism to keep our vital processes going during periods of famine. The human body is not designed to exist in ketosis for any extended period of time. Thus, many health professionals are concerned about the long-term effects this may have on our health. This is a focus on ongoing study.

Finally, studies have shown a link between ketogenic diets and cardiovascular disease. Low carb diets’ focus on fat consumption runs contrary to decades of medical science demonstrating the adverse effects of high saturated fat consumption on our heart health. We simply don’t need all that much in our diet and should not consume high amounts of it.

What You Need to Know about Low Carb Diets

Long story short, low-carb diets are not effective means of lasting weight loss and come with a number of risks that don’t outweigh the benefits. They’re just another fad.

top view of a family praying before christmas dinner

Managing Diet Comments from Family

Family holiday dinners are coming up and for many of us that could mean difficult, hurtful, or triggering comments about diet and weight with relatives.

Just like everyone has an opinion about the weather, it seems like everyone has an opinion on diet and weight loss. Unfortunately, many people feel compelled to share those opinions without consent or thinking about how it could land for the person on the receiving end. I think we probably all have that one relative who holds nothing back.

Some things to keep in mind: what is on your plate is your business only and it doesn’t matter what or how much anyone else at the table is eating. Your needs are unique to you and you are the only one who can tune into them. So, as much as you’re able, allow any unwanted comments to slide away and try to focus on your hunger and satiety, your cravings, and your satisfaction and enjoyment.

But, how do we curtail these unwanted conversations? Whether it be a relative going on and on about their latest diet or a relative claiming to be concerned about your health and relating it to your weight, here are some ways you can respond and enforce your boundaries.

To the relative detailing everything about their latest diet:

  • I’m really glad that you’ve found something that works for you but would you mind if we changed the subject?
  • I’m finding this topic kind of triggering, can we talk about something else?
  • This is clearly something you’re very passionate about, but this might not be the best time to discuss it. 

To the relative commenting on your holiday dinner plate:

  • Excuse me, why is my plate so interesting to you? (OK that one is confrontational)
  • You have the food that works best for you on your plate and this is what works best for me. 
  • I know you think you’re being helpful, but you’re actually doing the opposite. I would appreciate it if you would direct your attention back to your own plate.
  • I’m so happy we could get together today, but I didn’t get together to discuss my eating habits. 
  • What I choose to eat today is my business. 

To the relative making comments about diet and weight loss:

  • I know you think you’re being helpful, but I’m finding your comments hurtful. 
  • I understand that you want to help, but I am not looking for your advice on this. 
  • I prefer to keep conversations about my health between me and my physician so I’d like to change the subject. 
  • I’m not looking for weight loss tips right now. 
  • This conversation is making me very uncomfortable. I’d like to talk about something else. 

As long as there are family gatherings, there will probably always be comments about diet. However, by setting good boundaries for yourself and protecting those boundaries, you can minimize those comments and their impact on you.

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate

You don’t need a meal plan. Here’s Why

It may seem like it’s the solution you need, but a meal plan probably won’t be very helpful…not in the long-term anyway.

Here’s the thing about a meal plan: it tells you what to eat and when but what happens when you’re not longer on it? What if you can’t afford to continue having someone write them for you? Or your nutritionist moves on? Or whatever program you’re doing ends?

You will probably resume the same eating habits you were accustomed to previously. And that is not your fault.

You see, a meal plan is really no different than a diet in that it forces you to overhaul all of your eating habits at once without teaching you any skills or helping you gain insight into your eating habits. The result? It’s not sustainable.

So if you are hoping to change your eating habits in the long-term, a meal plan is not the answer. In fact, unless you’re just looking for someone to plan your menu for you because you’re tapped out in terms of energy, creativity, and brain power, I don’t recommend them.

So what is more effective? Work with someone who can:

  • teach you how to compose a balanced meal and how to snack to keep you energized throughout the day
  • coach you in setting reasonable meal planning and prep goals
  • help you develop the skills you need to meal plan effectively
  • coach you in working through obstacles that may disrupt your meal plan

The difference is that skills continue on. They’re translatable. Meal plans are a one-time fix. So you’ll get way more “bang for your buck,” so to speak, focusing on picking up skills and strategy rather than having it done for you.

So before you seek out meal planning services from someone, ask yourself what your goals are and what you are hoping to get out of it. If your goals are more focused on long-term eating habits, that meal plan probably isn’t the best solution.

If you’re interested in learning how to make healthy eating work in your busy life, give me a shout.

Dieting is the problem

Why do 90% of dieters regain the weight yet we keep turning to diets over and over again? The answer doesn’t lie in willpower or in sugar addiction or in the irresistibility of food additives. It lies in the nature of diets themselves.

First off, the diet industry thrives off promoting unrealistic (and often unhealthy) physical ideals. It makes a whole lot of promises about those ideals it knows it can’t keep. Regardless of whether they involve calorie counting, carb cutting, or fasting, essentially all diets drastically reduce the amount of calories that you eat so that you are consuming fewer calories than you burn. This is the weight loss equation: calories in < calories out.

The thing is that diets cut your calories to an unsustainable low to make sure you lose weight faster. However, you cannot sustain at those levels long-term. The adult body is not made to run off of 1200 calories – in fact, that amount is more suitable for a toddler. What happens in response to such low calorie intake over time? Cravings, obsessing over food, binging. Plus, your body slows down your metabolism in response to those reduced calories so that you must eat less and less in order to maintain (check out this great breakdown of your body’s adaptation to calorie restriction by Precision Nutrition).

When you deprive your body of energy (calories), nutrients, and the foods you enjoy, it’s not a matter of willpower. It’s basic human biology that makes you gain that weight back. It’s not a personal failing. Diets are made for weight loss, not maintenance, not keeping it off.

So, why do dieters regain the weight they lost? Because that’s what diets are designed for. So, please, keep that in mind before you sign up for your next weight loss challenge or before you start to beat yourself up for “falling off” your diet.

Want to learn more: check out my post on the difference between dieting and healthy eating.

Should You Use a Protein Powder?

Protein supplements are pretty much all the rage right now, but should you be using protein powder? Great question! I’m so glad you asked.

Do You *NEED* a Protein Powder?

Before you decide to add a protein supplement to your routine, there are a number of things to consider, the first one being, do you even need it?

In the strictest sense, supplements fill in your nutritional need gaps as a supplement your regular diet. Protein deficiency is extremely rare here in the US, even amongst plant-based eaters. So, chances are, if you’re an average person who is able to consume a balanced diet, you probably don’t *need* a protein powder.

That being said, some circumstances can increase your protein needs. For example, if you are not able to get adequate protein from your diet, whether due to lack of access to protein rich foods, lack of time, or issues with digesting protein. Another reason could be that you need more protein to support physical activity. Our bodies use protein to repair and rebuild, so if you engage in a lot of very strenuous exercise, then you will have greater protein needs than your next door neighbor with a desk job who walks his dog twice a day. And on that note about protein being used to rebuild and repair, if you are recovering from illness or injury, that could also increase your protein needs. Finally, we must consider the convenience factor. It’s definitely easier to toss a protein shake into your gym bag than a steak. So occasionally adding in a protein shake can help on those on-the-go days.

If you’re in doubt about your protein needs, speak with your physician, trainer, or dietician. (Note: I do not work with athletes)

Protein Quality

It’s important to note that the supplement industry in the US is notorious unregulated. This means that there could be issues with quality, ingredients, formulations or health claims and we, as consumers, may never know. So you need to be very cautious and informed when choosing your protein powder. Fortunately, third party resources, such as Labdoor.com and Consumerlab.com, independently test supplements for purity. You won’t find every protein powder available on there, but you will find many.

One thing to watch out for are supplements (almost always in the MLM category) that loudly brag about large numbers of scientific studies that back up their purity or efficacy. Those studies very often are either conducted by or funded by the company that makes the supplements and, therefore, cannot be assumed reliable. If you cannot obtain the actual study documentation and findings or cannot determine who conducted the study, it’s a red flag.

What Type of Protein?

So you’ve read this far. You’ve decided that you would like to use a protein powder. Now what?

Protein powders come in all sorts of varieties – whey protein, pea protein, soy protein, rice protein, even cranberry protein (WTF, right?)! Which one you choose is really up to you – your dietary preferences or allergies, price point, etc. In terms of athletic performance, studies really haven’t found any huge difference between protein types, but you will still see a preference for whey among many body builders.

Whether or not you were already a protein user, I hope this was informative. If you have questions about adding a dietary supplement to your routine, you should consult a qualified professional.

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale

What’s the difference between healthy eating and dieting?

How can you be a nutrition coach and be anti-diet? What’s the difference between healthy eating and dieting?

Dieting and healthy eating are actually very different, mutually exclusive things. In fact, dieting is NOT at all healthy eating.

Dieting

Dieting means drastically restricting what you eat, either by counting calories or outright eliminating foods, with the goal of weight loss. Diets are not meant to be sustainable in the long-term. Rather, they are designed to get you to your goal weight quickly, but not to keep you there. The proof of this is in the pudding: with all of the scientific evidence we have that shows that slashing calories will slow your metabolism and that these approaches almost always result in weight regain (plus more), the diet industry continues with the same fundamental approach. This is because the industry makes money off of dieters coming back for more.

Another hallmark that all diets have in common is the diet mentality. Diets promote deprivation and moralization of foods into “good” and “bad” categories. They entail black-and-white thinking – you’re either on a diet or off, being good or being bad. And, regardless of the specifics of the diet, they are too often a slippery slope into disordered eating. Dieting does not promote a healthy relationship with food. Think about the last time you were on a diet. How much time did you spend thinking about the foods you weren’t allowed to have? Wishing you could eat like everyone else? And how much time did you spend stressing out about how much of what you could eat? You shouldn’t be wasting so much time and energy stressing about fulfilling one of our most basic human needs. Food is not meant to be a source of stress, but the diet mentality makes it so by convincing us that we need to monitor our every bite.

The sneaky thing is, diet companies will convince you that it’s YOUR fault for not maintaining. The truth is that it’s NOT your fault if you struggle to stick to your diet’s strict rules and it’s NOT your fault if you gain your weight back. Our human bodies and minds are simply not compatible with the diet structure. Our bodies are not meant to run on just 1200 calories a day and we are programmed not to respond well to deprivation. If you would like a really eye-opening illustration of this, read about the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (and pay attention to how many calories they were consuming a day).

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating does not require counting calories or cutting out foods. In fact, there is room for all of your favorite treats! Instead of focusing on rules and numbers, you re-learn to tune into and trust your body so that you can securely give yourself permission to indulge. Healthy eating is about finding the right balance for you and for your body. By getting to the factors behind your cravings, eating mindfully, and tuning into your hunger and satiety cues, you are able to balance your diet and release that food stress.

The “healthy” in healthy eating isn’t just about the types of food you eat; it’s also about your relationship with food.

Healthy eating requires you to flip the script on that old diet mentality that we all carry with us. It requires recognizing that what works for me might not work for you. We could eat the same way and exercise the same and our bodies would look completely different – and that’s OK. It requires recognizing that there are no “bad” foods and that eating ice cream is not going to have negative consequences.

One final point: the goal of healthy eating doesn’t have to be weight loss. For example, you can focus on healthy eating to feel better, improve your health, manage certain conditions, or just to care for yourself. Our culture would certainly prefer to have us believe otherwise, but our bodies are supposed to come in different shapes and sizes and they are supposed to change as we get older. At 33, I don’t fit into the clothes I was wearing at 21 and I shouldn’t – my hormones are different, my metabolism is different, my eating and movement are different. Learning what your unique body needs is also an important part of healthy eating.

I write this post not to put down anyone else’s thing, but to give you some important information to consider before you embark on a diet program. If you have questions about this post or how I approach nutrition coaching, please don’t hesitate to send me an email.

Dealing with conflicting information

Wait…so are eggs bad for you again? But I thought you couldn’t have coffee while pregnant, now it’s OK? OK, I’ve got it, now. So red wine is good for you…except when it’s not?

These are such classic examples of the tennis match head flip we have to do as consumers reading headlines around diet and nutrition. One day a food is good for you and the next you shouldn’t eat it. With all this conflicting nutrition information, what is a health conscious consumer to do?

If there is one thing the media is really good at, it’s taking the slightest possibility and running with it as though it is unequivocal truth. One study can come out suggesting that people who eat potatoes 3 times a week are more likely to have inverted nipples and the next thing you know every outlet is reporting you should never ever eat potatoes.

But here’s the thing: correlation does not equal causation. There may be an environmental factor causing inverted nipples in a certain region and potatoes might just happen to be common and affordable in that region, thereby skewing the results. Or maybe there is a genetic factor that causes inverted nipples and also creates a taste for potatoes.

This is a silly example but the point is that just because 2 things are happening does not mean they are related.

Furthermore, just because one study had a particular finding, doesn’t mean that finding holds true. That study may have been poorly constructed, its results might not be able to be reproduced, it could have been funded by someone with skin in the game – a whole lot of different issues. So what should you do?

  1. Don’t stress about it

Getting stressed out about whether or not you should put stock in a new study isn’t helpful. Chances are, whatever those findings are won’t merit your dropping a habit immediately. By all means, give the story a read, but don’t let it drive you into a panic.

2. Keep an open mind

Remember, one study doesn’t prove anything conclusively. It needs to be peer-reviewed and the findings need to be able to be replicated. We still have SO MUCH to learn about the human body and nutrition – what we think we know now is bound to change as we learn more.

3. Talk to a professional

If you’re really concerned about the findings you’re reading, talk to your doctor or your nutrition professional about it. They should be able to let you know whether or not you need to make changes.

4. Focus on balance

At the end of the day, if you’re eating a wide variety of foods and eating more of the “healthy stuff” than the “less healthy stuff,” you probably don’t need to worry much. Too much of anything can be a problem, including information. So focus on finding your balance and don’t get sucked into the back and forth media coverage of these studies.

Meal Planning Success Tips

Meal planning and prep is an important pillar of healthy eating because it gives you complete control over the ingredients and portions that you and your family eat. In fact, research has shown that eating home cooked meals frequently is associated with healthier diet quality. That’s not to say that meal planning and prepping is easy. It takes time, thought, and energy. So how can you make meal prepping work for you? First off, there’s no wrong way to meal prep. Here are some meal planning success tips to get you started: 

Meal Prep Success Tips

Work with your schedule 

Some people like to do a lot of meal prep all in one day. Others will split it up over 2-3 days during the week. Another way to do it, is to cook larger meals and save leftovers for a couple days (helloooo crock pots and one-pan meals!). Look at your schedule but also consider your energy and stress levels as well when deciding which system works best for you. Create your schedule around that. 

Plan before you shop

Your meal prep plan needs to take into consideration not just your time, but also your budget and your inventory. Planning before you shop will cut your time in the grocery store and also allow you to modify your plan if you discover you need to purchase too many items for certain recipes. You also will have the opportunity to modify recipes by planning ahead as well. 

Try to reuse ingredients

It will save you time and money if you are able to use the same ingredients in several different dishes. For example, you could use quinoa to make a batch of stuffed peppers, a quinoa salad side dish, and vegetarian taco filling. Just make a large pot of quinoa at the beginning of the week and then work it into those dishes. Likewise, see if you can find ways to repurpose your leftovers into new meals.  For example, leftover chicken can be used to make chicken fajitas, leftover salmon can be made into salmon burgers – you get the idea.

Use your freezer

Some foods freeze better than others and taking advantage of that can save you time and money. Some ingredients that freeze well are:

  • Fruits such as peeled bananas, chunked mangos, and berries
  • Raw or blanched vegetables such as peppers, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and kale
  • Cooked vegetables such as sweet potato and squash (stock up on these when they’re in season and cheap, roast them up, then freeze them)
  • Firm tofu
  • Raw meats

Some prepared foods that also freeze well:

  • Soups
  • Sauces
  • Stir fry
  • Cauliflower fried rice
  • Pasta dishes
  • Black bean burritos

Spice it up!

Don’t be afraid of flavor. Spices and herbs are your best friend when cooking healthy foods. They allow you to reuse the same ingredients in many different ways. If you are uncomfortable improvising with your flavors, follow recipes. Tired of the same old grilled chicken breast? Try adding garlic and paprika for Mexican-style or go with lemon and rosemary. You can play around with different combinations once you get comfortable with the flavors that you enjoy. 

Get your family/friends involved

Cooking together is a good time to connect and it’s a great learning experience for kids! Research has shown that if you encourage your kids to meal prepare throughout their young adult life, they are more likely to eat healthier later and are less likely to develop picky eating habits. 

Only prepare foods that you enjoy eating

You may feel really motivated to cook only quinoa and asparagus for your lunch the next day, because you think that will be the healthiest. But if you don’t actually like quinoa and asparagus, you probably won’t end up eating it later. What’s the point of forcing yourself to eat things that you don’t find tasty? Food can be delicious and healthy; you sometimes just have to be creative. This is why when you work with Well & Simple, we offer thousands of new recipes that are easy to prepare yourself, and are tailored according to your taste preference.

Theme nights make things easier

These can be fun and give the whole family something to look forward to, as well as take away some of the thought you have to put into a meal. Some examples of fun theme days are: 

  • Meatless Monday
  • Taco Tuesday
  • Fishy Friday

Plan the dine out days

Meal planning also means planning nights when you don’t have to cook! If you know you will end up dining out once a week, you may as well put it on the schedule so you can always stick to your plan, and avoid wasting extra ingredients.

There are many other perks to cooking your own food besides it being healthier. It can be less expensive, and can be even tastier than takeout. It’s also a fun opportunity to teach your kids an important life skill, or just to spend time together on a busy work day. Following these meal planning success tips will help you get on your way.

Our intern, Nicki, actually conducted her senior thesis research on meal prep amongst college students and found that they eat more fruits and vegetables if they prep their own meals as well. So there you have it: meal prep is an important and even college students are getting in on it!

How about you? Do you meal prep regularly? What does it look like in your house?

Download Your FREE Guide to Writing Your Food Story

Understanding where your eating habits came from is the first step to changing them. Download your free guide to writing your Food Story to dig in and start to understand your habits.

 

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