One you’ve become an official meal prepper, there’ really no turning back. However, it can take a little while for you to get into the habit of meal prepping. If you need an extra motivational boost - especially for the new year - then here are some steps that you must follow in order to make meal prepping a regular, integral part of your daily life.
But before we dig into the most effective ways of making meal prepping a part of your routine, let’s remind ourselves why we would want to in the first place. Meal prepping has been proven time and time again to be one of the most effective ways to monitor and control your diet - all while getting the nutrition and appropriate balance of fats, carbs and protein.
5 Top Benefits of Meal Prepping
1. Portion Control
No more eating chips straight out of the bag, or not measuring out your food before you eat it. Food prepping allows you to eat a balanced, healthy diet (and yes - you can indulge every once in awhile!) without getting out of control with your portions.
2. Easy to Do
Meal prepping is easy once you get the hang of it. While it may be hard to adapt to reheating your meals after you’ve cooked them, once you do adopt this healthy lifestyle habit it’s bound to stick with you.
3. It’s an “anti-diet”
Meal prepping is not to be thought of as a “diet”. It’s not something that should be used just to lose excessive amounts of weight. While weight loss can be a prerogative of yours, you can also meal prep and count calories in order to gain muscle, or simply maintain you weight. Meal prepping is not so much a “diet” as it is a change in the way you structure your meals.
4. Meal prepping makes cooking a breeze
The thing about meal prepping, is that it’s super easy to do and you are able to store your food in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer indefinitely. While it may be a bit of a struggle at first to not cook your meals every breakfast, lunch and dinner, it can and should be done in the interest of time.
How to Incorporate Meal Prepping Into Your Life
As January turns into February, and winter changes to spring changes to summer and so on, don’t let your motivation fall. Meal prepping will help you stay on track and keep you motivated so you can achieve your ideal body. Especially if you follow these methods:
Science Backed Ways to Develop Habit Forming Skills
This is crucial to your success. You want to develop the best habits possible so that you automatically carry out various tasks that are beneficial to you. Meal prepping is one of those tasks that should do your body lots of good. However, developing a habit is often easier said than done, and it takes a conscious effort on your part. But, it can be done. Here’s how to develop a new habit according to an interview with Charles Duhigg from NPR:
“It turns out that every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a "habit loop," which is a three-part process. First, there's a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold. Then there's the routine, which is the behavior itself," Duhigg tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "That's what we think about when we think about habits." The third step, he says, is the reward: something that your brain likes that helps it remember the "habit loop" in the future.”
There you have it. Forming a habit is as easy as: 1. Creating a trigger. 2. Enacting the desired behavior. 3. Rewarding yourself. It’s that simple. How do you apply this to your meal prepping efforts? There are a variety of cues that you can use to signal your brain not to cook each individual meal and instead eat the food you have stored in the fridge. As an example, you could:
● Move your pots, pans and other cooking ware
● Place your meal prep containers right in the very front of your fridge
● Set a reminder on your alarm clock: “Eat your meal prep food!”
● Get creative. What other trigger can you set in place?
From there, for the routine forming part of it (step 2), that part is easy: simply eat. Whether you reheat your meal prep food in a conventional oven, on the stovetop, or in the microwave, or eat it cold, you want to make sure the food you have allotted for yourself gets eaten.
From there: the reward. While eating a snack may or may not be in your best interest according to your weight management goals, some ways you can “indulge” a little bit without food include: a positive affirmation, a glass of your favorite tea, or allowing yourself a day at the spa for successfully eating all of your meal prepped meals.
The benefits or meal prepped meals are endless and are extremely effective in allowing you to get the nutrition you need in a planned, calculated way that saves you time. Make it a part of your everyday lifestyle by following the three-part process above.