If you’ve recently met with an Integrative or Functional medicine health care provider you were most likely given recommendations to change your diet. Research shows time and time again that the food you eat has a direct impact on your health, both good and bad. An eating pattern based primarily on real, whole foods can improve nutrient status, decrease inflammation, repair gut dysbiosis, manage weight and improve overall health!
However, fitting these new recommendations into your already hectic lifestyle can be a struggle. Creating a weekly meal plan and sticking to it is one of the best tools to help you succeed.
Meal planning provides many benefits besides helping you successfully adopt your new lifestyle. Planning what you will eat in advance will help you save time, save money, save food by reducing food waste, and reduce stress in the long run.
Follow this 3-step process to successfully plan your first week of meals:
- Gather your tools. Start by gathering all the information you will need to create a plan for the week. This can include your family calendar, any new or old recipes, and any tools you may need to create the meal plan (pen and paper, excel spreadsheet, mobile app). Next, take an inventory of what you already have on hand. This is also a good time to dispose of expired or unused products that don’t meet your personalized nutrition guidelines.
- Assess the situation. What does your week look like? Are there big events you will need to plan around? How much time will you have to cook and on which days? Will you plan meals around reusing or repurposing leftovers? What ingredients do you need to buy? Sit down and ask yourself these questions and more so that that you have thoroughly assessed the situation and can now formulate the proper plan.
- Take action. Create you meal plan using all the tools and information you have gathered. Print or make a clean copy, and place it somewhere highly visible. As you are putting together the meal plan, also create your grocery-shopping list for the week. Pick up all the necessary ingredients so that your kitchen will be stocked and ready for you to cook.
Remember to stay flexible. A plan is a great thing to have in place, but sometimes we have to make some changes due to bumps in the road. Planning and preparation are a key part of a whole foods diet and lifestyle. If you are still struggling to make this lifestyle change the PIH team is here to help you!
Written by: Abby Stanley, MS RDN LD
Abby has recently joined the PIH team as a Functional Nutritionist. She is also the owner and CEO of Revive Nutrition Solutions, LLC. She loves helping others improve their health and life through nutrition an advocate for eating REAL food!