Ask the Nutritionist: How do we balance meal planning/prep with listening to our bodies when we are hungry, and limiting the opportunity to purchase junk food?
Eating only when you are hungry can be a beneficial way of balancing your diet and managing your weight. However, for a lot of individuals, it is hard to distinguish hunger from thirst. Every time your stomach growls, don’t reach for that nearby snack from the get go. Try to drink a glass of water and see how you feel after 20 minutes. However, you should absolutely listen to your body for cues of hunger/satiety. If you are hungry, eat. Once you’re full, stop! Even if your plate still has food on it! Pack it away and save it for later.
Meal planning and prep is an excellent way of having home-prepared food ready when the hunger strikes. Here are some top tips in preparing food for the week in order to avoid falling into the trap of making poor dietary choices when you are hungry!
1) Invest in portion controlled containers: Purchase a pack of microwave safe containers, so you can portion out your food for the week and carry it on the go. This will be extremely convenient when you’ve had a long day at work and want to come home to a ready meal.
2) Choose easy snack options: Chop up fruits and vegetables into zip lock bags and grab a bag with you to work. Keep a bag of raw nuts and seeds at the office for a boost of healthy fats and energy! Make sure to snack wisely and keep your portions controlled.
3) Bring a water bottle everywhere: Most of the time, our bodies are thirsty and dehydrated. As I mentioned above, it is difficult to distinguish hunger from thirst. Always carry around a water bottle throughout the day, and sip as you go! Try to challenge yourself to finish 4 bottles of water a day.
4) Crockpot: Slow-cookers are a great way of making bulk dinners. They are so simple to use, and convenient for busy individuals. Simply throw in all your ingredients and set the timer. You can find tons of crockpot recipes online for delicious ideas!