If you’re looking to manage your weight, to maintain or even lose a few pounds, one of the very effective tools you can use is to reduce the number of decisions you have to make. This is because decisions you make when you are hungry are likely to be bad, and as the decisions you make each day pile up the quality of the decisions you make deteriorates.
The best way to ensure you don’t make bad decisions is to have a plan for the day. It’s easy to make a plan and it doesn’t take long. If you practice it a few times you’ll find it can improve your day, not just in what you eat but in fewer distractions.
For example, I just went downstairs for my mid-morning snack. If I hadn’t made a plan I would have opened the fridge, perused the food I had available, looked through all the cabinets to see what I had, and either made or just grabbed something at random, likely the thing that seemed tastiest (but possibly not the healthiest or supportive choice).
Since I had a plan I went downstairs, grabbed a pear from the fruit bowl, and ate it. Then back to work. Saved me both time and calories.
So make a plan. First, take a sheet of paper (or open an excel spreadsheet), and create a row for each time you normally eat during the day. For example, I eat every couple of hours, so mine looks like:
Of course, yours may look different, there’s growing evidence that eating small meals more often is not necessary for weight loss. It’s all about what works for you, so if you prefer 3 larger meals, that’s fine.
Then, next to each entry write down what you intend to eat for each meal. The great thing here is you can even count up your calories (or whatever counts for you – protein, carbs, etc) in advance to know you’ve made a good plan! Knowing what you have on hand and where you’ll be for each meal will help. This also gives you a chance to think about what your options are if you are out of the house – are you going to be eating at a restaurant? Will you be in transit? Do you need to take something along with you to meet your goals and reduce temptations?
If you’re going to be eating at a restaurant or in transit, it’s a great time to look up the menu online and see what the options are for healthier choices. Heck – sometimes I stalk a menu beforehand and decide hours or days before I get there what I will order. It’s easier to make the healthier choice when you’re not hungry!
This can take mere minutes, and gives you a blueprint for success all day long. Give it a try, and let me know how it went! If you find that it helped you stay on track, consider adopting a couple of templates that you can use every day. I have a couple standard plans for weekdays (which are usually pretty much the same) and a couple of different ones for weekends depending on my plans.