Maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging, especially when you're short on time and constantly on the go. However, with some planning, you can take control of your nutrition and make healthy eating a regular part of your routine.
Meal planning is a simple yet powerful tool for maintaining a healthy diet. As the name suggests, It is a process of organizing your meals in advance, typically for a week or more.
By planning your meals in advance, you can reduce stress, save time, make healthier choices, and save money. There are studies and publications made by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior that support the benefits of meal planning. Here are some Evidence-Backed benefits of organizing and pre-planning your meals: :
1. Meal planning can lead to better food choices
A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that individuals who planned their meals in advance consumed a higher-quality diet than those who did not.
Specifically, meal planners had higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and lower intakes of saturated fat and added sugars. This is because meal planners are able to make more deliberate and informed choices about their food.
2. Meal planning can help with weight loss
Several studies have shown that meal planning can be an effective tool for weight loss. For example, a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that individuals who planned their meals lost more weight than those who did not.
This is because meal planning can help you stick to your calorie goals, make healthier food choices, and avoid overeating.
3. Meal planning can save time and reduce stress
By planning your meals in advance, you can save time and reduce stress throughout the week. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that meal planning was associated with lower levels of perceived stress and greater feelings of well-being.
Additionally, when you have a plan for your meals, you're less likely to feel overwhelmed or anxious about what to eat.
4. Meal planning can reduce food waste
When you plan your meals in advance, you're less likely to buy food that you won't use or let ingredients go to waste. This can help reduce your environmental impact.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that meal planning was associated with lower levels of household food waste.
5. Meal planning can save you money
When you plan your meals in advance, you can make a grocery list that includes only the ingredients you need. This can help you save money on groceries, as you'll be less likely to buy items that you don't need or won't use.
Additionally, by cooking at home more often, you can save money on takeout and restaurant meals.
6. Meal planning can save you from allergies and restricted food
Meal planning is also beneficial for people with dietary restrictions, such as vegans or those with food allergies. By planning meals in advance, they can ensure that the food they consume meets their dietary needs.
It also helps to keep them on track with their dietary goals and avoids accidental consumption of food that might contain allergens.
7. Meal planning can improve your overall well-being
When you make healthy eating a priority, you'll likely experience a range of wellness benefits.
For example, you may have more energy throughout the day, experience fewer cravings for unhealthy foods, and improve your digestion. Additionally, by taking care of your nutrition, you'll be supporting your immune system and reducing your risk of chronic diseases.
With scientific evidence to support its benefits, including better food choices, weight loss, reduced food waste, and lower levels of stress, meal planning is an excellent way to take control of your nutrition and support your overall well-being. So why not try it and see how it can improve your life?
Ducrot, Pauline, et al. “Meal Planning Is Associated with Food Variety, Diet Quality and Body Weight Status in a Large Sample of French Adults.” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 14, no. 1, 2 Feb. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5288891/, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-017-0461-7.
Haynes, R. Brian, et al. “Nutritionally Complete Prepared Meal Plan to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, vol. 99, no. 9, 1 Sept. 1999, pp. 1077–1083, www.jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(99)00257-6/fulltext, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-8223(99)00257-6. Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.
Moore, A., and K. Eliot. “Meal Planning Behaviors of Working Adults.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, vol. 111, no. 9, Sept. 2011, p. A22, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2011.06.077. Accessed 26 Nov. 2021.