After introducing the concept of "healthy eating math", we discussed an example where I posted every meal I ate for a week and gave each day a grade.
Now, we're going to cover some simple, effective ways to improve your healthy eating math.
#1 - Eat a consistent breakfast.
This guarantees AT LEAST 5-7 healthy meals per week.
Example: unless I’m on vacation or traveling, I have two options for breakfast: a protein shake, or eggs and spinach. I’ll throw in some other vegetables (scallions, yellow onions, avocado) or mix up spices (hint: try garlic+cumin+mint) in the eggs+spinach to keep things interesting, but that’s about it. I usually go with the protein shake for convenience.
This guarantees I eat a healthy breakfast every morning. I essentially operate on autopilot from the moment I wake up until I finish breakfast, because I do this literally every morning. I don't have to think about what I'm having.
I’m guaranteed 7/21 healthy meals for the week. This makes eating at a B or an A level much more achievable.
#2 - Plan your cheat meals in advance.
Take 10 minutes to look at your calendar for the week ahead on Sunday and have a game plan for when you’ll take your cheat meal(s).
Planning your cheat meals in advance increases the likelihood that you stick to your diet goals, still lets you be spontaneous, AND, helps you enjoy cheat meals without feeling guilty.
Example: you know you're going out for a friend’s birthday Friday, so dinner and drinks are on the schedule. That's one of your cheat meals for the week, and you should enjoy it, guilt-free!
Depending on your goals, this leaves you one more cheat meal if you’re eating at an “A” level, and 2-3 more cheat meals if at a “B” level. So, we're going to ignore the bullshit pastries Debra brings in at work (because we're eating a consistent breakfast!) and eat healthy through the week.
Surprise! Your significant other had a bad day Wednesday and wants to get out of the house for pizza and ice cream. You can enjoy it - guilt-free - because you've made an effort to game plan your cheat meals for the week. Depending on your goals, you have anywhere from 1-3 spontaneous cheat meals up for grabs, because you're already accounting for the debauchery of Friday night.
It seems counterintuitive, but planning for cheat meals in advance enables you to be MORE spontaneous, because you're mindful of your meals for the entire week.
Think of it like budgeting, but for your diet.
#3 - Meal prep.
Few things torpedo a healthy eating plan like coming home from a long day at work and having to cook dinner from scratch. Prep your meals for the week on Sunday (Monday evening works great too, if you’re traveling and get home late Sunday).
At the very least, fix your lunch for the week, and have your dinner ingredients prepped and ready, so all you have to do is the “pickup” for dinner.
Every Sunday or Monday, I cook a bunch of chicken breasts, cut them, and store the cooked chicken in portioned tupperware. For lunch, I have grilled chicken salad. I rotate veggies and nuts (spinach, avocado, almonds, walnuts, green onion, feta cheese, carrots are my staples) to keep things interesting. Since I do all the cooking early in the week, fixing my lunch every day takes maybe 5 minutes, tops.
When combined with tip #1 - eat a consistent breakfast, this guarantees that 10-14 of my meals are healthy every single week.
Take this a step further and prep your dinner ahead of time (I use a sous vide to cook large cuts of meat like pork shoulder, brisket, or beef roast), and you're looking at a minimum of 15-17 healthy meals per week.
By meal prepping, we can guarantee we earn at least a "B" grade every single week. Instead of having to put time and effort into cooking every single day, we shift a majority of the work into ONE day. Consider it a big upfront investment in your health.
This concludes our three-part series on healthy eating math.
First, we introduced the concept of healthy eating math as a simple way to keep tabs on how well you're eating.
Then, we went through an example to show how to quickly and easily calculate your healthy eating "report card".
To wrap up, in this post, we discussed three key ways to improve your healthy eating math - eating consistent breakfast, planning cheat meals in advance, and prepping your meals at the beginning of the week.
If you're looking to simplify healthy eating, give this system a try for two weeks. It's a stress-free way to quickly and accurate gauge how well you're eating. It's given me great results - let me know how it works for you!