Fad diets and weight loss schemes are scattered throughout our society and commonly include one key feature: achieve the body of your dreams, effortlessly. These diets aim to achieve this for their users through the practice of meal replacements. These meal replacements vary across different fad diet plans and can take the form of protein shakes, protein bars, smoothies, etc. To put it simply, there is no fast or magical way that will allow an individual to achieve a skinny and healthy body while simultaneously giving them the skills required to maintain this ‘healthy’ lifestyle over an extended period of time. To accomplish this, a behavioural change has to be triggered. A behavioural change regarding the way an individual views food consumption and nutrition itself will not only allow a healthy lifestyle to be achieved, but it will also provide the tools necessary to maintain this lifestyle long-term. What is the best way to achieve this behavioural change? Meal preparation. However, when it comes to fad diets or weight loss schemes, meal preparation is overlooked or ignored because it is perceived as expensive, and unrealistic to individuals constantly on the move or people who simply do not like cooking. Despite this inconvenience that meal preparation brings along with it, it is considered to be the most important part of dieting.
Setting time aside in a schedule to cook and prepare a healthy and nutritious meals for the week will not only avoid stress, save time and money, but will also encourage a positive attitude towards good nutrition and healthy, regular food consumption overall. If this is done consistently over a long period of time, it will allow a routine to become established. Establishing a regular routine in nutritious meal preparation will assist with weight control, benefit mental health and ensure that one’s diet can maximise nutritional intake.
Meal replacement shakes, although they can be time-saving and convenient, don’t offer the same long-term benefits that an established routine of cooking real, nutritious food can. Replacing essential meals with protein drinks or snacks can also be an expensive method of dieting and a waste of time. Consuming a shake every day does not teach the necessary skills and knowledge required to obtain and maintain a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. Expecting an individual to have the same shake or smoothie every day is also unrealistic. The individual is bound to quit this fad diet sooner or later, and when this does inevitably occur, the person will simply revert back to previous dieting habits, wasting time and money. To encourage the onset of a behavioural change needed for effective dieting, adopting healthy and regular meal preparation as an everyday habit is recommended.
This behavioural change won’t happen instantly. It will take some time and commitment to achieving a healthy lifestyle. Once a routine is established, it is vital to maintain it. Make some guidelines for yourself in regards to what you’re going to buy, how much you are going to spend, and what time you’re going to commit to the meal preparation itself. It is also important to mix it up and enjoy the meals you’re eating. Don’t get caught in a cycle of cooking and eating the same thing every night. This will result in boredom with the routine, and may eventually result in abandoning this system. Also, cooking and freezing a week’s supply of meals will save some time and stress. Buying pre-cut vegetables, pre-cooked lentils and storage containers may also save time and allow for a peaceful, stress-free evening.
Finally, meal preparation can be practiced by anyone. All that is need are some ingredients, a healthy recipe, and some motivation to improve your quality of life.