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How Meal Planning Helped Tara Lose 12 lbs in 2 Months

by | Apr 11, 2017

Like many of us, Tara has been struggling to lose weight for over a decade. She’d tried lots of different strategies on and off over the years, and had made progress. But it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that two things really clicked into place.

First, she started the Mindful Meal Challenge to learn to eat mindfully, which helped her notice she was putting more food on her plate than she needed to feel satisfied. The second is that she started becoming more deliberate in her meal and exercise planning, which she calls her healthstyle planning.

Tara has a very busy and erratic schedule. She has an international team and has to attend virtual meetings at odd hours throughout the week. She also travels a lot and has events in the evening that often pull her away from home and out of her kitchen. More often than not these obstacles led her to rely on takeout and other convenience foods that were preventing her from reaching her goals.

To get around this, Tara spends a few minutes on Saturday mapping out her week and planning for the times she knows she’ll be able to eat at home and exercise. On Sundays she goes grocery shopping and does enough food prep to get her through the week, including some back up meals for the freezer for the inevitable night that gets away from her.

Simply cooking at home instead of relying on takeout can result in a huge difference in calorie intake that likely accounts for a large part of Tara successfully losing 12 lbs in two months (most of which, she noted, came off in the first month). Tara and I also discuss how the planning leads to better decisions after dinner as well, specifically regarding alcohol and desserts.

Tara has a great system of building healthstyle habits by tracking the way she feels after different behaviors, and letting that be the guide for her future actions. She uses this knowledge to manage her energy levels that she needs to maintain for her busy life, and make sure her treats and social engagements don’t undo all her hard work.

One of my favorite experiments she did was solve a mysterious headache issue by having a gin and tonic each night for a week.

Wish you had more time to listen to the podcast? I use an app called Overcast (no affiliation) to play back my favorite podcasts at faster speeds, dynamically shortening silences in talk shows so it doesn’t sound weird. It’s pretty rad.

 

Related links

Mindful Meal Challenge

The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt

JJ Virgin protein powder

Way of Life app

Hyperbiotics Pro-15 probiotic

Psyllium husk

 

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For the Love of Food

by | Oct 9, 2015
For the Love of Food

For the Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week environmental chemicals damage reproductive health, calcium not helpful for bones and the world’s most surprising bacon lover.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

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For the Love of Food

by | Aug 28, 2015
For the Love of Food

For the Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week a simple way to lose more weight, how to deal with your family’s bad habits, and why you’re feeding your baby wrong.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

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3 Reasons to Meal Plan + a Quick Guide to Getting Started

by | Feb 25, 2015

pea soup

JULES CLANCY loves keeping things simple, especially in the kitchen. She has a degree in food science and blogs about healthy meals made easy at www.thestonesoup.com.

3 Reasons to Meal Plan + a Quick Guide to Getting Started

by Jules Clancy

When I was first getting into cooking in my early 20s, I spent loads of time planning my meals each week. I’d pore over cookbooks and magazines, and write lengthy shopping lists. I actually enjoyed it in a funny way, but as life got busier my meal planning habit was one of the casualties.

I found myself falling into the trap of either picking something up on the way home from work or, more often than I’d like to admit, getting takeout or going to a restaurant.

Over time, I realized that having some sort of plan and shopping on a weekly basis was not only better for my waistline, it was also easier on my wallet. But the best discovery was that meal planning didn’t have to be as time consuming as I’d originally thought.

These days I only spend a few minutes a week on meal planning. I’m not kidding.

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For the Love of Food

by | Mar 7, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week celery is an aphrodisiac, chewing cuts calories, and kids love meditation (so you should too).

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
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Meal Planning Without Shopping Lists

by | Feb 15, 2012

Photo by evelynishere

Photo by evelynishere

Food shopping can be intimidating, especially if cooking is new to you.

A common approach to this problem is to pick your recipes beforehand, make a list of what you need and then shop until everything from the list is in your basket. But being comfortable shopping without a list is a valuable skill worth adding to your healthstyle toolkit.

Lists can come in handy, especially when you’re planning a large meal or event where organization is essential. But at a farmers market, shopping lists aren’t nearly as useful.

You can never be 100% certain of what you’re going to find at the market each week. Sure there are things you can usually count on (I know I can find kale at my market year round), but having a long catalog of ingredients for a particular recipe is likely to be frustrating.

A shopping list you can’t fulfill will leave you scrambling, running around the market looking for absent ingredients or inferior substitutes. No fun. The last thing you want to do is turn the farmers market into a source of anxiety.

Still the best reason to avoid lists at the farmers market is that discovering new and interesting foods is what makes shopping there such a treat. It takes an open mind and curious eyes if you hope to find the next tree tomato.

So how do you free yourself from the shackles of shopping lists without ending up with a pile of random vegetables and no obvious meals?

When shopping at a farmers market, the best meal planning strategy combines both structure and flexibility. Start with an idea of what you want to accomplish, then let the season’s offerings nourish your spirit of adventure and round out your menus.

Meal Planning at the Farmers Market

Step 1. Quantify

Think about how many meals you want to get from your purchases (e.g. 4 dinners, 5 lunches), and be sure to have that many main course ideas (vegetables being the centerpiece) given that a few will probably repeat.

At this point it is okay to have one or two things in mind you know you want to make, but the rest of your meals should be inspired by wandering through the aisles and seeing what catches your eye.

Step 2. Visualize

As you discover which foods will be the focal points of your meals, start to think about how you might like them cooked (even if you don’t know how). Think about what other flavors usually taste good with what you’re buying–consider herbs (parsley, thyme, mint, cilantro, etc.), proteins (meats, fish, eggs, legumes) and side dishes.

If you can’t think of anything, try to remember how these foods have been served to you in a restaurant. If you still aren’t sure what other flavors would be a good choice, ask the vendor you are buying from. Farmers are usually pretty good at cooking the foods they grow.

Step 3. Consolidate

For all the different ideas you had for meals, think of those with common flavors. Look for similarities between the dishes and overlapping ingredients. For example, most dishes will need some kind of onion, garlic or both. The farmers market is also a great place to get herbs and spices.

Look around and see what is available, purchasing the ingredients that are the most versatile. Flavors that can be included in several different dishes also give you the flexibility to change up your meal plans in middle of the week if you are suddenly struck with inspiration.

Step 4. Collect

As your ideas solidify, be sure to collect all the elements you need. iPhone apps can be particularly helpful with this if you want to double check ingredient lists. Because most popular recipes are born from available seasonal ingredients, it is likely you will find everything you need while shopping at the farmers market. If not, you might need to pick up the rest of your ingredients at a regular grocery store–not the end of the world.

To make sure you don’t forget anything, think about each dish individually and deconstruct each of the elements in your mind. This will jog your memory if you forgot to grab a lemon or some garlic.

Step 5. Plan

It is good to have a rough idea of when you are going to eat each of the meals you visualized. Some vegetables hold up better than others over the course of a week in the refrigerator. Plan to eat the most delicate produce in the first day or two, and save the hearty kale and broccoli for later in the week. Here are some tips to keep produce fresh.

Conclusion

Creative shopping without lists takes some practice, but you don’t have to be a master chef or flavor expert to get it right. When cooking with delicious, seasonal ingredients you can’t go wrong with simplicity. Start with the basics and work your way up as you get more comfortable in the kitchen and at the market.

Do you use shopping lists?

Originally published January 20, 2010.

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