Shaping Up: How to keep your healthy eating plan on track

Make sure you prepare your meals to stay on track.
Make sure you prepare your meals to stay on track.

This week I’ve had lots of conversations with people who are struggling to stay on track with their healthy eating plans over the school holidays.

While I can understand it’s a little more difficult to eat healthily when you’re out of your routine, and you’re surrounded with temptations when you’re out and about with the kids, it just takes one thing to stay on track ... preparation.

If you have a plan to stick to and you have the food already prepared, you are way less likely to go off track.

It just takes half an hour on a weekend to make a plan for the week ahead.

This is how I do it:

1. QUICK RESEARCH

Every weekend I spend 10 minutes flicking through cook books on my book shelf, and picking out some meals that I fancy for the following week.

Pinterest is another good source for healthy meal ideas.

2. CREATE YOUR PLAN

I write them down on a meal planner blackboard in my kitchen (along with the cook book name and page number – to save time when it comes to finding the recipe again). For example:

Monday – Goats Cheese Frittata (Hemsley Hemsley pg32); Tuesday – Chicken with Thai Broccoli Rice (Body Coach pg45); Wednesday – Chicken & Avocado Wrap (Pinterest); Thursday – Tuna with Green Beans (Bear Grylls pg112); Friday – Tortilla Pizzas (Pinterest); Saturday – Spicy Beef Stir-Fry (Pinterest); Sunday – Chicken roast (Sainsbury’s magazine pg72).

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I’m a bit pushed for time so I make sure the meals for those days are quick and easy to make.

On a Friday I like to have a treat, so I’ll schedule that on the planner too.

Having a structured meal plan like this makes it quicker and easier when it comes to making your meals.

If you don’t have a plan, you’ll waste a lot of time staring into the fridge wondering what you can knock up.

Then you’ll probably give up and reach for convenience foods, because conjuring up a meal in your head is very difficult.

During the holidays, it can be a little more difficult. If you know that you’re taking the kids out for the day, why not plan a healthy picnic?

Prepare it before you leave the house, and it will help you avoid grabbing fast food takeaways or convenience foods in a local café.

3. SHOPPING LIST

Once I’ve put the meals onto the planner, I go back through the recipes and write down all of the ingredients to create my shopping list.

4. GO SHOPPING

Then I’ll go get the shopping in for the week ahead.

Going into a supermarket with a structured plan and a shopping list saves you from throwing away foods, and saves you money too!

Without a shopping list, you’ll walk up every single aisle of the supermarket, throwing anything in your trolley that takes your fancy.

I can guarantee you’ll not eat half of those impulse buys and they will end up in the bin.

You should also find that you spend less time in the supermarket because you can whizz around for the items on your list, without having to march up and down every aisle.

5. STOCK UP

Head home to fill up the cupboard/fridge with the healthy ingredients I’ve just bought, and that’s me set for the week ahead.

It’s a simple as that. I can do the whole thing in less than an hour.

I may have to make another quick trip to the supermarket to pick up more fruit if I run out, but that’s it.

It may take you a little longer to begin with, but as the weeks go by you’ll get quicker and quicker.

Staying on track is really simple!

You just need to set aside half an hour to plan out your meals for the week.

Give it a go next week and you’ll see what a difference it makes to your healthy eating.

Your Trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award winning personal trainer based in Seaham.

The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year.

Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012.

For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email graham@eastcoast-fitness.com.