Meal Prepping 101: Getting To Know Your Food
Hello, it’s me again – back with some more meal prep guidance-Get to know your food!
Last month, I spoke about how I recommend anyone should start when beginning to meal prep, and in case you missed it you can see the article here!
Now that you have about 1 month under your belt of meal prepping- you may be asking what is the next step?
For my clients, I teach mindfulness and knowledge of their food as the next important step.
This may seem odd, but let me provide an example to illustrate what I mean:
You are preparing your meals for the week, and you want baked vegetables (we are going to use zucchini for this example). You cut up the zucchini, season it with various spices, add some olive oil, and put it in the oven to bake. You add some baked chicken to the mix, again seasoning it with spices, olive oil, and top it off with some rice.
added bonus: meal 1- 3 eggs- fresh spinach-
BAM- you have a traditional and easy meal!
The above example is a great, simple meal that is the cornerstone of all meal preppers, however, there is one question –
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Added Bonus: Meal 2- 2 chicken breasts- 1-2 cups rice- 1-2 cups peas
Is this a healthy meal?
well, for a 4-ounce chicken breast, 1 baked zucchini, and ½ cup of rice this yields a meal under 225 calories. Short answer, yes. If these are the only ingredients we use, then I would say this is a healthy meal. Yet, there is one item we forgot to account for – the olive oil! Depending on how much you added to your chicken and zucchini, your healthy meal now ranges from anywhere between 350-500 calories!
Now, before you march into your kitchen vowing to throw away the olive oil, please know that will not solve anything. Olive oil is not the problem; the problem is being aware of your food and what you are adding or using. Thus, I use the above example for all my clients to illustrate one thing – the importance of being mindful of their food prep.
This is important for a few reasons. First, as exemplified above, you can change a relatively “healthy” meal into one that does not help you achieve your goals. Secondly, it is easy to be unaware of how you could be hindering fitness goals with your meals. Lastly, to stress the importance of knowing what you are adding and using as food.
Added Bonus: Meal #3- Half palm size-wild caught-salmon-half palm size-chicken breast-asparagus & half cup quinoa
So how do you avoid this pitfall?
Well, the answer is simple and takes you back to elementary school, specifically reading and math! I guess those annoying 5th grade teachers were right in the fact that we would use those subjects in life :p.
Reading – I can’t stress enough the importance of this, but read the labels of the food you eat. They list the serving size and calories for each item all on the back of the label. The work is done, you just have to read it and plan accordingly.
Math –after reading the information on the back of the label, add, subtract, multiply, or divide the serving size to meet your needs.
It may surprise you how little 1 tablespoon of olive oil is when compared to the tradition “pouring a little” olive oil approach is.
The take away from this is to know your food. Food is not the enemy, rather, not being aware of what we eat that is the danger.
So next week when you cook your meals for the week ahead, look at the label and determine how much you need! That small but simple task will shave months off your timeline when trying to reach your goals.
Happy Holidays everyone! Be on the lookout next month when I explain how to track your macros and calories!
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Written by Military Fit Contributor
I work and manage clinical research at the Cleveland Clinic. My background and specialties include oncology, neurology, and genetics- I am a bit of a nerd. By early morning hours or late night hours, I am a CPT for clients in addition to my training for my weekend races. By the weekend, I compete in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) and travel the country competing. This has been my first year competing nationally with hitting a PR and taking 2nd place! My goal for 2020 is to qualify for Worlds OCR!
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