Weight Loss Strategy No. 3: Pre-Planning
Pre-planning (deciding in advance your meals for the day) is a technique that can make following a pattern easier and help minimize last-minute decisions, impulse eating, temptation, and bingeing. It does have its limitations, but most find it to be a useful tool to help with weight loss.
Pre-planning involves not only what you’ll eat, but also when you’ll eat it. It can help you to make, and then stick to, good choices and keep you from getting hungry (if you have planned well). Ideally you should write down your sample meal plan for the day. If you try planning more than a day or two at a time, you may find your schedule changes that can make sticking with it difficult. Having a written plan tends to be more concrete than just having ideas in your head. When making out your meal plan, follow the guidelines to maximize weight loss: well-spaced meals, snacks to keep from getting hungry, a protein food every 3-4 hours, less food as the day goes on.
If you find pre-planning on a regular basis to be too constricting or time consuming, at least try to plan on days you know you will be eating out or attending a party. You may want to adjust your intake in such a way that you allow for more food at that time of day. Saving a fruit for a glass of wine, or a fat for some “regular” dressing, may be all you need. Or you may try to reduce the temptation to overeat by planning for a filling snack before you go. A half-cup of Fiber One cereal or a bowl of vegetable soup may keep your stomach full so you’re less likely to overdo it on the high-calorie treats.
One note of caution: pre-planning just gives you guidelines. There will be circumstances beyond your control that will cause you, on occasion, to deviate from what you had planned. This is normal - so expect it. You should, by no means, use this as an excuse to disregard your whole program for the day. Dieters tend to think in all-or-nothing terms. One little slip-up is used as a reason to “really blow it.” Don’t fall into this trap.
Once you have tried pre-planning you should evaluate how well it’s working for you. How close did your intake match what you planned? If you did deviate, did you make wise substitutions or give in to some tempting, but non-nutritious choice? Did you find that it helped you pass on certain foods you hadn’t planned for but might ordinarily splurged on? Did it help you (after the initial planning stage) not think so much about food? Do you find it helps you gain some control over your eating habits?