So, we are meal preppers and we are feeling pretty confident as we pack away our meals for a week of healthy lunches. We have lunchtime in the bag (so to speak!). But do we really? There are a bunch of lunchtime mistakes that even the most careful meal prepper can overlook from time to time. Here are a few common mistakes that can be made that can possibly slow your progress at achieving your weight goals. The following is our top eight:
1. You Didn’t Pack Enough Protein
One of the best ways to use your calories is in the form of proteins. You will want to pack good and nutritious proteins that you prepare yourself. Stay away from processed lunch meats that have sodium nitrates in them as a preservative. These meats, aside from just being scary, can actually interfere with your body’s processing of sugar. Adding lots of good protein helps to decrease your appetite while increasing a feeling of fullness that will satisfy you throughout your day. It can also increase your metabolic rate to help you burn calories while at the same time protecting your muscle mass during weight loss.
2. No Variety
No one wants to eat the “same old, same old” continuously. You want to meal prep a variety of things to eat for your lunches. Make good use of your freezer when you cook your proteins to preserve them and to add to your lunches.They won’t spoil this way and can be used from time to time. Make good use of spices in your favorite dishes. Vary your healthy fats up occasionally too so that you don’t get bored. A boring lunch can make even the most dedicated weight watcher slip up and binge on something from the no-no list periodically.
3. Not Eating Enough Healthy Fat (Or Eating Too Much)
Just a few decades ago, the accepted health mantra was “Fat makes you fat!” Since then, we have actually found the opposite to be true. Healthy fats are mandatory for a good, filling meal prep lunch. Fat is actually essential for weight loss and when it is coupled with a good portion of protein, it is very satisfying and keeps hunger and cravings at bay throughout the day. But, you also have to be smart about it. There is a balance. You don’t want to overdo the fats even if they are healthy. If you find that you are not losing weight, try cutting down on fat a smidge.
4. Portion Control
This mistake can mean a few things. You can have poor portion control by having too few calories in your lunch making you hungry and open to temptation to make some bad food decisions within the hour. Or it can mean that you have overdone it making your lunch too large and left yourself open for derailing your weight loss efforts. Don’t over-fill your lunch containers. Because, more likely than not, we will eat all of whatever we pack.
5. Skipping Fruits & Vegetables
Important to include lots of veggies in your meals. In fact, it should be two-thirds of your meal (the remaining third being protein and carbohydrate). Vegetables provide lots of important fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Fruit is important too (fewer fruits than vegetables), and you should provide yourself with a variety of each every day.
6. Cheating With Processed Foods & Condiments
Let’s face it, meal prepping takes a fair amount of time and commitment on our part. It is very tempting to let our guard down and fall back on processed foods from time to time. And to make it more enticing, these unhealthy foods (which are generally high in sugar and sodium) have a longer shelf life than those made from scratch. But don’t be give in! Instead, remember the pledge you have made to yourself and take the time to make your healthy marinades and dressings in bulk and freeze them in freezer bags for easy use when you need them.
7. Eating Out Too Much
We all have in the position of going to a restaurant and being served a meal that is big enough to feed a small village. OK, I am exaggerating a little, but really, restaurants can be hard because we have a tendency to eat everything that is placed in front of us. It is especially hard if we might be under some stress and feel the need of some comfort food. Or how about when we forget to plan ahead for lunch and we are hungry. Remember the sage advice “never grocery shop when you are hungry”? Same concept.
8. Packing Flavored Drinks
Whether it is diet soda or juice, both should be avoided. Diet sodas may be zero calories, but the sweeteners that most diet sodas use are far from a healthy choice. Juices, on the other hand, are filled with sugar. Your best bet is to pack water to hydrate yourself throughout the day and before you eat to help curb your appetite and keep you from eating beyond satiating your hunger.
There are other mistakes that we might have included, but these are our top 8. What lunchtime mistakes (if any) have you made? Let us know in the comments below.