Okay okay – we get that meal prep is usually seen as a bit of a chore, but if you really think about it (or just read on), there are loads of mental and physical health benefits to getting your week’s food in order.
Wait… what is meal prep?
Meal prep sounds like a gym-buff buzz word. Don’t be afraid. It’s simply having some, part or all of your meals for the week prepared ahead of time. The idea is that you make one big healthy dish, or a few different ones to eat for the rest of the week so that you don’t have to spend the time making food for every meal. Think of it as cooking your own TV dinners.
In short, meal prep is not just a fad for the fitness obsessed. It’s a bit of a life hack to help you get organized.
How is preparing meals self-care?
Don’t buy the idea of cooking on a Sunday? Reconsider. It might initially sound like a super stressful thing to do, but actually, there are loads of mental benefits!
Cooking is a creative task, especially when you’re making something new. A recent study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology showed that a little bit of everyday creativity led to increased positive affects experienced by participants in the following days.
In fact, the positive effects of cooking on mental health has been adopted as a form of therapy and rehabilitation.
Julie Ohana is a culinary therapist based in Michigan and describes her practice as a form of ‘art therapy’. Focusing on a creative yet challenging task like cooking works in the same way as play for mindfulness. Julie describes some of the mindfulness benefits in an interview with Munchies:
“A huge piece of coping and managing anxiety and depression is living in the moment and being aware of that. Life and cooking is a balancing act of thinking a few steps ahead, but also focusing on what is in front of you in the exact moment.”
Meal prep helps you stick to your diet
“failing to prepare is preparing to fail”
Having all of your meals laid out for you diminishes the potential of choosing an easy (and usually unhealthy) option. When you’re in deep in the flurry of a busy week, you’re more likely to favour convenience over health.
Rather than ducking out to your nearest drive-through or Uber eats, head to the fridge or freezer and munch on one of your lovingly healthy prepped meals instead!
Are you a meal prep newbie? Start small!
If the concept of meal prep makes your head spin there’s a solution. Start small. It’s near impossible to plan every single meal for your week. Especially if you’re in charge of feeding a family.
Rather than stressing over planning all your meals, start with just lunches, dinners or snacks. You could even tackle meal prep for the first two or three days of the week. Getting yourself just a little bit organized is a win in itself.
You’ll start to build a bank of recipes that you’ll turn to after you get into the swing of things. And you’ll be pleased with all the extra time you have during the week to do other things! Mega win!
What is Self-Care Sunday? It’s your weekly reminder to treat yourself, slow down and make sure you’re taking extra special care of number one. Because the first step to long-lasting weight loss is self-love!