Excuse me, is that food you’re eating?
If it came from a bag or a box or a drive-through window, then the answer is probably no.
In my book, Reboot Your Body: Unlocking the Genetic Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss, I tell readers that the most important dietary change they can make is to plan and prepare their own meals. Moving away from a packaged, processed, high-sugar/high-fat diet and toward one centered around whole foods is the number one habit that has led to weight loss success among my clients time and time again.
Regardless of which type of diet you choose to follow - plant-based, Mediterranean, DASH or paleo - your weight loss success will be directly proportional to the number of meals you prepare yourself using fresh, whole ingredients.
I often hear, “But I don’t have time to cook!” and I say that’s a tired old excuse and it’s time to make your health and your weight loss a priority. Learning to plan, shop for, and prepare your own food will take a small investment of time up front, but once you’ve gotten out of the habit of eating “convenience” foods and into the habit of eating stuff that is actually food, you’ll find that the benefits far outweigh the extra time it takes. As you practice this habit more and more, you’ll find that preparing healthy meals doesn’t take much longer than heating up something packaged, or ordering and waiting for food that has to be picked up or delivered. Most of my own meals take between 20 and 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish. You can hardly get through the line at the fast food counter in that amount of time.
Start off slowly by trying to increase the number of meals you prepare each week by one or two. Get into the habit right away of planning those meals, making a detailed shopping list and then sticking to that list. Once you get the food home, spend 10 or 15 minutes pre-prepping it: wash fruits and vegetables, and if you’ll be using them within a day or two, you can even peel and chop them before you put them away. This extra time tacked on at the end of your shopping errand will make week-night cooking a breeze. And as an added bonus, you’ll have clean, bite-sized fruits and veggies ready to grab and go when you need a quick, healthy snack.