Meal planning

By Donna Fleming

Forget about willpower – the key to losing weight is being organised. Planning ahead so that you’re not tempted to eat unhealthy foods is the best way of shedding unwanted kilos, according to researchers at the University Institute of Lisbon in Portugal.

They have found that most of us understand we should be filling up on healthy, sustainable foods if we want to lose weight – but we often slip up because we haven’t done any planning. If we’re hungry and get caught short, we tend to give in to temptation and eat things that we know we shouldn’t, such as easy snacks.

Psychologist Cristina Albuquerque Godinho says, “We found that having strategies in place to deal with a range of eating situations that could undermine good intentionsis very important, and helps people to regulate their daily dietary choices.”

Examples of those strategies include:

• Making a healthy shopping list and sticking to it.

• Planning meals ahead so you know what you will be eating each day.

• Taking fruit or nuts to work for a snack so you won’t be tempted by foods such as chips or chocolate when you’re hungry in the afternoon.

• Coming up with polite excuses for turning down unhealthy foods (such as cake at a birthday celebration) when they are offered to you.

The study also found that people who understood the health benefits of eating well were more motivated to stick to a nutritious diet.

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