Ep #31: Keep It Simple – Meal Planning for Successful Weight Loss

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Changing your diet may seem daunting. What do you eat if there’s no bread, no carbs smothered in ooey-gooey cheese and no deserts? How many times have vegetables rotted in the bin because there was no time to figure out how to cook them?

We know eliminating foods that are bad for health is the right thing, but these foods are inexpensive, convenient and comforting. So, how do we make that switch and stick to it? By using simple meal plan strategies.

Meal planning is an essential piece of the weight loss puzzle, but it must also be sustainable. The key to real sustainability is eating foods you like. A revelation, right? In this episode, I give you the foundation for creating your own simple meal plan with foods you’ll actually enjoy eating along with some of my favorite tips for simplifying the process.   

If you like what you heard today, please go to Apple Podcasts and leave a review. The more reviews we receive, the more women will learn about the podcast and learn from these lessons. If you know someone who is struggling with food, send them a link to the podcast and maybe they can find something here they haven’t heard before!

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • The importance of meal planning
  • Simple tips to make your meal plan successful
  • How your 5 senses can help you stick to your plan
  • How to create a Food Matrix

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Full Episode Transcript

With Your Host

Pat Beaupre Becker

You are listening to It's Never too Late to Lose Weight, a podcast with Pat Beaupre Becker, Episode 31.

Welcome to It's Never too Late to Lose Weight. A podcast for women approaching 60 who have been successful at everything but reaching their weight loss goals. Tune in each week for tools and strategies to help you lose weight, create a strong body, and support a healthy mind. Here's your host, certified weight and life coach, Pat Beaupre Becker.

Hello, my dears. Oh my God. Summer is just so fantastic. My garden, which I hadn't had for a couple of years, is just growing like wild. My green beans, I've already eaten some of the fennel. Perhaps I think I grew too many of them. But I have an eggplant. I have a cucumber growing. It's pretty darn exciting for me.

I'm really practicing mindfulness and being in the garden and being outside is a great place for me to have that practice, as well as being in the shower.

But today, I want to talk about a problem that you may have had that prevented you from successfully losing weight over the years. And that problem may have been not really knowing exactly what to eat.

Now, maybe you're a chef. Or maybe you're like me and you can't cook for beans. But if you're a chef, maybe you couldn't imagine giving up these perceptions of what it takes to create good tasting foods. Or if you're like me and you never really learned how to be a good, exceptional cook, learning to prepare different foods rather than just picking up those habitual foods that we just choose over and over again, that could feel overwhelming.

Now, I didn't know exactly what to eat or even what there was to eat when I gave up my weekly go to menus. So, they were, I'm embarrassed to say, but nachos made in a toaster oven. They were prepared pastas from Trader Joe's. Then my desserts were cookies, Oreo cookies, Suzy Q's. Then there were burritos to go. And 99 percent of the time, lunch was a turkey sandwich. That was so common even when I was ordering for other people. And then there was an egg McMuffin. That was a treat. And grilled cheese, that was like my comfort food.

And I was thinking, "What is there to eat if there's no bread and melted cheese and desserts? What is left to eat?" And then I started to learn that there are other kinds of foods. And that felt like a revelation. Well, since then, I have read a lot about healthy foods. Right? And watching my mother develop full blown diabetes because of her eating habits, that gave me a commitment to eat healthy.

But at the start, I would buy veggies and not really know what to do with them. They would just rot in the bin. Or I would get home late from work and there was no way I was going to start cooking.

Now, I still, even after 15 years of learning how to eat healthy and prepare food, I still don't consider myself a great cook. As a matter of fact, last night I made a new recipe. It was a chickpea Caesar salad. It was just a salad, but it had way more ingredients than I normally have in the sense that I had to make the dressing myself. And just as I was about to be finished, I looked at the kitchen, and oh my God, it was a huge mess. But I have to say that it was really delicious. My husband and I, we both enjoyed it. And it was worth it. But as I said, even after simplifying my meal preparation, for me making a fancy Caesar salad just shows you that in the kitchen I am not a smooth operator. But at the same time, I have managed to maintain a 40-pound weight loss over the course of at least six years at a time. And as a result of that, I do manage to eat three meals a day.

Now, the one thing that I know and that I've learned from working with so many clients is that people eat food they like. Now that may not sound like a great revelation. But what it says is in order to create and stick to a food plan, you have to put foods on that plan that you like to eat. Now, if you can tell me that you only like sandwiches, pastas, and donuts, then I'm going to invite you to open up your palette and to try different foods. Now, even having a turkey sandwich without the bread in a lettuce wrap and maybe not tons of sauces and mayonnaise. That's something you can try to shift the way you eat.

I know that for me, this year we learned about spiralizing zucchinis. What a revelation, right? It's fast, it's simple, it's healthy. And then you get to put your tomato sauce or pesto sauce or any other pasta sauce that you enjoy. Now, eating a bowl of fresh fruit berries, that's going to provide you with some sweetness and none of the inflammatory responses that will happen to your body if you're eating donuts or cookies. Now, even a lettuce wrapped burger, which is I highly recommend grass fed beef, that's a great way to adapt your eating habits because you still get that flavor of the burger without the processed flour. You could also look at different salads, right? Grabbing a chopped salad that has a variety of proteins, that's another option you can go to instead of grabbing that sandwich that you're used to grabbing.

Another option for preparing healthy meals are the various food delivery programs. They're national. There are some local. And they provide you with good, healthy meals. Right portions. And some of them will actually send you all the ingredients and you get to cook, and others provide you with fully cooked meals. I've heard of Sun Basket and Hello Fresh and also Blue Apron. But I also know locally, perhaps there's a local entrepreneur in your area that created their own food delivery program. So, you can look that up online or you can ask people around.

Another option, I have a friend that did this, you can hire someone to cook for you. You can hire someone at a reasonable price and they can put together some healthy meals for you. Now, if you do like to cook, there are recipe books that you can find simple meals. Right? I think the Whole 30 has recipes that will really provide you with healthy meals. There's a recipe book called Paleo One Sheet. And that's where you actually put everything in one sheet, stick it in the oven, and you have all these greats meals, lots of vegetables. Dr. Mark Hyman just wrote a book, What to Eat. And he has some recipes in there.

You know, you can also look at some family recipes and look at them and maybe just by eliminating flour and sugar, you can create a similar kind of food, but making it healthier. In the next few weeks, I'll be doing an interview with Benay Dara-Abrams and she's been teaching me about flavors and tastes. And I'm going to share with you information as to how to understand your own flavor and taste profiles. Because I didn't even realize this, but we all are different and we all experience taste differently, which is something I never thought of. So, when I'm eating a tomato, it tastes different to me than perhaps when you're eating a tomato. And I also learned that flavor is really a broader perception and that it includes many of our primary senses like what something looks like, the smell, the texture, the taste, even the tactile, the sound. Imagine that. The sound of crunch. That could be something that you're expecting and that you would like. Or perhaps there's something called irritation which is like something bubbly or hot sauce. So, understanding all of your food preferences, you can actually take them and apply them and seek out healthy foods that will satisfy your senses.

A simple example could be enhancing your visual experience. Maybe you buy a pretty plate. You get some nice place settings. The smells are important. Maybe you add some spice that you really like because you like the smell. Maybe the textures. Maybe you want some crunch and you add some pumpkin seeds for crunch, which is a healthy food. And these can support you in changing your junk food habits.

And so, you can become enamored of the foods that provide you with health rather than these foods that are created in a laboratory only for your convenience. And they are cheap, right? Which is what we think is a good thing. But if you think about it, spending cheaply on food today, what happens? Your healthcare in the future is so expensive in addition to feeling discomfort and pain. I really highly recommend that you consider looking at your food choices more from a wholistic point of view and finding the foods that are going to support you in your health.

Now, at the same time, it's really important for me and my clients, whatever the food plan is that we create, right, it has to be sustainable. It means that you have to be able to choose healthy foods that you can stick to for the rest of your life.

And I love to simplify it. And that's what I'm going to do here. I'm going to help you simplify it.

And the key to simplification is planning. Advance work. Preparation makes eating after a long day out a simple task. Right? You come home, the food's there, you eat it. It becomes a great achievement as opposed to a disaster and a disappointment.

So, we are going to agree that for weight loss, we're going to eliminate as best as possible junk food, high sugar foods, and processed foods. They are gone to the best of your ability, other than if you're going to plan an exception. Okay?

The first thing I want you to do is to create a food matrix. Now, I got this from Rob Wolf's book Wired to Eat. And he created this for his clients who were complaining that they were bored with food and the kinds of foods that they were eating. And what you do is you actually create a list of all the foods you like and you write them down. And I like to break into protein, raw veggies, cooked veggies, fruit, oil, and spices.

For example, I am going to share my food matrix.

My protein list -- I actually have 15 different things. My vegetables I have 30. My salad, which is my raw vegetables, I have 16 items. My fats, I have eight. And spices and spice blends combine to about 30.

For instance, proteins for me ... Black beans, chicken breasts, chicken thigh, cottage cheese, ground beef, halibut, hard cheese, lamb chops, New York steak, and then I have nut butters, and nuts. I have pork chops, ricotta cheese, salmon, sausages, and turkey. So that is just a sampling of if you look at what I ate over the last six months, those are probably the things that I have eaten. Now, vegetables, there's artichoke hearts, asparagus, broccoli, broccoli rabe, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collard greens, corn, eggplant, fennel, green beans, kale, leeks, mushrooms, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, spaghetti squash, spinach, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, turnip, winter squash, yams, yellow summer squash, and zucchini.

Now that's 30 different varieties of vegetables. And then as I said, I break out the salad into the raw vegetables, which I'll read to you. Avocado, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumber, one of my favorites jicama, lettuces, peppers, radicchio, radishes, spinach, sprouts, I love sprouts, seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, and water crests. This is such a variety for me to choose from that I never feel that I'm not going to have enough to eat or that I'm not going to have the variety that I may want to eat.

And when Rob Wolf did his matrix, so for example, his matrix was 27 proteins, 24 veggies, five fats, and 25 herbs and spices. And by creating a different meal, one from each column, he came up with 81 thousand different meals. In that sense, you can actually create a different meal for the next 221 years, not eating the same thing twice.

Now, I don't think we need to go to that extreme. But that just shows you that from your mindset, if you look, you create a matrix, and you look at all the things that you like to eat and how you can combine them differently, you will have great options to choose from.

The first thing is you create your matrix. Right? You put everything there that you like to eat. And then you say, "Okay, next week is coming. I'm going to eat three meals a day." Or if you're intermittent fasting, "Maybe two meals a day." And you decide, "I'm going to do some chicken and fish. Maybe I'll have tofu and some hamburgers. And then for vegetables, maybe I'll get some corn, some zucchini, what's in season today, maybe? And make sure I have some vegetables for my salad. I'll get some tomatoes, some avocado, and some spices. Maybe we'll do an Indian spice or we'll do a Mexican spice." You actually create the idea of maybe you'll have three or four different kinds of meals that you will create.

Now I want you to be sure you review your calendar. So, don't just look at the next week without actually looking at your calendar. Because maybe one of those nights you'll be eating out. Or maybe you have an appointment, a doctor's appointment and you're going to need to bring an extra meal with you. Or maybe you have lunch plans with someone. You really want to get a good sense of what's going on in your life that week as you start to plan.

What are the foods you're going to eat for next week? Once you come up with your list, you say, "Okay, this is what I'm going to have." And then you create a shopping list and you go shopping and you buy what it is that is on your list.

Now, you may already know this. But you do not want to go shopping when you're hungry or when you're tired. And you want to take your list with you and if you're like me and you love crossing things off, just take a pen and put that thing in your basket and cross it off the list. So that's the fourth item is to create a shopping list and go shopping.

Now five, I like to add to that shopping list to always have some frozen vegetables and frozen fruit on hand in the freezer. This is in case things come up, things happen and you don't want to run out of food. You don't want to be standing there wondering what there is to eat and being faced with the choice of junk food versus real food. So frozen vegetables and frozen fruit on hand in the freezer is a great option to have in case something comes up.

And then number six is you want to decide what you're going to eat at least 24, 48 hours in advance. Now, you might say, "Aye, yai, yai, how do I know what I'm going to want to eat tomorrow?" Well, I am going to ask you, you decide today what it is you're going to eat tomorrow. And remember, there's a goal here. You are working towards changing your habits. And part of changing your habits is developing new habits.

So always planning 24 to 48 hours in advance is going to give you so much relief, so much stress relief because you're going to have a plan to follow. The food will be there. You will not have to worry about what it is you're going to eat or how you're going to stick with your plan.

And the seventh item is to batch cook. So, I love doing this. This is really what makes eating this way work for me. I make a salad, a big salad that is going to last at least two days for four different meals. For you it could last for four days. But for me, I have a salad with each meal. So, when I make a nice big salad, I have a big bowl and I put it in there. And I may not put in the tomatoes because they'll get soggy. But I just make that salad so when I'm ready to eat, if I come home and I'm late and I'm hungry, the food is there. I just grab my tongs and I serve myself some salad.

The same thing with vegetables or with protein. If you're going to roast something or barbecue some protein, you want to make a little bit extra so you can have it for two days in a row or every other day or tonight's dinner, and maybe two days in advance it'll be lunch. Or maybe if you don't mind, you have tonight's dinner, tomorrow for lunch. That certainly works for me.

So, when you have a little bit more on hand, it's always there for you in case you get home late, you're running late, and you want to eat quickly. It also is there for you ... Let's say you want to pack your food so you have it ready to pack in case something comes up where you need to bring a meal.

Those are the most important.

You get your matrix, number one.

You create your weekly food plan, number two.

You review your calendar, number three.

You create your shopping list, number four.

And number five is always preparing with frozen vegetables and fruit.

And number six, always deciding what you're going to eat 24 to 48 hours in advance.

And number seven, to batch cook and prepare large salads and an abundance of veggies and proteins.

Now, a couple more tips that I want to give you that makes this work is you want to have enough glass containers and bowls with covers so that when you are prepacking or storing these cooked foods in the fridge, you actually have something easy to pack them in.

I also recommend that you start to learn about the impact of food on your health. Because when you're making these changes, if you keep thinking, "Ah, but a donut, but a donut" and you understand the inflammatory qualities of that donut, you may then, your brain will actually decide, okay, I'm going to choose the fruit instead.

The other thing I like to do is I like to recommend once I while try something new. Maybe it's a new spice or go after a new vegetable that you haven't ever eaten before. Or find a new recipe that is going to fit into your flavor profile, the kinds of foods that you like to eat. You can do research. And maybe just once a month you can introduce something new to your food so that you have more of a variety in your food palette.

In any case, this is what I'm talking about. If you know that you're going to eat something you like and it's on your matrix, home much more willing will you be to change because you know the food there is something you like, you put on there. And when you start to plan, your life becomes less stressful, right?

You want to create that shopping list and stick to it. And I really think the most important thing is keep it simple. Especially at the beginning as you're developing new habits. Pick simple foods that you like. You can roast your vegetables. You can roast your meats. You can steam them. You can use an instant pot or a slow cooker or a grill. Keep it simple and make it foods that you will enjoy. And really important to make this work and stick to it is to plan 24 to 48 hours in advance and make the decision you're going to stick with the plan that you have. Now, once in a while, if it goes off, maybe you decide you're going to cook fish and you open it up and it just doesn't smell right, obviously you're not going to eat something that's bad.

But you want to for the most part, that should be something that happens very rarely ... But for the most part, you make a plan, you have that food, and you stick to that plan.

Now I want to talk about My Favorite Thing this week. And if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend you go find online at YouTube Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney and James Corden. I was just so thrilled Paul McCartney, who I have to say wasn't always my favorite Beatle, but the truth is that he is a magnificent talent. And the combination of his talent with the rest of the Beatles is just been a phenomenon. And in this Carpool Karaoke, John goes back to Liverpool and visits all the places where he wrote all of his songs and gives us an insight into how he wrote his songs. And it is the most touching and joyful experience for me watching it. I was just blubbering. And I highly recommend for you to watch it. What a gracious man. And so much fun.

I just love the Beatles songs. I know all the words. And that's my story and I'm sticking to it. So I hope you enjoy Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney.

Thank you for listening to today's episode of It's Never too Late to Lose Weight. If you know someone who's approaching 60 and struggling with weight or wellness, I want to talk to them. Send them to this podcast and to my website, www.beauprecoaching.com. Help me to spread the word to our perennials and our future perennials that it's never too late. I'll talk to you soon. Bye bye.

Thanks for listening to this episode of It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight. If you like what you heard and want more, head over to Never2Late.info/guide to download your quick start guide to jumpstart your weight loss plan and begin creating an amazing life you love.