It isn’t just your physical health which can be improved by simplifying and improving your meal plan – by doing so, you’ll also be able to chose foods that actively heighten your positive mental state and improve your outlook on life. The foods and drinks which you put into your body can have a huge effect on your happiness and well-being.
You can eliminate stress by simplifying your meal plan.
If we stock up on those essentials, we can create simple meals that are tasty and quick easy to prepare. And by simplifying your eating habits, not only do you shorten prep time, but you save on your groceries as well.
- Simple. Everything should be quick and easy to prepare 10 minutes of prep time or cooking is long enough.
- Nutritious. We need to get fiber, complex carbohydrates, protein, good fats, and green vegetables etc.
- Best to minimise;
- Sugary comfort foods can provide quick energy, but unfortunately, sugar triggers cravings, overeating and weight gain.
- Minimise processed food. Processed food lacks fiber and nutrition.
- Less fried food that’s high saturated fat.
Active cultures in your meal plan
Yogurt doesn’t only make a healthy snacking option. Yogurts which are high in active cultures contain probiotics, healthy bacteria which studies have shown to have a direct correlation with the reduction of stress and anxiety.
Fermented foods, such as yogurt with active cultures, kefir, kimchi, tempeh and certain pickled vegetables, contain probiotics (healthy bacteria) and have been shown to reduce anxiety and affect the neurotransmitter GABA.
Making healthy choices and removing the clutter of processed and unhealthy foods from your meal plan doesn’t only aid your physical health, it also provides your body with the nutrients it needs to improve your mental health, happiness and energy levels.
When most of us think about boosting our brain power, diet is probably the last thing to come to mind. For most of us, the idea of boosting brain power and increasing cognitive function is something which we might do by participating in a thought-provoking debate or perhaps even playing ‘brain-training’ games. However, it turns out that one of the best ways to improve your mental health and energy is through your diet. Just like the brain, your gut has its own nervous system which sends information to your brain via the vagus nerve. This explains why it’s common to feel queasy or nauseous when you’re stressed or worried. Just as the brain can impact the gut, your gut can also influence your brain.
Protein is involved in the production of serotonin, one of the most commonly known brain chemicals. When the brain and body are deficient in serotonin, multiple body systems are affected such as mood, sleep and metabolic rate, as well as responses to physical pain. Serotonin is commonly associated with depression, and it’s a medical fact that imbalances of serotonin levels in the brain can significantly contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety and general low energy.
Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, beet and lentils are all high in folic acid, a substance which is linked directly to conditions such as depression, insomnia and fatigue.
If your diet is deficient in folic acid, you’re more likely to feel depressed, have less energy or struggle to sleep at night. When you are putting together your simplified diet plan, it’s vital to include lots of leafy greens which are high in folic acid into your meals in order to engineer a plan that significantly contributes to your happiness and well-being.
Broccoli is a food which contains selenium, a trace mineral which plays a highly important function when it comes to our immune systems, metabolism of the thyroid hormones and even reproduction. Some studies have suggested that low levels of this mineral in the body can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety as well as a lack of energy and fatigue.
In order to make meal planning the path of least resistance, we have to make it easy for ourselves to plan meals in advance.
Instead of having to create a new meal plan every week (sounds like a lot of work!), create a weekly meal plan that you can use as a baseline, and simply tweak from week to week.
The first time you do this it will take some time. But then, each week, all you’ll have to do is start with the template and adapt it to the upcoming week’s schedule and preferences.
Here’s how to do it.
- Decide what you’ll have for breakfast. Many people find it simplest to have the same breakfast most days, making changes from time to time.
- Decide on a range of lunches. If you buy your lunch, think of convenient places nearby that have healthy choices. If you make your lunch, consider preparing filling salads and leftovers.
- Decide, for a typical week, how many times a week, and on what nights, you will cook. Take into the account the way you usually feel – if you know you’ll be tired later in the week, don’t plan to cook on these nights.
- Decide how many serves you will cook each time – eg whether you’ll make enough for one night or several. If you have a family, you’ll need to take their serves into account, too.
- Decide on a range of snacks. Fruit, a serve of nuts and yoghurt are good, easy choices.
Taking the Next Step. If you need practical assistance, guidance or motivation Clear & Clutterfree can help you save both time and money getting organised and staying organised.
About the Author. Karen Perkins is a Life Coach and Personal Hands-on Organiser. She enjoys helping busy people achieve results through effective lifestyle choices that improve their personal and professional lives.