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To Meet Your Health Goals, Planning is Essential

lunch plans

When striving to consistently make healthful food decisions, the biggest obstacle to overcome is time. Most of us work all day and have busy schedules outside of work—time at home is scarce and, therefore, must be managed efficiently. There are precious few hours to squeeze in all of the activities important to our health and well-being: cooking, exercise, household chores, quality time with family and friends, and adequate sleep.

This is why fast-food outlets and quick-service restaurants have become so successful and ubiquitous—they sell convenience. Billions of burgers, fries and pizzas are sold every year because most people don't take the time to plan their families' meals ahead of time Unfortunately, because these food outlets sell predominantly low-nutrient, disease-causing foods, lack of planning translates into compromising health, not to mention spending excessive amounts of money on these convenient, but damaging foods. Eating healthfully has only begun to gain popularity in recent years, so very few restaurants or fast-food outlets provide foods that are both healthful and convenient. Even vegetable-centered dishes are often prepared with way too much oil and salt.

Planning meals ahead of time is essential for leading a healthful lifestyle. You must prepare and organize your time and your kitchen so that you have delicious, healthful meals within reach at all times. When you make it convenient to eat healthfully, you keep temptation at bay, and avoid falling back into destructive, but familiar old habits when you are pressed for time.

Dr. Fuhrman shares practical advice on
how to take control of your health destiny.

Having a schedule and a routine will help you utilize your time more efficiently and cut down on stress, helping you to succeed at achieving your health and weight-loss goals. Create a simple weekly schedule, like the one shown below. Choose which days you will do your grocery shopping, and which days you will cook. Before shopping, decide what you will cook so that you can prepare a detailed list. Cook in large batches, so you can get several meals out of a few short hours spent in the kitchen. Find a local restaurant or health-food store with a big salad bar so that you have a resource for healthful meals away from home. Next, schedule in exercise—if you've cooked the night before, there will be a meal conveniently waiting for you after you finish work and exercise. Then, add in your social activities, other housework, and time with family. Of course, be sure that you leave enough time to get adequate sleep. Sleep and social connections are just as important to your well-being as healthful foods and exercise.

By taking a few hours for planning, shopping and cooking each week, you can secure long-term health and a more pleasurable life, plus save yourself a lot of money.

Sample weekly schedule:

Food Exercise
Sunday Shop and cook Yes
Monday Eat leftovers No
Tuesday Eat leftovers Yes
Wednesday Shop and cook No
Thursday Eat leftovers Yes
Friday Eat leftovers No
Saturday Eat out or salad bar Yes
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