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The Plan for Those Who Have Ample Time to Prepare Healthy Meals at Home

The Plan for Those Who Have Ample Time to Prepare Healthy Meals at Home

The cornerstone of weight loss is healthy eating, with fewer calories and lower fat. Obviously, adding a solid exercise routine is going to help with weight loss, but your healthy diet is the most important factor when it comes to dropping extra pounds.


Some people have little time for pouring over recipes, making shopping lists and reading food nutrition labels, let alone cooking balanced and wholesome meals. But some people do make time for that.


If you have the time to devote to creating healthful meals at home, you're in a great position for losing the weight you want to lose! You have complete control.


Possibly the best option for dieters is to do their own meal planning and preparation. This is because it puts you squarely in the driver's seat. You can incorporate the foods you enjoy into dishes that are low in fat and calories, but high in nutrition, giving you a creative outlet, and allowing you to decide exactly how your diet is going to go.


Preparing healthy meals at home means that you'll have to learn about reading food labels, and you'll have to devote some time to planning. But in the long run, this is to your advantage, and you'll probably save money along the way, too.


It's no secret that it’s almost always cheaper to cook a meal at home than to go out to eat. When you factor in nutrition, it's definitely a better value, considering that foods prepared at restaurants are often full of fat, sodium and preservatives to extend their shelf life. Fresh meals made at home are simply better for you.


If you already love to cook, this way of losing weight will be great for you. You might need to make some ingredient and portion adjustments, but you're ahead of the game because you already know how much fun it can be to create a wonderful home cooked meal, or to pack a lunch from fresh ingredients.


If you don't consider yourself a cook, but you have the time to make your own meals, consider this an opportunity to get in touch with your creative side and to learn a very useful and new skill. You're going to learn how to make healthy meals that are going to help you shed pounds!


How to Eat


Eating a healthy diet really has no hard and fast rules, even when it comes to losing weight. In spite of this, there are plenty of guidelines to follow that will help you prepare meals that are both tasty and healthy, and that will help you on your path to weight loss.


Before you start planning and creating meals that are right for your diet, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of healthy eating.


First off, think about calories. Even if you're trying to lose weight, you still need enough calories for your body to keep itself healthy. That amount will depend on your body type and build, age, gender, and how much you exercise every day. But to lose weight, you do need to take in fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight.


Your doctor or nutritionist can help you determine the correct number of calories you need every day. Or you can search online for a caloric needs calculator. These are good, but not exact tools.


Make sure that you incorporate a wide variety of foods into your meals. You should strive to eat lots of fruits, whole grains and vegetables, and complement them with lean meats and low-fat dairy products.


Watch your sodium intake. Sodium can contribute to water retention in your body. When your body retains water, you feel puffy and bloated and you weigh more.


Remember to practice portion control. Many of us have distorted ideas of what a single serving of a given food looks like. It's often much smaller than we think! To get a good understanding of what a portion of a given food actually is, read nutrition labels.


There are many portion guides online that give you excellent illustrations of correct portion sizes for many foods, such as a single meat serving being the size of a deck of cards.


You can have treats and desserts, especially if you've prepared them yourself and you know the ingredients involved. Use moderation with sugary sweets and fried foods. When you can, cook with low-fat ingredients and avoid fried foods and bake instead.


Don't forget about water. You should include lots of fresh water in your healthy home cooked diet. Your body needs it to regulate all sorts of bodily functions and to flush out toxins, but water fills you up so you’re not as hungry.


When planning your home cooked healthy meals, start by taking your favorite recipes and analyzing them a bit. Are they high in fat and calories? Can you substitute ingredients to make them better for your diet? Sometimes, you can even use less of an ingredient and still have great taste.


Think about homemade pizza for example. Why not use less cheese? You save in fat and calories, and it still tastes great! And what about eggs? Whole eggs have about 75 calories and five grams of fat, whereas egg whites have about 16 calories and no fat.


If you don’t like the taste of egg whites, but you’re planning to make 3 scrambled eggs, then use the yolk of only one egg and just the whites of the others to help maintain taste and coloring without the extra calories.


As you plan your meals, you might want to start out by planning for a week. Remember that you have to eat breakfast, you need a lunch, and you'll be hungry at the end of the day for dinner. Planning will take some time, but it will be a huge help in your diet.


Make a detailed list of everything you'll need from the grocery store, and remember to plan for healthy snacks, too. When you're shopping, stick to your list. And it’s preferable that you shop on a full stomach so you’re not tempted to throw extra unhealthy foods into your basket.


Read labels to choose the meal ingredients that are nutritionally best. The nutrition label will tell you the serving size and how many servings come in the package. It will also tell you how many calories per serving you'll get, and the amount of fat calories per serving.


Other important details on nutrition labels include total fat (noting how much is saturated, and trans fat), cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, protein and vitamin and mineral content.


Generally speaking, lower fat, cholesterol, and sodium is good. And carbohydrates should be higher in fiber and lower in sugars.


Earlier, I mentioned that making your own meals is a great way to save money, and it is. You can maximize your savings by planning your meals so that you can buy some items in bulk. Usually when you purchase larger packages, you get a better price. And using coupons for savings on the foods and ingredients you use most will help enhance savings, too.


And remember that you don't necessarily have to buy the most expensive name brand grocery items. Often, you can buy the house brand at a better price and get the same nutritional value. Compare prices and labels.


Other good ways to save at the store are to stock up on healthy ingredients you know you will use, and then store them or cook meals ahead and freeze them. If you quit buying soda and those fancy flavored water drinks, and drink water instead, you'll save calories and money. And if you opt for more vegetarian dishes and fewer with meat as a main ingredient, you'll be able to cut your grocery bill, too.


Exercise Tips


Now that you're well on your way to a healthy diet for weight loss, thanks to devoting yourself to planning and preparation of delicious and healthful meals, it's time to rev up your metabolism and get your body burning off those extra calories.


If you have the convenient sort of schedule that allows you to devote time to prepare meals, you probably have some time for getting enough exercise, too, and that makes you very lucky!


You'll most likely be able to do your exercise program in one block of time each day, so you have some choices that people who have to cut their exercise time into small bites don't have.


If you like, you can get your daily exercise done and out of the way first thing in the morning. Morning is a great time to exercise, providing you with energy for the day and acting as a natural way to relieve stress and help keep your mood balanced all day long. Plus, you only have to shower once then, after you work out and before your work day begins.


Why not jump on a treadmill in the morning while you're watching the news, or plug in a DVD - anything from kickboxing, to dance, to those video workouts that you like best. Zumba is one type of dancing video workout that’s gaining in popularity because it’s fun. 


Or, if the weather is nice and you love the outdoors, go for a blood-pumping bike ride, or a fast-paced walk. Don't forget that there might be a pool that’s open to the public nearby (or maybe you're fortunate enough to have one in your backyard), and gyms are great places to get in shape and meet new friends, too.


Don't neglect working with weights or doing resistance exercises for building muscle and increasing strength. Many exercise DVDs include both cardio and strength training in their programs. If you use a local gym, you'll find weight machines and free weights that you can use to help you increase muscle strength, which also boosts your metabolism.


No matter how healthy the meals you plan are, exercise is going to boost your weight loss, and it will be well worth the time you carve out of each and every day to get yourself moving, jogging, dancing, lifting weights, swimming, biking or hiking. Strive to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise in at least five days a week. You'll see results.


Mindset Motivation


With a goal in mind of improving your diet by creating healthy homemade meals that are lower in fat and calories and higher in nutrition, you're making a positive change for both your body and mind.


A mindset like this promises to not only improve your health and weight, but to improve the health and lives of your whole family. You’re providing everyone in your family with the basis for optimal health and longevity via a great diet and healthy new eating habits.


Plus, you're setting an example for them by exercising regularly, and eating right. You're even showing them how bad habits, such as eating a poor diet, can be exchanged for great habits that affect every aspect of life in a positive way. Good for you!


How can you take this healthy new mindset and let it improve your life and the lives of your loved ones even more?


Why not invite your kids or your spouse to join in the fun of preparing delicious, healthy meals? Why not teach them how to plan a meal that’s great tasting, and healthy, too? Can you experiment together with creating tasty desserts that are lower in calories and fat, but still satisfying?


How about spending time together getting exercise? There are plenty of things you can do on your own to get fit, and there are things you can involve your partner or kids in, too. Try a brisk walk on the local nature trail, or go roller-skating together.


If you're single, this new, healthy mindset is an excellent way to meet new friends at a cooking or nutrition class, or at a fitness center. And you can invite guests over and share some wonderfully prepared, and oh-so-delicious healthy meals with them.


Don't forget that even as a single person, you're setting an example for your work colleagues, family and circle of friends.


All the way around, use this mindset to continue to motivate you to your goals and to enjoy the new, healthy life you're creating for yourself with every meal and every step you take on your treadmill.


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