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I used to look forward to Fridays, not only because it was payday, but it was the day when I would treat myself to fast food. This was a habit I developed in childhood that extended far into adulthood. It wasn't until was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren's syndrome that I started to consider the impact that my Friday night treat meals were having on my health.
After lots of research into the best ways to eat to manage an autoimmune disease, I discovered the autoimmune paleo (AIP) diet which according to Healthline is:
An elimination diet designed to help reduce inflammation or other symptoms caused by autoimmune disorders.
I'm not going to lie. As someone who binged on fast food every weekend, I wondered how in the world was I going to make the transition to an AIP diet? I have two words for you - meal planning!
Meal planning has hands-down made it so much easier to transition from binging fast food every weekend to maintaining an AIP diet.
As a nutrition coach who works with women living with autoimmune disease, I know that one of the biggest struggles that we experience is inflammation. Since inflammation is strongly linked to your diet and lifestyle, one of the best things you can do to improve your health is changing your diet.
While getting diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren's syndrome was the catalyst for changing my diet, it was meal planning that made it so much easier to actually make that change possible.
That's why in this post I'm sharing with you 4 simple tips to implement meal planning into your lifestyle.
4 Simple Tips to Implement Meal Planning into Your Lifestyle
1. Choose Anti-Inflammatory Recipes
When you're autoimmune eating an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the best things that you can do for your immune system. Not only are anti-inflammatory foods like berries, broccoli, and avocados, yummy, but they are important for your gut health. The healthier your gut, the more optimal your health will be.
So, if you're looking for places to find anti-inflammatory recipes, some of my favorites are:
- Recipe Books, like the Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook
- Recipe Blogs, like Meatified
- Pinterest Accounts, like Mine
2. Create Your Weekly Meal Plan
Planning the meals you're eating ahead of time is one of the best strategies for improving your diet. When you're simplify winging it you're going to choose the most convenient option even if it isn't the healthiest. That's why taking the time to create a meal plan is essential for setting yourself up for success during the week.
There are some very important things you want to consider when creating your weekly meal plan:
- The number of meals and snacks you want to eat each day, i.e. 3 meals and 2 snacks per day
- The number of meals and snacks you want to prepare each week, i.e. I'll cook 2 meals from scratch and order 3 meals from Freshly each week
- Your preferred meal prepping style, i.e. I will bulk cook all my meals every Sunday
3. Plan Your Grocery Shopping Trip
Making sure to take time to plan your grocery shopping trip is vital in ensuring you get the best bang for your buck. If you're going to the grocery store with no plan you'll likely find yourself walking aimlessly up and down aisles, or spending way more than you intended. Having a plan is the best way to save money and time when in the grocery store.
These are a few essential things to do when planning your grocery shopping trip:
- Create your grocery list in the kitchen so you can check your freezer, fridge, and pantry to see what you already have on hand.
- Organize your grocery list by aisle to help you get in and out of the grocery store with ease.
- Be selective of where you are grocery shopping to limit the number of stores you have to go to.
That said if you're someone who doesn't have a lot of time to grocery shop, one alternative you can use is a grocery delivery service like Instacart. Or, if you're looking for natural and organic products at a fraction of the price, Thrive Market is a great option to consider.
4. Make Time to Meal Prep
The key to making meal planning a part of your lifestyle is finding the right meal prepping routine that works best for you. When you do, you'll discover that meal planning and meal prepping make it so much easier to make healthier food choices. And, you can stop depending so much (or not at all) on fast food!
The three most common meal prepping styles are:
Batch cooking, i.e. set aside about 1-3 hours on a specific day of the week to prepare all your meals for the week.
Prep day, i.e. prep your ingredients ahead of time and cook them during the week.
Cooking as you go, i.e. prepare each meal as you go through the week.
The pro of cooking as you go is that once you do prepare your meals you will likely have leftovers. The con is if you don’t plan for leftovers you’ll be cooking every single meal or letting your food go to waste, which defeats the whole purpose of meal planning.
I know that making the shift from binging fast food to an autoimmune paleo diet might seem daunting. I promise with these four simple tips you'll be able to easily implement meal planning into your weekly routine and get back to living life to the fullest!
When you're ready to start using meal planning to heal your gut and manage your autoimmune disease, enroll in our FREE 5-Day Zero to Mastery Meal Planning Boot Camp!
Petre, A. (2020). AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) Diet: Overview, food list, and guide. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/aip-diet-autoimmune-protocol-diet