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Part 5: Week at a Glance - Meal Plan
Welcome back to My RA Story! If you're new here, make sure to check out week 1 to get an overview of my story and what's been going down over the past five weeks. It's been a rollercoaster for me health-wise since baby, going from feeling pretty great right after to feeling like my body is shutting down today. The unhealthy holiday food fest definitely didn't do me any favors, but it appears that there may be more going on with my thyroid or other things that are effecting me. I'm hoping to get more answers tomorrow and adjust meds as needed - which brings me to my next point. It's a fine line we walk between wanting to eat healthy and exercise to stay off/get off of meds, but also accepting that modern medicine exists for a reason and sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is follow your doctor's advice. Often times for those of us with autoimmune diseases the trick is finding the right balance of both.
Last week we launched the melaniewinters.com accountability group to help bring people together to share nutrition and fitness tips, goals, wins, losses and epic fails. It's gotten way more traction right of the bat than I thought it would and it's been so fun to get to know people from all over and cheer them on! Whether you have an autoimmune disorder, are struggling with some other health issue, or are healthy as an ox - this group is for you! It's all about living a healthier lifestyle and meeting goals! Join us today!
Through this group I've heard about so many people struggling to put healthy food on the table for a variety of reasons - new babies, busy work schedules/unusual shift times, lack of know-how in the kitchen, lack of discipline (I'm guilty as charged), etc. When we are worn down and time is low, it's so easy to just throw in a frozen pizza and call it a day. It seems easier to grab fast food for lunch than it is to prep ahead of time and bring your own healthy lunch to work. Snacks throughout the day? It can be overwhelming to find, afford and pack healthy options to snack on throughout the day but it is so essential that we do. When we let our bodies get depleted and we become overly hungry it's easy to binge on something we otherwise wouldn't.
Enter the meal plan. Now, I know you're busy. I'm not asking you to sit down and write out what you plan on eating for every meal each day. I don't do that. You don't need to waste your time doing it. But if you're struggling to make good choices, it might be a good idea to lay it all out for the first few weeks. Once you get into better eating habits, it will become second nature and you don't need to keep jotting it down. I use Google Keep, to keep track of my dinner plans throughout the week and make my grocery list. I don't plan out my breakfasts or lunches though because I've gotten into a routine. Do what works for you. If you want some ideas for week-long dinner plans, visit our blog's Menu Plan section.
I've put together the table below that walks you through what a normal week looks like for me. Our menu plan section of the blog has direct links to all sorts of great dinner recipes like the ones listed below. Every week, my grocery list includes freshly sliced oven roasted turkey breast and some sort of cheese from the deli, fresh baby spinach and Romaine lettuce. If all else fails, I know I can always have a healthy and delicious lettuce wrap for lunch. I also am in the habit of making a superfood smoothie for breakfast everyday. I use kale/spinach, half of the banana I use to make my baby's breakfast, frozen antioxidant mixed berries, yogurt, orange juice and chia seeds. Sometimes that's all I need along with my coffee and yogurt to get me to lunch (or a mid-morning snack), other times I'm feeling hungry and need to add some GF toast or a bagel.
Find what works for you and your schedule. If there are certain foods that make your symptoms worse (night shades or dairy, for example), be sure to avoid those and substitute alternatives as needed. Prep ahead if you need to, or plan accordingly to make sure you're eating all that fresh food up before it goes bad. Take advantage of crock pot recipes and always cook in bulk! Instead of just making up two chicken breasts for my husband and I for dinner, I cook up the entire package and save the rest for dinners throughout the week.
My last bit of advice for now - don't write off good-for-you-foods because you think you don't like them (i.e. Brussels sprouts). Look into how to properly prepare them and find highly rated recipes if you need one. Approach food with an open mind, make sure it's deliciously prepared and re-evaluate your preferences. You may still find that you just can't stomach cottage cheese, but hey, you may find that you do, indeed, enjoy seafood!
- Eating healthy can be easy AND delicious (see table above)
- Eating unhealthy can be just as easy and delicious so you can quickly fall into bad habits - join our accountability group to try to avoid this!
- Planning dinners/meals ahead of time can help you stay on track AND reduce food waste. Yay.
- What you eat directly effects how you feel and how your body functions. Struggling with other issues? Address your diet first and foremost and then take it from there. You'd be amazed what a balanced and healthy diet can do for you.