Not to be dramatic, but it did.
It wasn't until I was 30 years old that I came to the realization that I was the only one who could change my relationship with food. And if I was going to change the way I felt about food, I knew I had to find a way that worked for me.
Up until that life changing point, I was focused on how the food I was eating would make me feel in the moment.
My meal choices were always determined by my cravings, and my emotions.
Was I sad, happy, lonely, excited, anxious?
Whatever the emotion, I found food that matched that emotion.
Unfortunately, it was usually fried or greasy food, and 99% of the time it was takeout.
I never looked ahead.
I lived in the moment of "the here-and-now". And my food choices reflected that.
I sure was good at looking behind though.
Looking behind at what I HAD eaten, and regretting I had eaten it.
That’s as far as I would go.
Being in the present...
Making a decision on what I was going to eat...
And then replaying that moment in my mind over and over...
Feeling bad about my choice and regretting what I had done.
This was the cycle.
Over and over.
Day in and day out.
30 year old me was the one who realized I was the only one who could change the cycle.
I was the only one who could change what I was eating, and how I felt when I was eating.
I started out simple.
I had to make this new system something that was easy for me, or else I knew I would slide back into old patterns.
I started by making an itemized list every week for groceries.
In that list, I had my meals broken down into breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert.
Yes! You better believe I included dessert!!!
I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t on my list.
Each time I went into the grocery store, this was a conscious decision for me.
I knew that if I bought “extra” things, I would turn to that food when my emotions became too much to handle.
My cravings would win. Again.
To some, this may seem like restriction.
To me, it was control.
Conscious control over what I chose to bring into my house.
Conscious control over what I chose to put in my body.
Conscious control over how my emotions ran my decisions.
What I learned through this newfound control, was that I could be full and satisfied without having to unbutton my pants.
I learned to stop making decisions in the moment.
I learned that having conscious control left me feeling empowered, and with a new-found autonomy over my own body.
I didn't feel the helplessness that came with emotional eating.
I learned to ask myself these thoughtful questions:
Do I NEED this food right now, at this moment?
If I eat this food right now, how will it make me FEEL?
Today, at the age of 49, I still ask myself these questions.
I take a few minutes and refocus so that I can center myself.
I bring myself back to the moment of being aware of my food choices, and how my body feels.
While my meal prepping has evolved over the years to match the different seasons of my life, schedule and family, I continue to use it to make sure my emotions aren’t sabotaging my personal goals of feeling empowered and in control of HOW my body feels.
So How Did I Do It?
3 of the most common ways I use meal prepping in my life today are:
Batch Cooking - batch cooking is where you make several ingredients ahead of time that you can use to pull together to make a meal, or add to meals later in the week.
Examples ~ hard boiled eggs, large batch of quinoa or rice, 1 or more sheet pans of roasted vegetables, and Salsa Chicken (can be used for salads, tacos).
Freezer Meals - meals that are completely prepped and ready to be cooked at a moment’s notice. My favorite are meals I can have ready for the slow cooker or Instant Pot on those nights you don’t feel like cooking, or busy nights when you feel like a chicken with your head cut off!
Prep ahead of time - this is where you take a look at the meals you have planned for the week, and do what you can to do some prep ahead of time.
Example ~ Tuesday you have decided to make fajitas. You can marinate the meat ahead of time, cut up the peppers and the onions and store them in an airtight container. Having those ingredients prepped and ready will save you time when you are cooking it.
**You could also cut extra peppers for snacks during the week, as well as use the leftovers for your salad**
I Don't Believe In Quick Fixes.
I've tried them all.
I spent 19 years of my life trying to "crack the code"- only to discover that something as simple as meal planning and plating your food correctly can create the kind of freedom I had only dreamed of.
No longer do I stress about emotional eating.
I know I'm in control, and that is incredibly EMPOWERING.