An action focused 7 day meal planner...

Your usual 7 day meal planner is designed to plan the foods and meals you're going to eat over a week. The aim is that a weekly meal planner makes life easier, which it does, because you know in advance what you need to buy, what you're going to make, and you don't have to think about it on the day, or in the last five-minutes, you're prepared and therefore less likely to resort to less healthier, higher calorie options.

You can use a 7 day meal planner in a very different way too, to help you focus on one or two specific aims when you're losing weight. Using a weekly meal planner this way is quick, easy, and a great way to help you work towards healthier eating.

A quick easy 7 day meal planner for better eating

When I was losing weight I found that one of the biggest difficulties I had was remembering that I should be eating more fruit and vegetables.

I knew that one of tricks to maintaining long term weight loss was going to be increasing my intake of both of these, and decreasing my intake of high fat and high sugar foods.

I also knew that because I wanted to be fit, healthy and still had weight to lose, that eating more fresh vegetables and fruit was a no-brainer.

So I devised a 7 deal meal planner with a difference. It's very simple, very easy, but it made tracking what I was actually eating, and reminding myself of what I should be doing very easy.

Simply, I divided a sheet of paper into three columns. I headed the first 'Days of the week" and wrote in four weeks worth of days, Monday to Sunday. I headed the next column fruit, and next to each day I drew two little empty squares, with enough room in them to fill with a tick. I did the same in the third column, which I headed vegetables, only here I drew 5 little squares.

The squares represented the serves of fruit and vegetables I wanted to incorporate into my day.

Each day, whenever I had a piece of fruit or a serve of vegetables I'm fill the appropriate square with a tick.

To start with my vegetable and fruit weekly meal planner wasn't looking so good, there were a lot of empty squares, with no ticks.

But just the act of looking at it on the fridge brought it to my attention, and over the four week period I managed to average about 3 serves of vegetables a day, and the two serves of fruit.

I did this 4 x 7 day meal planner three times, and there was a big difference from the first sheet to the last.

My averages got better, until the last sheet showed that somedays I was having 6 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit.

Now, the thing about this is, as I got my fruit and vegetable serves up, my intake of processed foods went down. Why? Simply because when you're eating that amount, they take up a lot of room in your stomach, you don't need the other stuff, you're less hungry.

You can use this same idea for anything that you want to focus on.

If you've noticed that you consume a lot of red meat, and want to focus on more fish and a vegetarian meal, you can mark up a simple planner that has, for example, 3 squares for red meat, 2 for fish, 1 for vegetarian and one for chicken (that's 7...I think).

Then again, you mark off the box as you have it. You may find at first that you've got three ticks for red meat, even though there's only two boxes, and your vegetarian box is empty of ticks.

That's okay, each week, when you look at it, it will remind you of what you're focusing on, and you'll find that over time, you'll work those things into your standard weekly meal planner.

Losing weight and keeping it off is about finding simple strategies that make it easy for you to take the actions that will get you to your goal.

When you're making changes, it's easy to forget them in the normal routine, so it helps to have ways of reminding yourself what your doing. A 7 day meal planner focused on reminding you of what you need to do, can be a great strategy for working your way to weighing less, and getting healthier.

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