The Boring Answer To Our Health Problems
There hasn't been a ton of scientific research regarding meal planning, but this very recent 5 year study by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that planning your meals is correlated with diet quality and weight. I'm sure this conclusion doesn't surprise many of you. So if we know how to get healthier, why are we still struggling so much with weight in a way that seriously jeopardizes our health, lifespan, and quality of life? The study also shows that "time scarcity and cooking skills were identified as common barriers to prepar[ing] home meals." I'm sure this conclusion doesn't surprise many of you either.
So, most of us know that eating out less will lead to better health, but a perceived lack of time and cooking skills (and probably the allure of easy pizza or burgers or burritos) are contributing to the obesity epidemic that is considered "one of the three most urgent health concerns" in our country, is very strongly linked to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and costs $190 billion per year in weight-related medical bills.
Meal planning is not really the most inspiring topic to discuss in the health community. Compared to intense workouts (OMG, legs are burning from doing 1,000 body weight squats!!!), pictures of impossible yoga poses and swinging big ropes, and motivational quotes about doing one more rep, pushing a cart through a crowded grocery store while struggling to figure out what could go with avocados is definitely way less cool. Not to say that working out isn't great for you, but we know diet is the more important factor (80% perhaps?), and good, old-fashioned consistency, planning, and cooking are the boring, effective answers to improving health and quality of life.
But what if you really don't have time to plan, shop, and cook, or don't know how to cook meals that are tasty and healthy? This is where the problem makes the most sense, because takeout is definitely way more convenient and immediately satisfying. Aside from a solution like 80Fresh that requires little time, effort, and skills (shameless plug... well, it is our blog, so not unexpected), what can be done to help these people from avoiding the downward spiral of health problems caused by obesity? The hard answer here is motivation and prioritizing. We must realize how important our health is (very), that our quality of life is worth maximizing, prioritize that against other regular activities (can you cut out 15 minutes of TV to plan a few meals?), and start trying to make small changes (cook the easiest recipe you can find that looks good) that are the first steps in gaining control over our health. Then we must build on these habits consistently.
If you fall into the category of "don't have time/desire/skills to cook," we totally get it. We started there too - that's why we created 80Fresh. But if you need another solution, try to make some time to plan and prep just one meal. You'll realize it's not that hard, and if you do it enough, you can start to take control of your greatest asset.