To prep the kale for the salad, we’re going to add it to a large bowl with a little olive oil and rub all over the kale, massaging it until the kale reduces in volume and becomes less stiff. (This makes a huge difference in the texture of the kale and makes it much easier to eat. I like to buy pre-cut kale when I meal prep because it’s just easier and takes one less step out of the process.)
Habits and cravings are the devil when it comes to dieting. Let's first deal with habits. Juge explains that it takes a good week or two to ease into dieting. "Fast food is so easy and there's a McDonald's on every corner. The hardest thing is to develop the new habit of preparing your meals and taking them with you." The first week is the most difficult, so prepare yourself for some challenges as you abandon your usual routine. For example, you might usually go out for a sub sandwich or burger at lunch. You'll now have to bring your food with you and resist the temptation of spicing up your meal with the Doritos in the vending machine or your usual can of Coke. It can be a real mental battle to stick to your food plan.
Portion control is another key element of weight loss. Part of the process is understanding an actual serving size. Measuring high-calorie ingredients will help you learn to eyeball portions. Even calories from healthy foods add up. “One of the foods people love are healthy fats, which are great,” Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN, dietitian, and founder of Eat Chic Chicago says. Your definition of a handful of nuts might be four times bigger than an actual serving size, she warns.
It's not just breakfast that's important when it comes to weight loss. So is lunch. A 2015 article published in Current Obesity Reports notes that planned, regular eating habits play a big role in promoting a healthy weight. Enjoy 2 cups of minestrone soup with five whole-grain crackers and 1 ounce of low-fat cheddar cheese at your next lunch for 410 calories. A quinoa salad made with 1 cup of cooked quinoa tossed with 1 cup of mixed diced raw veggies such as grape tomatoes, red onions and peppers, 1/2 cup of firm pressed tofu, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and grated ginger for 390 calories also makes a good lunch option on your weight-loss diet. Or try a simple turkey sandwich made with two slices of whole-wheat bread, 3 ounces of turkey breast with lettuce, tomato and mustard and served with 6 ounces of nonfat yogurt, a small apple and 1 cup of sliced cucumbers for 440 calories.
Before you start the meal plan, make a pot of the Veggie Soup. Make 2 servings of Overnight Oats, so they can soak in the fridge. It’s also super helpful to prep your veggie snacks—make 4 bags filled with baby carrots and sugar snap peas, and 3 bags filled with broccoli and cauliflower, for alternate days. And if you really want to get ahead, you could also grill the chicken breasts and cook the quinoa and brown rice in advance.