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9 Steps to Creating Your Own Diet Plan in 2020

A simple nine step guide for designing your own personal diet plan that caters specifically to your needs, allowing you to formulate an optimal routine and regimen for your dietary goals that you can stick with and follow through on in 2020.

Deborah Killion

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Popular diet books jam the shelves of your local bookstore. Would you like to try the South Beach Diet, Atkins, The Biggest Loser, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, GOLO or Jenny Craig? There are countless dieting and weight loss websites. Thousands of fitness trainers, nutritionists, doctors, and other experts have already done the hard work for you to create the perfect diet. But does a pre-existing diet really work for you? Can one diet fit every person's weight loss goals and body type?

The answer is no. You are unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all diet plan for every person who wants to lose weight. You know what your strengths and weaknesses are. For example, if you don't like to cook then a diet filled with recipes won't work for you. If you like to snack, then preparing large sit-down meals won't help your goals. The best way to stick to a diet plan and lose weight is to create your own.

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How to Create Your Own Personal Diet Plan

There are many diet plans to follow in 2020, but knowing what is optimal for your body type and goals can be a challenge. Here are nine different steps outlined to help act as a guide for helping you create and design your own diet plan that caters to your needs and demands.

1. Set 3 Weight Loss Goals

The first step in creating your own diet plan is to set your target weight loss as a goal. Write it down and commit the number to memory. Subtract your target weight from your current weight to see how many pounds you would like to lose. An excellent and reachable goal for average weight loss is to lose around 1-2 pounds a week. It's unrealistic to expect anything higher. If you always have this target weekly weight loss in mind rather than the total amount, then it seems less overwhelming. A novel is written one paragraph at a time, a house is built one brick at a time, and weight is lost one pound at a time.

Now you can estimate how many weeks it will take to reach your target weight loss. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, it will take about ten weeks. Write down the number of weeks, and check a calendar to find your target weight loss date. This is your second weight loss goal.

The third weight loss goal is to find and implement the diet plan that works for you by your target weight loss date. A diet plan will not work unless it is in alignment with your eating habits, budget, grocery shopping, cooking, and schedule. There are many components to juggle.

2. How Does Food Makes You Feel?

Doing a little bit of self-reflection to figure out your particular eating habits will be more helpful than simply starting the South Beach Diet. Your food habits go hand in hand with how you feel at the time. You feel camaraderie with loved ones during a dinner party, boredom while in front of the television, rushing while on your work lunch break, harried and frazzled while cooking a weekday dinner, relaxed and happy for Sunday morning brunch, and festive during holiday dinners. Comfort foods like mac and cheese and mashed potatoes remind you of home, ice cream is as cheerful as a summer day, and exotic gourmet can make you feel like you're on vacation in Thailand.

To figure out what emotions are driving your eating habits, keep a food journal. But you won't record what you eat, its portion sizes, or its calories. Instead, write down how you feel before eating, during the meal, and afterwards. If you notice that you mostly snack due to boredom, then you can be prepared for those times with healthy snacks and drinks. Continue to keep the food journal throughout your weight loss.

3. What's Your Food Schedule?

Each of us has a unique weekly schedule. A high-powered business executive in Manhattan has a completely different life than a stay-at-home mother in Kansas. One of the biggest obstacles to sticking with a preconceived diet plan is that it doesn't fit into your weekly schedule. By going through your daily life and finding the times to eat, you can be prepared with healthy foods.

Create a weekly chart of seven columns with the days of the week listed across the top. Block out the times for work, sleep, and your personal activities. Then write down the approximate times each day that you eat. You may skip breakfast every day because you're not a morning person and don't feel like eating so early. But at four in the afternoon, you head to the vending machine. Your evenings may be so busy with activities you don't have the time or energy to pack healthy lunches, thus purchasing a fast food lunch every day. The food schedule gives you an honest assessment of your real life.

4. Finding Your Meal Times and Snack Times

Due to our unique schedules varying from day to day, our meal times and snack times are constantly in flux. You may have two snacks on a weekday and multiple snacks on a weekend, or vice versa. Your food schedule gives you an idea of how you squeeze meals and snacks into your weekly life.

Take a blank sheet of paper and divide it into seven rows, one for each weekday. For each day, write down the types of meals you eat. For example, on Sundays you eat brunch, a snack around 4:30 p.m., and a light dinner. On Mondays you have a coffee at 7:00 a.m., a mid-morning snack at 10:00 a.m., a quick lunch, a snack in the car on the way home from work, dinner, and maybe another snack later in the evening. Using these guidelines, fill in the meal times list.

5. Create a Menu Plan

A menu plan needs to be flexible enough to fit with your schedule and fluctuating activities, and structured enough to provide a framework for healthier eating habits. The food schedule chart and the meal times list both give you an excellent starting point for crafting a menu plan.

You will need one blank sheet of paper for each weekday. Write the names of the meal times and the approximate time they take along the left-hand side of the page. For example, if you have fifteen minutes to eat breakfast, you'd write “Breakfast 15 min” on the page. Then write down meal ideas. Substitute unhealthy foods for healthier versions. Rather than vending machine snacks, write down “raw veggies” or “5 crackers with cheese slices.” If you like to cook, this is an excellent time to add favorite recipes. Continue creating menus for each weekday.

6. The Grocery List

The supermarket can be a dieter's best friend or worst enemy. It is a brightly lit, colorful store featuring ripe vegetables, fruits, cheese, milk, freshly caught fish, organic chicken, and whole-grain bread. It is also a retail business of food brands with enough sugar, fat, and calories to pack on an extra 100 pounds if you're not careful. The healthy foods are often on the same shelf as the unhealthy foods, so be mindful of what you spend your money on.

Based on your menu plan, the types of meals you eat throughout the week, and your food journal's emotional assessment, put together a grocery list. Divide the foods from your menu plan up into different categories. Get out your healthy recipes and add the ingredients to the list. You may want to create several different grocery list versions as your weeks change.

7. The Frugal Food Shopper

On top of everything else to consider about your new diet plan, including your emotional eating habits, your weekly schedule, and your menus, you also have a budget. Many people go into a grocery store with the best of intentions, but purchase unhealthy food items simply because they're on sale. Saving eighty cents is not a reason to buy empty calories.

There are a number of ways to save on your grocery bill. You can use coupons for healthy foods, comparison shop at different stores, use the store's discount card, or buy in bulk. The best kind of diet suits both your weight loss goals and your wallet.

8. Put it All Together

Now you are ready to put all of your hard work into practice. Go shopping at your local supermarket with your list, stock your cupboards with healthy foods, plan ahead throughout the week to pack healthy lunches and reach for healthy snacks, and be mindful of the relationship between emotions and eating habits. Weigh yourself every two weeks, and keep track of how you are doing in your food journal.

You may also want to implement an exercise program. Try different types of movement to put together the best fitness program for yourself. Look at your weekly schedule to see where you can fit in a half hour of yoga or sixty minutes in the pool. An extra twenty-minute walk around your neighborhood instead of a TV show couldn't hurt, either. Consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, to prevent any additional health issues.

9. The Lifetime Food Plan

All of these steps are guiding you towards the best healthy eating habits that fit with your schedule and your budget. One of your original weight loss goals was to discover a workable diet plan you could stick to for a long time.

Adjust your eating habits as needed throughout your life. Your life is constantly changing, so you need a flexible menu plan that keeps up with you. It's less about counting calories or fat grams and more about seamlessly integrating health with your life.

That's the ultimate lifetime food plan.

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