Do you ever eat a cookie for brekky because you didn’t plan in advance enough and have any healthy breakfast options at home? How about lunch? Do you skip it or order Chinese food four days a week? Me too! My best friend is a physical trainer who also runs a meal prep company and is constantly reminding me that I need to plan my food. When I plan, I eat healthy things, I eat enough, I am never hangry, and I sleep better. When I don’t plan, I eat dumplings or Jimmy Johns, skip meals, often get hangry, and have trouble falling asleep (likely from the 9pm alcoholic ice cream dinner).
I’m cognizant of this and I still struggle to plan, but I have continuously been practicing it and getting better. This experience made me interested in human behavior in general and the link between meal planning and time planning. And I have been exploring this with my team and my network.
Here are the lessons I learned through observational data collection:
- If you plan your meals, you will plan your time.
In general, people have a tendency to plan or not to plan – there is no middle ground. When people start with planning something easy, like food, it helps organize their brains to think through how and when they will eat. Which requires people to look at their calendars.
- Healthier meals increase productivity.
When people are eating regularly and nutrient-dense food, they are more focused. They are finding it much easier to get through the tasks of the day and feel more accomplished at the end of the day. There is a whole field of research around nutritional psychiatry. Check out this Harvard article talking about it.
- Planning food increases water consumption.
Planning meals and snacks forces you to take breaks. Taking breaks means that you will be more likely to fill up your water bottle and actually drink it. Drinking water leads to higher productivity as well! Imagine that. There are a million articles talking about this. Check out this one on Bloomberg.
- Food anxiety is real.
People are wired to be concerned about where their next meal is coming from. Using that headspace worrying about the next meal is not great for appropriate time management. When people planned their meals, they were not distracted by hunger or figuring out where to get food from.
While the link between food and time management is not direct, there is a link. I encourage you to try planning a bit around food and water intake and see how it affects you personally. Post your results in the comments!