Eating five times daily, as most know we should, is difficult if you also want to eat cleanly by limiting artificial and processed ingredients. That’s partly why so many have recently turned to weekly meal prepping.

The ultimate goal should be eating well-balanced daily meals – breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and supper. But considering modern life’s hectic pace, it is not surprising so many either snack indulgently or wait until they’re famished before gorging on too-large meals. Both behaviors lead to disrupted metabolisms, weight gain, mood swings, and chronic fatigue.  Avoiding all this is the primary benefit of intensive weekly meal prepping, which entails planning, purchasing, and then preparing a full week of food in advance.

To get started, consider what you’ll eat for each meal and snack throughout the week and make an exhaustive grocery list. Besides eliminating the need for mid-week shopping, this will save time at the store and avoid undue enticement by the dreaded interior sweets aisles.

Many adherents choose to do the bulk of the work required on Sundays and then store their meals and snacks in individual containers for easy access.  While it’s true most of us are not top athletes or fitness professionals, whether you have diabetes, are watching your weight, or are just trying to keep your energy-levels high, some level of weekly meal planning will force you to consider everything you eat.  This increases your awareness of what your body needs, as opposed to what it only wants.

Of course, despite our best intentions, allowances must be made for nights out and take-out at unexpected work meetings. Nevertheless, weekly meal prepping will alert you to every exception so it won’t become the new rule.

Another unexpected benefit of meal planning comes from its focus on healthy, substantial snacking. Many people avoid snacks out of fear of their additional calories. But healthy snacks such as yogurt, nuts, and fresh fruit eaten two to three hours before each meal will actually stave off the sudden hunger pangs that might otherwise induce bad food choices at, before, or after mealtimes.  That alone should be reason enough to at least consider some form of weekly meal prepping.

Shaun Karp is a certified personal trainer.  For further information call 604-420-7800 or go to www.karpfitness.com.

GuidedBy is a community builder and part of the Glacier Media news network. This article originally appeared on a Glacier Media publication.