Meal planning is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Having a good plan for what you are going to eat will help you skirt around possible pitfalls during the week. If you prep and pack your meals beforehand you are less likely to find yourself hungry, crunched for time and limited to fast food options. The idea of meal planning is awesome, the execution takes practice and the actual meal plan has become some what of a celebrity. Many of my initial intake advisement conversations start with my client desiring a “meal plan”. This is true for weight loss and performance enhancement clients alike. Lately I have found myself cringing at the thought of creating a meal plan for my clients and I have just realized where that negative feeling comes from. Dive with me into the idea of meal planning and we may just find something much more versatile and sustainable.
Why I would rather not meal plan
- It is limiting
- I am not a dietitian
- I don’t know the many intricacies of your diet preferences (times, foods to avoid, preparation styles, etc…)
- It’s limiting
- It does not teach sustainability (meaning that it doesn’t teach you how to eat going forward from the plan)
- It’s limiting
- It does not provide the opportunity for the client to make their own choices
- Any goal that is set by the professional instead of the client will be way less likely to be fulfilled
Any healthy lifestyle change is always going to be a behavior change. It is always going to be a habit waiting to be made. The truths about diet and exercise are very similar. When I am asked the question, what is the best exercise, the answer is always going to be, “the one you will do”. So if you ask me what the best healthy foods to eat are, I am inclined to answer with ” the ones that you will eat”. I like to take the time to help my clients build their own “meal plans”, just as I help them choose the exercises that work for them. Everyone is so different in their priorities, schedules and time frames. Add tastes and culture into that and I am likely to give you an meal plan that you hate and will only use for a week. Meal plans designed by a professional are not sustainable for real life eating and maybe should be scrapped all together.
Is there a better option?
Skip the diet, Just eat healthy!
Learn about foods, calories, nutrients and then be flexible whit it.
When it comes to any recommendations made, collaboration is always the best option. A partnership where the client makes the decisions and the professional offers insight will always win over programs designed for the masses and even programs designed for individuals. When I think about meal planning, I think about why a meal plan exists and then I realize that those reasons will never be met if I just give them a paper to follow. People want to learn how to eat healthy and meal planning for them will only stunt that growth. Learning how to meal plan for yourself is the most valuable take home message a person can get for a lifetime of healthy choices. So I have decided to stop meal planning for you, instead I want to teach you how to meal plan for yourself. Give a man a meal plan, feed him for a week. Teach a man to meal plan, feed him for a lifetime.
Here is what I want you to learn that a meal plan cannot teach you:
- What a calorie is
- What food items contain what types of calories (proteins, fats and carbs)
- What each type of calorie does for your body
- What your specific calorie need is (resting metabolic rate)
- When to eat each type of calorie and how much of each you need (Macro counting)
- How to find this information on a food label
- How to use this information to make decisions about health and diet
- How to plan a meal for nutrition and not just for taste
- How to plan multiple meals for a sustainable amount of time
This kind of information is really specific for each person and cannot be captured on a blog post. If learning to eat for nutrition in a sustainable way is something that you would like to learn, please contact me so we can set up a time to talk. Click the “Contact US” tab and drop me a line so we can get you on your way to stop starting over.