One of the most common questions we receive when helping clients with their nutritional or fitness pursuits is whether or not we provide a meal plan. The simple and direct answer is: No, we do not provide meal plans.
While meal plans have long been a staple of the fitness and nutrition industry, reality is that they often just don’t work. The problem with meal plans is that more often than not they resemble that of a prescription. On this day, at this time, eat this, and only in this amount. On the next day, at this time, eat this, again only in this amount. Below are 3 reasons why meal plans typically don’t work for the long-term and one simple strategy that will likely produce better results over the long haul.
Reason 1: You Just Don’t Stick To The Plan.
Let’s face it, you live a busy life. Your work project deadline is looming. The kids get sick. We haven’t gone to the grocery store. It’s the holidays. You’re on vacation. Who has time to go get a pinch of cumin, a tablespoon of that other spice you’ve never heard of… let alone can barely pronounce.
These are all normal. The downfall of these normal occurrences is that they can affect the outcome of your rigid prescriptive meal plan. When life happens, we have to adjust. Unfortunately, that typically means discarding the plan and all of its important intricacies. Now, the meal plan that you hoped would help you lose a few pounds could actually result in weight gain instead.
Reason 2: You Follow The Plan Perfectly!
Wait, I followed my plan and it produced some results… What’s wrong with that!? There is absolutely nothing wrong with achieving benefits. However, when clients seem to follow these extensive plans perfectly, they often follow them too well… for too long. Most meal plans are meant to be temporary to produce desired results in a desired amount of time. They’re often created to help a person get to a specific short-term goal, whether it’s dropping a few pounds before a wedding, high school reunion, athletic event, etc.
Following these rigid plans for a short period of time is not explicitly harmful per say. Especially if they help you achieve your desired goal. The problems occur when we follow these intransigent plans for the long-term and begin to develop disordered eating habits and other long lasting health consequences such as mental, metabolic, and hormonal conditions.
Reason 3: You Follow The Plan For a Little While… But It Just Sucks
What’s for breakfast? Eggs and broccoli. What about lunch? Chicken and broccoli. And Dinner? You guessed it! Chicken and broccoli… But wait, there’s more! For dinner, you’re able to throw in 100 grams of a sweet potato with that lovely chicken and broccoli!
Again, when we follow these prescriptive meal plans, they’re often designed for the short-term. The plan isn’t sustainable. You might start to see some benefits but you’re starting to go nuts. No, not almonds, better stay away from those because they’re not in the plan. You start getting turned off by the whole process of weighing out your 4 ounces of chicken, that you finally just quit the plan.
So What Do I Do!?
Strategy 1: Meal Transformation
When it comes to food choices, we encourage you to think of food quality as a spectrum. Rather than “good” or “bad” foods.
Right now, think about the most recent meal you had. What is one thing you could have done to make that meal a little bit better. When it comes to transforming meals, it’s not only about what you eat, but also how you eat. Are you eating a cheeseburger and a large fry while trying to finish your work project on your drive back to work? Or are you eating a salad, chewing slowly, in a quiet room, enjoying time with your significant other?
Let’s show you how we can transform breakfast for example:
As you can see, not only can quality of foods play a role in reaching nutritional freedom, but also the environment. Remember, it’s not all about what you eat, but also how you eat. Take a look at your most recent meal and think about one way you could have made it just a little bit better. Begin by transforming one meal. Once you feel you have transformed one meal, move onto another.
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