The Truth About Meal Plans

Evelyn

Okay If I'm being serious…

Trying to be a mom who is present, a wife who is attentive, and an individual who can keep it all together, while juggling house work and full-time work is freaking nuts.

Did I mention after school activities and family functions?

We want to be happy, healthy, successful, and we want to do it all on our own.

Choosing what food we are serving is often the last thing on our minds. It can take lots of time. And often, what’s fastest, isn’t healthiest.

We snack on our kids Gold Fish crackers, take handfuls of animal crackers, or grab a few French fries. Is that the worst thing? Absolutely not. But it can definitely affect your body over time. So, what’s the answer? For me? Meal plans.

Meal plans can help you not only plan out your week, but also help you to lose weight! There’s no thinking involved, no trying to figure out dinner at the last minute. Meal plans take the guess work out of cooking and simplify your time. So, what’s the controversy? Let’s see?

Why meal plans suck…

So, for many people, a prescriptive meal plan becomes a crutch. They have to follow the plan exactly or they feel bad. They have to eat specifically what is recommended to them or they “fall off track”.

Many nutrition coaches write prescriptive meal plans detailing every bite or ounce of food. They expect clients to work through feelings of deprivation and denial. And they expect them to follow their plans religiously. For these people, a meal plan becomes a “rule” that can’t be broken.

Following these types of meal plans can help people lose weight and feel good about their progress. But the problem is, they attribute their success to the meal plan.

They don’t learn to listen to their own specific bodies and hunger cues, they are actually forced to ignore them. There is no internal work being done, because the focus is on the external plan.

When you follow a meal plan as a golden rule, then your success will end when the plan ends. Once you stop following the plan, you will gain weight back and revert to old habits. But it doesn’t have to be like that!

Why I love meal plans….

I’m busy as hell. I take personal training clients daily, offer nutrition coaching, teach group training classes, take care of my home and my two daughters (although the hubs does his fair share of home duties😊), not to mention, being an awesome freaking wife! I feel like I literally don’t have the mental energy it takes to think about and prepare healthy meals daily for a family of four.

Enter meal plans.

I write a plan weekly for my family. So, we know what we’ll be eating just about every day of the week. Although sometimes, we order in or go out for dinner. And that works too! I talk to my husband and my daughters and we come up with some ideas for the week. It even helps to keep us from being bored by the same meals all the time.

Here’s how we implement our family meal plan:

  • We talk about what meals we want to eat.
  • We try to align our schedules to see which meals should go on which days. Busy days require faster meals.
  • We grocery shop and cook on Sunday. By that I mean cooking the meats (to about ¾ the way done, so they don’t over cook when we heat them), perhaps a large pot of rice, some sweet or red potato, etc.
  • We make sure to have frozen veggies on hand. Frozen veggies are a life saver when you’re pressed for time. A quick 5 minute “steam bag” of veggies and dinner is almost ready!
  • We often get at least one rotisserie chicken. It’s definitely a time saver!

The point is, these meal plans work for me and my family, because they are used as a tool, not a way of life.

They definitely help keep me on track with my body weight because knowing what I have planned to eat, keeps me from snacking on things I really don’t want or need. It also gives me a feeling of being prepared, organized.

Ultimately, meal plans wouldn’t work in the long run if I weren’t doing the work on myself as well.

I have to listen to my hunger cues. I have to focus on how I feel after eating (full, satisfied, still hungry, etc.). I have to know what foods work for me specifically. If I know that I feel too full when I eat rice, then I make sure my plate has more protein and veggies than rice.

If I know that I am left with lots of cravings after I have too many sweets, then I keep my dessert portion to something small.

If I know that I feel tired around 3:00 every day, then I keep a stash of snacks on hand that will help bring my energy levels back up: apples with sunflower butter (I’m allergic to nuts), veggies with hummus, veggies with avocado, or even berries with dark chocolate.

When I work with nutrition clients, we focus on learning how to get back to basics: listening to our bodies, focusing on health, learning our individual needs, and then eventually, meal planning.

Our meal plans are specific to fat loss, but also to each individual, their lives, their likes, and their needs. And most importantly, our meal plans are completed together, with the very clear understanding that the plan is secondary to their intuition. And understanding that is what truly brings them success…

Keep it burning,

Evelyn

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