“I want a plan. I’m sick of trying to figure all this stuff out! Just tell me what to eat!”
Here are the main issues with meal plans:
When you have a meal plan, does it mean you will stick with it? It is normal to want to eat something that is not prescribed and it could even be superior choice! Or maybe you don’t have some of the groceries. Or maybe, you have everything ready but preparing the new meal is way out of your comfort zone. These factors might create unnecessary stress. And what if your friends invite you for a dinner or you are forced to eat outside – will you be able to make good choices?
Even if you follow the meal plan to the T, you don’t learn that much along the way. I follow the idea “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Meal plans focus on macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) and/or total calories. They might not take into consideration nutritionally important factors as micronutrition but most importantly, meal plans don’t account for human variables such as changes in preferences, lifestyle stress and other fluctuations we experience daily. Sure, the technology nowadays is very advanced and you can get very personalized meal plan without spending much money. In the end, meal plan is just one tool that is useful for a very specific goal and to be used for a short period of time.
A factor that I have never seen accounted for is “how you eat”. Do you eat your meals slow or fast? Do you chew your food thoroughly or do you gorge yourself mindlessly? The eating habits and skills might be even more important then the actual food you eat.
- Meal plans are short-term ‘solutions’. Once you are done with your one-month meal plan, then what? You will either buy a new one, follow the same meal that you just finished or, which is the most probable, you fall back to your old habits and you are where you started. You lose the results you have so heavily invested in and possibly feel like failure afterwards.
Food log experiment:
- I am consistent with what I eat – I rotate several meals and use the same mindset when preparing them.
- I have consistent eating habits – I eat three times a day, without snacking. That leads to similar portion sizes and even if I am hungrier and eat more for lunch, I naturally eat less for dinner. Like a human being.
- My daily activity is pretty much similar – My training is consistent, my daily activity is consistent as well. And even if I move more on some days than the other, it simply reflects on my appetite. Some days I move more and I am hungrier. Some days I move more and I am less hungry but it catches up with me a day later.
When you have consistent eating patterns (habits) and activity patterns, it is very simple to modify your intake without knowing or counting your calories.
If I wanted to eat more, I would keep my meals and meal schedule the same but squeeze in a snack for example.
If I wanted to reduce the amount I eat, I would eat a smaller dinner or substitute grains/legumes for leafy greens. It is simple as that.
Learn how to best fuel your body
If you want to learn how to best fuel your body, stop tracking your food and meet with Daniel who specializes in sports nutrition and can help you create a sustainable diet/food plan that fits your unique needs and lifestyle.
After clicking the link below you will be redirected to an intake form where you leave your details. I will get back with you within 24 hours.
Looking forward to hear from you,