Meal plans are what people think nutritionists' do for a living and I have a bit of a problem with them.
When people ask me for a meal plan, my first question is always "Why?"
I know it seems obvious that would be peoples' first assumption of what would work for them but honestly it does not always help people to change their diet.
Food is complicated for people, it's emotional, it's intimate.
It's usually harder for most people than just deciding "I'm going to change my diet" and doing it the following day. It's more complicated than that and there are layers needed to be stripped away, cleaned, peeled.
What I've witnessed over the years is that slow, sustainable changes and implementation of new foods, new habits beats massive, overnight immediate change when it comes to our developing new food habits that serve our body. With only a few drastic exceptions (doctor's diagnosis) making changes over time works best, and gives our body the best chance it can to heal what we are needing to heal.
Food planning is good but the key is making sure it is doable so you can sustain it and not bail due to overwhelm.
Meal plans are great for giving you a general idea of *when* you should be eating, but even though most of us already know that - breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner - it also might not work for you! We are so unique and each person has different things to work on, focus on or need.
The reason I don't like meal plans:
1) Totally Overwhelming
I think that most people are overwhelmed by getting handed 10-20 new recipes that they need to learn in the week. When we feel stressed by something we tend to avoid it or go around it - instead of doing it. Thus it can lead to failure! And what happens when we fail at something? We throw out our meal plan and go for Dairy Queen instead because we are angry at ourselves for not being good enough. We don't have to go down that dark hole at all. But it does happen, so we can prevent it by making sure a very simple meal plan will be needed if at all.
2) Think Replacement Instead
What works better for sustainable change is replacing certain foods instead of overhauling our entire diet over night. Replace your margarine with butter or organic olive oil, replace your white bread with sprouted whole grain, replace your sugar with honey.... as we continue to develop and add these new foods our palette and body changes. We'll continue to make better choices as we adapt to it. Slow and steady wins the race!
3) Whole Foods Education tops a Structured Daily Plan
Some people really do have a severely structured life with every minute planned from the time they wake up until they retire. If this is you, perhaps a meal plan really would work: to show you what your daily eating regime could look like. However, in my experience, a deeper understanding of a whole foods diet and what it looks like opens all the doors instead of closing them, making it an easier transition to creating meals based on what you have in your fridge, what's in season, or what your body wants that day. That's where true freedom lies.
I believe that a strong awareness of our body and its needs are at the core of our issues, and if we could just learn that, we'd be able to make sustainable changes.
What works better?
Zero in on the issues... take steps to move through them.
Choose who you need to help you with what, get very clear. Simplify.
Start a meditation practice, do yoga, learn how to do body scan's and really get in touch with what you need. When you start listening to yourself, instead of what other people 'tell you to do' - that's where you'll find success.
Need further help getting super clear on your nutrition to simplify it?