What is it about meal plans that suck people in and make them think they will solve all their diet problems?
I’ve been asked by clients in the past if I can ‘just give me a meal plan!’
I could. But I don’t.
Why you might ask? Let me explain….
Why meal plans don’t work:
They encourage good/bad food mentality, on/off diet thinking and perfectionism
Meal plans tell you what to eat. They take away the effort required to think about planning, they take away the decision, they take away the fear of not doing it ‘right’. But, what if there is NO right way, only nourishing choices and less nourishing choices.
People like to follow something that has ‘worked’ for someone else, with the hope that maybe THIS plan will work for them too. But what works for one individual, may not work for you. Shock horror! We’re all biodiverse!
When you decide to follow a meal plan, the foods included on the plan become the ‘safe’ or ‘good’ foods, and often your favourite foods, are then ones you are not to eat. This then reinforces in your mind that these foods are bad. When you finally ‘cave in’ and eat these so-called ‘bad’ foods, you feel you’ve failed and need to start again. This further perpetuates that on/off diet mentality. You tell yourself you’ll get back on the diet Monday.
The nature of a meal plan is that you follow it. If you don’t…you tell yourself you’ve messed up. It encourages us to be perfect, not to deviate, not to listen to our bodies natural hunger cues or cravings (which are OK!).
Meal plans are a temporary fix
Diet plans usually have an endpoint. Do this cleanse for 4 weeks, do this detox for 7 days, follow this 8-week kick start … then what?
Are we then expected to be able to naturally start to know how to incorporate more foods without ‘binging’? After restricting ourselves for so long and following the plan perfectly, how do we transition off of it into real life? They don’t tell you that!
A meal plan is like a bandaid on the bigger problem. You need to learn how to incorporate a sustainable healthy eating regime into your life.
Meal plans don’t TEACH you how to eat
They start on day one, you dive straight in, you make significant changes to your current diet and are often left counting down the days until the end of your ‘detox’. They are an all or nothing kind of pursuit. They don’t ‘ease’ you into the new dietary changes.
You may get results fast, but it’s not the way to make lasting behaviour change. It’s not the way to introduce a way of eating you’ll still be enjoying a year from now, or *gasp* happy eating for the rest of your life!
Meal plans are prescriptive by nature. Sure, some may allow a bit of flexibility based on individual preferences, but most meal plans tend to makes you dependant on the plan for success, not confident and empowered in your own ability to nourish your body. What if you don’t feel like a salad for dinner and would rather have pasta? What if you don’t have time to make a layered lasagne, and only have time to sautee a stirfry?
Don’t get me wrong, there definitely certain situations where meal plans are essential. An example may be a case of severe gut disbiosis, where a diet high in particular macronutrients could be determental. In this instance, a tailored meal plan which avoids certain food groups is optimal for healing. That’s not what I’m talking about.
The point is, you need to create a way of eating that works for YOU. Noone else can accurately prescribe a plan like this, because they’re not you! Your healthy eating style needs to be flexible to your life situation, it needs to be a way of life, not something you hop on and off of.
Don’t go it alone
The process of creating new habits doesn’t happen overnight. It often doesn’t happen in 3 weeks either. We can’t fast forward the process. Lasting change takes time, it takes trial and error and it’s an awful lot easier with someone to work alongside you.
Get in touch now and let me help you make lifestyle change that will last.