My old brain used to say things like, ‘I wish someone would tell me what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and why to eat it, then I’ll get to where I want to be.’ Just short of someone spoon feeding me, I tried that. For years. Every other day I would google ‘which meal plan should I use?’ Whether it was a meal plan made for me off Google, or what a fitness blogger was eating, or a personalized meal plan from a nutritionist, you name the meal plan, chances are I’ve dabbled in it. … and it took me over 16 years to figure out my answer – none.
meal plans don’t take into account the most important thing… you.
While I know this is how some people have success, and kudos to them, but I believe you need to be looking inward to find success. Are you trying to heal your relationship with food? Are you trying to stop emotional eating, stress eating, and want to finally be normal around food? Then another meal plan is not the answer.
You are not listening to your body if someone or something else is telling you what to put in it.
What does a meal plan NOT do for you?
Recognize your lifestyle:
What are your work hours? Are you a morning person and someone who likes to be in bed by 8PM (hi, it me), or are you a night owl? Do you have other family members that you need to cook for or take care of? What time do you enjoy getting some movement in? A meal plan doesn’t consider what times of the day you are thriving, and when you like to just chill. If you are someone who likes to stay up late, but your meal plan says you are done eating by 6:30PM, that my friend, is a recipe for disaster.
Understand your body changes:
Every woman’s menstrual cycle is different. I tend to be EXTREMELY hungry during ovulation and the week before my period and hold onto water weight; and it tends to flush out during the time of my period. I happily give my body whatever it needs during that time – and it usually calls for penne vodka pizza. Hey, I don’t judge.
If I was following a meal plan (and sadly this I know very well from experience), and it was the time around my menstrual cycle, PMSing and trying to follow a ‘1 cup of whole grain pasta, 1/4c of sauce and steamed spinach’ for dinner would send me down a black hole of frustration, anxiety, and of course, more penne vodka pizza. Even after dinner. Probably followed by a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia because ‘hey, I screwed up anyway.’
Understand your emotional needs:
Food is way more than just fuel. Food is a connection; a love language spoken all around the world that is used for holidays, parties, weddings, celebrations and everything in between. Gosh, even when my grandma died my house was filled with trays and trays of food in less than 40 minutes from people who loved and cared for my family. Meal plans don’t recognize when you are going through a hard time. When you haven’t slept the night before because of your kids. Life happens, and you need to be able to adjust accordingly. Meal plans do not do that for you.
Also, emotionally, you are going to sometimes turn to food. We will create and implement other tools in our toolbox to have on hand when we start feeling stressed/anxious/sad (insert emotion that sends you into a craving tailspin), but food will find a way at times. And that is okay. What isn’t okay, is the guilt associated not only with the emotions you are feeling, but the food that came with it, and the old adage of ‘I screwed up already, may as well hit up McDonalds.’
The day you don’t use a meal plan is the day you take a step closer to being more in tune with yourself.
If any of the above resonated with you, I am so glad. Why? Because I know if you’re here, you are questioning how you see food, which is the first step in healing. I was also that way, and here is how you can read more of my story.