Why a Nutritionist is unlikely to give you a meal plan!
I must admit when I starting up Paula Duggan Balance Nutrition 3 years ago, it never occurred to me that people would ask me for meal plans. Why? Well, people don’t eat like that in real life. I have never followed a meal plan and I don’t know any Nutritionists who personally follow meal plans. Furthermore, I don’t know any Nutritionists who “do” meal plans for clients. So, where did the whole meal plan thing come from? I do recall seeing them in women’s magazines, but that was just a crash diet right. So, why would you come to a Nutritionist for something you can get in a magazine, probably because you are made think this is what I need.
Also, I have come across gyms giving out meal plans, why, because they are not Nutritionists. Therefore, they don’t have enough knowledge of Nutrition to teach someone how to eat healthily without a prescribed meal plan. Furthermore, they don’t have enough recipes to share. When I first started up, I gave a few clients a meal plan because they were the customer, then I started doing what I believed was right.
Before I go any further, I just want to clarify, I am talking about specific diet plans here. I am not referring to food prep, batch cooking, being organized, stocking your freezer, writing out a few dinner ideas before you do the weekly shop – that is all just smart and efficient. I am a big fan of all that stuff and focus on it a lot with my clients!!!
Why meal plans don't work!
Rigid & Restrictive
They are rigid & restrictive. In other words, boring and repetitive. One might think, but aren’t diets restrictive? Yes, diets are restrictive, that is why I don’t like the word diet, it usually involves lots of unnecessary rules and exclusions and doesn’t allow for common sense. Isn’t healthy eating boring anyway? No, not if you allow for inclusion of all food groups, lots of variety and provide clients with lots of choices, ideas and recipes. If someone told me I had to follow a meal plan, I would not be a happy camper. What if I don’t like some of those foods, what if I feel like something else, what if I get get of eating chicken & salmon. I absolutely believe, the key to healthy eating and moreover sustaining healthy eating is enjoying a varied and interesting diet. Food needs to be tasty otherwise, people fail.
Meal plans are short-term fixes. They don’t teach you about portion size or calorie awareness, two things which are paramount to being able to eat everything in moderation. Nutrition is all about context, diet plans and meal plans don’t teach you anything about context. For example, it may be appropriate to add a slice of bread in one scenario but not in another. This is the kind of practical advice and guidance I believe people need and want.
Impractical & Unrealistic
Meals plans for weight loss or any kind of meal plan is simply impractical and unrealistic unless perhaps you are an athlete with a specific goal. They are going to feel like a form of torture after a few weeks. What do you do when you are not at home to make your yummy boiled chicken & broccoli. We are a little more complex as humans. You have needs that may change day by day, week by week and sometimes even hour by hour. Furthermore, meal plans don’t allow for intuitive eating. We are meant to enjoy our food you know, eat a little less when not hungry, eat a little more when hungry! Also, you are allowed to enjoy your food. There should be enough flexibility in your diet that you can throw together a healthy, balanced, quick supper instead of dinner when you don’t have time to cook e.g. omelette.
What does work?
Learning & developing the skills to improve your diet & health, your relationship with food and your efficiency in the kitchen. Lots of people struggle with organization, but I am a firm believer that you take the stress out of the kitchen mid-week by being smart. Batch-cooking quite literally changes people’s lives, a tad dramatic you might say! However, if you use to cook 7 nights a week (stressed and tired) and now you cook 4 nights a week, that’s a game changer by anyone’s standards!
As a result, this will improve your motivation levels, energy levels and free up some time for a walk in the evenings! You won’t feel deprived as you are choosing what you eat, you won’t get bored because you are allowed to mix it up. So, my advice, keep mixing it up! Want to learn more about how I believe people can improve their health and lose some weight click here.