Can you reject dieting and still do meal planning?
This is a common question from my coaching clients and naturopathic patients alike. And it’s a great one!
Understandably, meal planning has some negative associations with dieting. It can be seen as restrictive and completely un-fun. (Is that a word? It should be.)
Here is my non-exhaustive list as to why meal planning can be a trigger for many Diet Rebels:
• It can lack spontaneity (What if I’m invited out for a meal?)
• A plan can feel like a diet (what to eat and when)
• Right up there with tracking food, a plan can trigger dieting thoughts (Enough veg? Too much fat? What plan should I follow?)
With that said, there are many pluses to using meal planning though. Here are a few highlights:
• Knowing what’s for supper can clear up a lot of daytime head space. (Seriously, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’ll have for dinner.)
• It can avoid ‘hangry’ moments (presuming you prepared some of the food ahead of time so you can grab and go.)
• Meal planning can save a lot of money (with no wasted garbage food, less take out.)
As long as you deal with the potential challenges, I believe menu planning is a great asset. I use meal planning weekly. So, here are 5 key tips to have meal planning work for you:
#1 The Satisfaction Factor
This is number one for a reason. It is really important to only put food on your plan that you look forward to eating. If you see it and go “ugh”, then it needs to be replaced.
#2 Keep It Fluid
It’s a guideline, not a strict set of rules. If you get invited out, go out. If you change your mind about a meal, swap days or just omit it and make something else. But this happens less frequently when you honour #1, The Satisfaction Factor. It will only be a diet if you look at it with rigidity.
#3 Who’s The New Kid On The Block?
Each week, try something new. The only way to discover what you like and what you don’t is to try new things. Cook something a new way. Try out a new vegetable, grain or meat. Ask a friend for their favorite recipe.
#4 No Rules Allowed
When planning your menu, there cannot be any old dieting rules included. If you like breakfast for dinner, then that’s what you should include. If you like burgers for breakfast – have at ‘er! Carbs and protein together? You betcha. Fruit with everything else? Oh yeah! Dessert after each meal? Of course darlin’, is there any other way?
#5 The Addition of Nutrition
Why is nutrition at the bottom of the list? Because as important as it is, you likely have so many rules that you no longer know what nutrition is. It’s so confusing with all of the conflicting advice. One thing remains clear – the average person does not consume enough vegetables. So once your plan is laid out, look for ways to add veggies WHILE maintaining enjoy-ability and excitement. Side dishes need not be boring. Go online a search out some recipes.
So, where do you start? I suggest that you make a list of all of the different meals that you enjoy. Ask your family what your favourites were growing up (maybe you really liked meatloaf or pierogies or stir fry.) What did you have for lunch before there were rules about how much bread you were allowed?
Once you have some different breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snacks to choose from, make a menu. Shop for what you need. Prepare what you can. And go with the flow.
Until next time,
Live Life. Love Food. Be Free.