What would your life be like if you were not dieting or constantly thinking or stressing about food? What would it be like if your diet and eating felt effortless? The truth its, it can! It does not have to be all consuming and energy draining. You just have to get through the initial phase of feeling like you have to follow rules dictated by someone else for you to be successful.
The first time I experimented with meal plans was during my college days. It was 2 months out from spring break and I started following the Slim Fast plan. A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, sensible dinner, and maybe and apple or some celery and carrots during the day. It was not too dreadful, other than the fact that I was starving all the time. I really liked the chocolate shakes and it satisfied my sweet tooth.
I adhered to this for a few weeks like a pro. I was even getting super intense workouts in with my strength coach. (On a side note being a college athlete and trying to do this was one of the least smart choices I ever did make in relation to eating). I was losing weight, feeling great, getting compliments, low on energy, stressing about food, and counting down the seconds until my next meal. Then one day I went out to lunch with some friends and had a mini breakdown inside my head. What am I going to eat now turned into what am I going to eat for the rest of my life. I can’t keep buying these shakes forever! And this is exactly what meal plans do to us.
They keep us dependent and ignorant about our own bodies.
One of the worst things about meal plans is trying to keep it up and trying to be social at the same time. Even if you can, and want to be on a meal plan most days of the week, what happens when you go out to dinner? To a friends birthday party? Your aunts house for dinner? Ice cream with your kids?
What do you do when the meal plan does not tell you what to eat? One of the most common themes I come across is that people get scared when they are left on their own, without anyone to tell them exactly what to eat, or what rules to follow. They fear they will mess and ruin their diet all together. You know what? Messing up on our diets is not the end of the world. It is actually feedback for ourselves now and in the future. Messing up is good because it lets us know what does not work.
It takes away our responsibility completely and does not help us learn about ourselves.
The fear is, when we are not following a diet, created by someone else, we have to take full responsibility if and when we are more indulgent than we would like to be. And it will happen, its called life. When we have a meal plan or a specific diet, we can blame the program or the person who created the plan for us. When we learn to create our own rules when it comes to eating, we have to take full responsibility. And that can be tough sometimes.
The beauty is, we are also in full control to learn more about ourselves and help create our own unique way of eating. Because it is unique. Each and everyday is unique based on the foods we have available, where we are located and what we are doing. Following a meal plan is a great way to pretend we are always in control with our eating. But it is also a highly stressful tool when our food availability does not go as planned. If we can see our self considered failures as opportunities to learn, we can better create a way of eating that works for us.
Meal plans mess with our minds.
Whether it is paleo, gluten free, slim fast, zone, weight watchers, south beach, it does not matter. All these diets have rules, on or off foods, things we should or should not do. And when we do not comply, we feel like failures. We feel like we lost control and will continue to lose control and spiral downward into the land of failed eating yet again. The thing is eating one bad meal ( or one bad day of eating) will not break your diet just like one good meal (or good day of eating) will not make your diet. Consistency is the secret.
If you are convinced that meal plans are for you, at least show yourself compassion if you fall off track. Self compassion is a great motivator than self criticism.
Diets and meal plans focus on too many rules.
You may have questions such as:
When should I eat breakfast?
Should I have carbs or just protein and fat? Or all three?
Should I workout fasted?
What should I eat before and after I workout in the morning?
Do I have to eat before if I am not hungry?
Can I have potatoes? Can they be white? sweet? purple?
Look at how much stress is surrounding your thoughts about food and it is not even past breakfast. Too many rules, create too many decisions, which will eventually lead to failure. These questions above are fine to have. But the only way to you can truly know what works is if you try it yourself and see what works.
I have a better way. I created Drop A Size in 5, an at home workout and eating guidebook that helps you create your, own, unique, rules when it comes to eating. YOUR Meal Design. What would it be like if at the end of 5 weeks you would know exactly how to eat for the rest of your life and it would be created by you? It will be launching at the end of April so be sure to sign up to get on the wait list for more info about YOUR Meal Design.
And let me tell you that once you create your own rules, you can end up anywhere, from Starbucks, to McDonalds, to Whole Foods and still make healthy, appropriate choices, in line with your goals.