I’ll be honest, there was a time in my career where I was strongly against meal plans. I had let other peoples opinions decide for me rather than asking myself “what is best for me?” Like anything else, I believe that meal plans can have their place and time when done properly.
The Back Story
When I was working as a personal trainer I would frequently get asked for meal plans by my clients. At the time I wasn’t a registered nutritionist and wasn’t willing to operate outside of my scope of practice. When I started developing my business I had to ask myself “what do I believe in terms of nutrition?” It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to have an open mind, I can’t possibly already know everything so why would I put myself, or my clients, in a box? We often form our opinions based on our own experiences and interactions. It’s easy for me to say that because something didn’t work for me it won’t work for you, but that isn’t true! Always do your own research and form your own opinions! I provide clients that are part of my beet program with a flexible meal plan. This means that I provide them with a variety of combinations and balanced meals that they can mix and match. I keep it very simple, and use the plan to teach them how to build a healthy meal on their own. It isn’t a plan they should just follow blindly, it is a plan they should learn from and be able to move on from. It is a stepping stone on their health journey. The plan is only set up for a two week duration, at the end of the two weeks the client is ready to try and build their own meals. If you are considering a meal plan, there are some important questions you should ask yourself:
Will this make my life better?
This should improve your health, if it is causing mental stress it probably isn’t the right approach for you. Obsessing over a meal plan is going to cause more harm than good. On the other hand, if its going to make your life easier by eliminating some of the decisions that need to be made about food, then it can be a very positive experience.
Will this teach me something useful?
Often our initial reaction is to jump in and follow the plan to a T. This is not a realistic approach, life is unpredictable. If you can view the meal plan as a learning tool, and not as a constraint, you will have a better experience. If the meal plan isn’t set up in such a way that you know the why of it, then you should look for a different plan. I set all my meal plans up with labels for carbohydrates, fat, protein and vegetables. This way my clients learn the proper portion sizes and how to recognize a well balanced plate themselves.
Be A Forever Student
Speaking in absolutes is necessary at times but when it comes to the health and fitness industry there is still so much more to learn. What we think is the best way to workout today, may not be the best way tomorrow. The same can be said of diet, we need to be willing to keep an open mind and realize that it’s not that we were doing it wrong before, its that we can do it better now. Every day we should be able to do it better if we are open to learning. Be a forever student!
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Eat your veggies!