When I’m interviewing prospective clients, one of the most popular questions asked is “Do you offer meal plans?” I always answer no, and I’m usually met with “why?”
Meal planning is a skill and something we should all figure out for ourselves (unless you have condition that requires a medically prescribed meal plan.) If you don’t fit into that category, I do not recommend falling into the trap of hiring a meal planner.
What is a “Meal Plan”
So, a meal plan is often a rigid dietary schedule with predetermined snacks and meals usually with a weight-loss or nutrition goal in mind. This requires doing a full food shop, prepping all veggies and protein, and eating food you might not like This is usually prescribed to you by a meal planner or nutritionist.
Meal Planner vs. Nutritionist/Dietitian
Often times people who offer you a meal plan are not certified. They can be personal trainers who have achieved their chiseled abs through diet and exercise but have no idea of the needs for your unique body. Be weary of them! A certified nutritionist will have all of the qualifications to create a meal plan and provide you with education on nutrition. However, the goal is to eventually no longer have their guidance and meal plan for yourself. If you see that someone is a self proclaimed “Meal Planner!” run the other way. As a certified nutrition coach, I do not prescribe meal plans- instead I work with clients to figure out ways meal prepping can help their week.
Why Should I Meal Prep?
Meal prepping prepares you for the things you can’t control: ie. having protein sources ready to eat and quick healthy fruit and vegetables ready to go on Sunday because you know you won’t have time to cook a full dinner on Tuesday. When life gets in the way, it’s helpful to have quick options on hand.
Each of my clients comes up with their own way to become successful- there is no one size fits all approach to eating. Eating is social- we attend birthdays, evenings out, and family gatherings often weekly.
Quick Tips to Begin Meal Prepping
1. Track Everything You Eat for a Week
It’s so important not to change anything about how you eat. This is just a starting point, so be honest! This will show you where there’s room for improvement. Good questions to ask are: “Did I get enough vegetables every day?” “How much protein did I eat?” “Are most of the food I consume carbs?” A good indicator that you’re on the right track, is a colorful plate (literally!)- full of vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and carbs like whole wheat/grains.
2. Make Small Changes and Shop Accordingly
Come up with a game plan: Maybe add more vegetables or fruit to every meal. If this feels too daunting, focus on one meal a day! Maybe you know lunch is always a problem because your break just isn’t long enough and you never pre pack your food. So focus on cutting veggies you enjoy and packing a sandwich full of protein on wheat bread. Find ways to sprinkle in healthier habits, then go to the grocery store and get what you need!
3. Food Prep is Your Friend
To succeed in anything, you must be prepared right? By making these small changes in increments, you may find you meal prep more over time, you prep just a few things to be more successful or you at least make a plan to ensure you have good options in the house. Perhaps you’ll need to devote a night or morning to cutting up vegetables you like, cooking protein to have on hand, or making a few jars of overnight oats. Work smarter not harder! And if you need any meal prep inspo, check out the members area for HUNDREDS of easy to make recipes.
I hope these tips help and if you have any questions or want to keep me updated on your journey, please reach out on insta @justgetfit!