Meal Plans Are Useless

Dan DeFigioBehavior and Mindfulness, Nutrition Advice

meal plans

Losing weight can be hard enough, but the real struggle is keeping it off after you’ve lost it.

Most people who lose weight end up regaining it (and often, regaining even more than they lost). Why?

Losing weight requires changing how you eat. Losing weight PERMANENTLY requires changing how you USUALLY eat.

Keeping the weight off requires new eating habits that you can sustain. For years and years. “Detox Diets” don’t give you sustainable ways of eating. You’ll always stop that diet, then you’ll always go back to what you used to do, unless you learn how to do something differently.

meal plans useless

 

Meal Plans Are Not The Answer

When I work with clients, the #1 thing I hear up front is “I just need a plan to follow.”

Yes, you need a plan….but not like you’re thinking.

You DON’T need a plan that tells you exactly what to eat every single moment of every single day. What will you do once you “go off the plan?”

You don’t need a plan that restricts you with “NO THIS” and “NO THAT” and “For God’s sake NEVER AGAIN THOSE.” These are not sustainable plans. If you’re on a Forbidden Food Plan, once you have that cookie or that piece of bread, you’ve “failed”, and guess what — you’re “off the plan.” Now what?

Here’s a simple question you can ask yourself to decide if your current meal plan is setting you up for success or failure:

Can you see yourself eating this way five years from now?

If the answer is “absolutely”, then you’re doing the right thing.

If the answer is ‘No,’ here are some tips to get you on the right track:

The Meal Plan You Need

  1. Flexibility: A good meal plan is flexible, not restricive. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even consider it a ‘meal plan’. A useful plan will have options for you — ways for you to make smart nutrition work in your real life. You should still be able to eat foods that you love.
  2. Realistic and Sustainable: A useful meal plan is based on healthy nutrition principles that are going to help you reach your goals in a realistic way (see below). Any diet or meal plan that takes you through complicated “phases”, or completely forbids certain kinds of food, is doomed to fail.
  3. Overhaul: One of the biggest mistakes most motivated dieters make is diving into a complete diet and lifestyle overhaul. They try to change every single thing in their life all at once, and it becomes impossible to stick to.
  4. Easy: A good meal plan will give you food options that are readily available, and that won’t break the bank. You don’t have to go broke eating healthy. If your diet forces you to buy a bunch of ‘special’ food from a company, it won’t last.

Here are eight simple guidelines that will help you make healthier choices without feeling restricted:

  • Drink mostly water – avoid sweetened drinks
  • Protein every time you eat
  • Vegetable or fruit at every meal
  • Eat healthy fats like oils, nuts, and fish oil
  • Learn about your triggers to avoid stress eating and reactive food behaviors
  • Aim for good decisions 80% of the time. All-or-nothing thinking keeps you on the roller coaster.

Effective Meal Plans

meal plans

Meal plans are not completely useless if they’re used correctly. The meal plans and recipes I provide to my clients give them ideas for how to make healthy food interesting and delicious. They come with shopping lists. They steer you towards eating natural foods instead of processed food. They get you in the habit of combining protein and carbohydrates. They expose you to ways to make vegetables more interesting. They’re TEACHING TOOLS, not SHACKLES.

  • There’s no such thing as a perfect diet. The name of the game is to get in the habit of making smart food decisions most of the time. Forever.
  • You need steps to start changing your day-in and day-out habits.
  • You probably need some guidance and information to narrow down all the confusion health and nutrition “noise” on the internet.
  • You need ideas to help you start making smart nutrition work for you in your own personal schedule and life.
  • Food is not the enemy. Healthy eating is not a chore.

It’s my goal to give you the knowledge and skills you need to lose weight and keep it off — without struggling. Healthy nutrition without endless diet plans. Weight loss without the maddening lose-then-gain-it-back cycles. A life without stress eating binges that completely knock you off the rails for weeks (or months) on end.

I’m here if you want that — jump in!

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