Before I get the internet wrath on this topic, let me first preface by saying we’re all in different stages of our lives and for some of us meal plans absolutely serve their purpose.
I do find them highly beneficial for women coming out of eating disorder treatment centers and for those that desperately need the structure to just….well, eat.
However, for the majority of us, to be quite candid, I think we abuse them and try using them as the end all be all to health and nutrition.
When I typed in female meal plan in google, this is what popped up:
Wow! How exciting does that look? Not very enticing does it? To begin, this plan is way off balance and not anywhere close to how meal plans should look. I mean, where are the veggies and fat? Anyhow, with that being said, I want to do a deep-dive and discuss why I feel meal plans fall short.
1. When we rely on meal plans, we’re automatically dismissing our own food intuition. Sure, I get we need help, again I’m not neglecting the benefits of meal plans whatsoever and I think nutritionists are AH-mazing at what they do. However, I’m talking about after we’ve done the whole meal plan thing over and over again. When we stop relying on our own intuition with food, how can we ever begin to navigate our way to a healthy eating approach? WE CAN’T. Think about it, are we going to walk around with this sheet of paper in our hands with meal times approaching and only choosing what someone else has told us to eat? Ewwww. To me, this convinces our brain and mindset we’re completely incapable of trusting our own judgment and body’s signals to cravings and food selections. Think about a number of times we get incredibly frustrated because the food plan doesn’t sound enjoyable for the day or we just don’t want to eat another protein bar. Why should we?
2. We lose sight of our body’s organic signals. IF we listen, our body will tell us exactly what it needs, not another person who wrote the plan for us. Have you ever craved Mexican food so badly but chose not to eat it merely because your plan said steamed fish and broccoli? What typically happens? I don’t know about you, but I would want that Mexican food even more if I knew I couldn’t have it. Would you opt for the fish and broccoli, even when you’ve been eating healthy for a while now? All because you’re afraid to gain weight or allow yourself to enjoy foods off the meal plan now and again? I recently spoke to a client of mine who was really upset because she couldn’t figure out why she was still so hungry all the time and gravitating to the fridge after supper. After talking with her, we quickly realized she wasn’t even eating enough to begin with, it was no wonder her body was still talking to her. She needed more food! Same thing with the whole Mexican/fish scenario, maybe we end up ordering the fish and I can guarantee you’ll want to come home and binge on other stuff. You might even have pent up anger because you didn’t allow yourself to have what you really wanted. Over time, we lose more and more confidence in our own decision making because for so long we’ve allowed everyone else to make them for us.
3. We constantly need external validation which will fall short every time. I remember when I would constantly ask everyone else’s opinion rather than trusting my own. I would jump from meal plan to meal plan thinking the next one would finally fix me. Other than leaving me broke, all that cycle did was reinforce the same behavior, which was just continue to ask everyone else. Haven’t you ever asked someone’s opinion, they took the time to listen and provide insight and you did the exact opposite? Or, what about hopping from one person/thing/situation to the next, trying to find the answer you want to hear? Ha. I bet you have. :). We all have at some point or another. But it gets old, for others yes, but most importantly for us. We run ourselves down trying to find that magic answer to our food issues rather than taking a moment to step back and actually begin to trust ourselves. BUT-most of us don’t want to put in the work because let’s say a certain plan doesn’t work out. What do we do?
We blame everyone else or the person who created it rather than owning that we were the main source of the problem.
I often hear women saying how angry they are at the system, at these doctors, friends and family members for not listening or somehow not giving them the answer they wanted to hear. I get we get frustrated and I hear that, but the moment we stop shifting blame on others and take radical responsibility for our own actions, the more we can ultimately trust ourselves.
At the end of the day, we are where we are for a reason, we all have free will and we all have choices we make on a daily basis. Some good and some bad, however, by taking full responsibility for our bodies and choosing to listen to our own inner dialogue, the more we can take back our power and self-confidence which was what we wanted all along.
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