Meal planning is one of those things that can seem overwhelming or just too much work. Even though I applaud when people spend their Sunday’s with perfectly weighed and portioned meals ready for the week, it isn’t a practical solution for most people.
Instead of meal planning = slaving over food scales, measuring cups, nutrition facts labels, and calories.
Make it just PLANNING.
Planning where and when you will pick up healthy meals throughout the week for late nights at work, or busy workdays where you can’t leave your desk for lunch.
🍽Here is a case study to illustrate:
An athlete meets with me and explains, that “I feel more squishy than I did 6 months ago and I wonder if my metabolism slowed down. I feel like my stamina has gone down and my run times feel like more an effort. I’m also wanting to eat more consistently and organized.”
There is a lot to uncover in this simple description!!! 🧐
Upon further discussion and questioning here are some details I discovered that were very important to determine how I could assist this athlete in gaining control over his food intake .
>This athlete is 31. He was focused on how he was currently feeling and was measuring his physical fitness and body composition to the person he was 3 – 4 months ago. He has five kids, is in the middle of extensive home repair, and his spouse is going to school some evenings when he gets home. The evening is chaotic feeding the kids, and he often doesn’t eat dinner. Then during the workday he may skip eating altogether. His commute is 60 – 75 min each way. If he doesn’t eat during the day he is expectedly starving on his way home and picks up something easy to eat which isn’t very healthy.<
Where to get started:
1. Dive deeper into his exercise routine – I asked about his training a year ago up until now and explained physiological changes to his body, fitnesses and body composition during that time – and how they affect where he is now.
* This person was focused on 3 – 4 months ago, when in reality this began to change 6 – 12 months ago. In an effort to figure out what “is going on” in our bodies, we all try to pinpoint a specific point in time when “something changed.”
2. Learn more about his time after work, his commute and pinpoint specific days that work best for meal planning/purchasing.
3. Learn more about stress related to work and home to better understand appetite and hunger and food choices.
4. Review his usual food intake.
5. Reevaluate his body composition, exercise and food intake goals.
1. Revised his physical fitness/exercise goals near and far term. With an understanding of his bodies reaction to stress and his body composition, we decided to focus on his food intake first and then once that is in place, focus on changing his body composition.
2. Organized days to pick up “take out” meals from specific stores and restaurants (healthy options) to plan for days later in the week when he knows he will not be able to make dinner or grab lunch.🗓
3. Discussed trade off of meal preparation and delivery services for the short term. Often one month of one of these services, though more costly than what we think we pay at the grocery store – the savings in mental thought, food waste, time, and stress – can be worth it. 🍲
4. Once one part of your life become more orderly – it is easier to build on that with the next item to improve.
5. There’s more to this story, but that’s just a taste and example of how a nutrition service is much more than reading food logs and portions!