Let’s talk about planning. One of the things that I hear all the time from prospective clients is: “I just need a meal plan, then I will lose weight (lower cholesterol, manage blood sugar, etc).”
Yes, and no.
What happens when the plan goes awry? Think about your day-to-day activities. Work days are regimented and on-pointe, perhaps even the same from week to week- hello taco Tuesday! Breakfast is always the same or closely the same, lunch is planned for convenience, budget, or time, and dinner is generally the same pattern of foods.
Now, think about the weekend. This is where many people feel like they are falling off the wagon- eating out, eating fewer or more meals, snacking, treating oneself, maybe drinking more. Basically, celebrating the fact that it isn’t Monday. If we dig a little deeper into our patterns we can begin to see that we have created a reward/restrict cycle based on our modern lifestyle. It’s no wonder we are constantly in a cycle of guilt, binge, repent, restrict with food!
I began to notice this pattern in myself after changing from a 9-5 (read as: 5am-7pm) corporate job to a schedule in constant flux. Some days, my work has me working at all 3 meal times, other days I could schedule a morning and an afternoon nap and have plenty of time to cook, prep, and eat luxury meals. I work with clients all the time on removing the patterns, looking for ways to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, and accepting the ebbs and flows of life. So how come I fell into the patterns myself?
Because I’m human. No kidding, you heard it here first. No one is infallible, especially me!
When we create an environment where there is reward and restricting we are potentially creating “forbidden foods” or a shame centered environment. Pizza is for Friday, tacos on Tuesday, breakfast must be cereal or eggs. We need to eat 3 meals a day, 2 snacks, and drink 2 gallons of water. So much so that we become obsessed with food, prepping food, buying food, planning food, and so on. It’s honestly exhausting!
How can we change the cycle? In the simplest terms (not easy, but simple) by eliminating food rules. No matter how much we feel like we need them and learning how to feel true hunger and satiety. Eating for fuel first and choosing to eat for comfort if it suits us, not because there is no other option. The first step is awareness. Become more aware of the patterns. No judgement, simply becoming aware. Keep track in a journal for a few weeks, see if anything pops. Break the rules, and more importantly give yourself permission to break the rules. Release food from the hold it has on you and begin to live and eat free.
It is ok to skip breakfast if you aren’t hungry, eat when you become hungry, even if that is ten am. Once you start to hone in on hunger signals you will be more in control. Eating what, and how much you need to stay fueled and at your best. Foods that don’t serve you will become less appealing, and food will still be enjoyable but less prominent in your life. Your health will improve, weight will level out, and you will feel good about how you feel in your body.
The last thing you need is another diet plan, you need a life plan.