Have you ever followed a meal plan? Did your breakfast look like a math homework? 50 g of wholegrain bread, 100 g of cottage cheese, 8 g of butter, and 120 g of tomatoes. Sounds hard, right? There are better ways of doing it. Let’s look at the most common reasons why these meal plans fail.
It’s hard to stick to a specific plan
Probably the biggest issue with meal plans, especially with those where you have to weight each ingredient of every meal, is that they are hard to do. If you live in the real world, there’s a lot that can get in the way.
• You have to work late
• You travel and can’t choose the right foods
• You get too tired to prepare food for the next day
• Your kids get sick
• There’s a celebration and cakes are all around
It’s not a natural relationship with food
People are used to eating meals, not ingredients. People enjoy eating out and sharing a table with friends and family. Food is a social thing. Counting ingredients by the gram creates a weird and unnatural relationship with food. And it can be isolating when no one else in your social circle is doing the same thing.
You don’t have a follow up
Another problem with meal plans is that they don’t teach you how to improvise they don’t give you the tools to continue after the plan ends. Following a strict plan can be very mentally demanding and people often feel like going back to what they know, back to what’s easy. And it doesn’t matter if you finish it or quit midway, as soon as you go back to your bad eating habits, all of the weight and health issues will start coming back. And with a newly acquired mind set of “healthy eating sucks” you may never try again.
What to do instead?
If you want to improve in a sustainable way then you have to start with how you eat now. Identify one meal and focus on making a change there. Make an improvement that you can keep. If you are eating a burger and fries on the go as your lunch then maybe you should get a salad with that, eat only half the fries, and sit down to eat in front of your computer. Small changes like that don’t feel impossible, and the good feeling of making a successful change will make you more likely to continue. That way you can slowly get to a healthier diet you actually want to follow over the long term.