I often have people reaching out to me asking whether or not I do meal plans for them. Or, they may ask if The Empowered Eating Programme is suitable for someone with a family, or a health condition assuming that there are ready-made meal plans involved.
Fair enough! Set meal plans have been part of the health and fitness industry for a very long time and continue to be. Just google meal plans and you’ll be inundated – no wait don’t do that! Read this first.
You see, I’m not your standard wellness warrior and I’m ok with that. I’m in the business of long term health and in most cases, having someone meal plan for you simply doesn't contribute to that, and in many cases can have the opposite effect. Here’s why:
Set meal plans are prescriptive: They tell you to eat this not that. They are often in grams, etc.
They take us away from listening to what our body actually wants: One of the key things we re-learn in The Empowered Eating Course is to listen to our body’s individual needs and wants. It’s about learning what’s right for you so that you can feel amazing. Assigning you a meal plan will do the opposite. Some people need more food, some people need less. We’re here to be able to tune out the noise of diet and wellness culture so that you can really listen to what is right for you – having someone else create a standard meal plan for you takes you further away from that.
They can create feelings of guilt and anxiety for not ‘sticking to the plan’. There are hundreds of reasons why we might find it difficult over time to stick to a set meal plan and I’m sure you can relate to some of them. We get busy, you have to work late, you forgot to get things prepped or were too busy enjoying time with family, maybe it’s someone’s birthday or maybe you just don’t feel like a protein bar for breakfast!
We’re all different: We all have different tastes, budgets, family situations and sizes, cultures, time restraints, mental health situations, physical health conditions, intolerances, living situations, locations and the list goes on. Bottom line, we’re all different and so having someone else create a meal plan for you can only lead to frustration. Only you know you and it’s empowering to choose foods that make YOU and your family feel good rather than having some random do it for you who can only skim the surface of understanding what your current situation is.
In many cases they assume privilege: Many set meal plans leave out those who are struggling financially – even the free ones assume that the person has access to fresh vegetables and fruit at the very least and in many cases assumes that things like coconut oil and chia seeds are something we can all fit into our budget. But as we know, that’s not the case and so for me, creating meal plans for someone else based on my budget is not going to help those whose budgets are different.
They are not helpful for families. Most set meal plans are designed for individuals as it’s usually an individual seeking weight loss or health improvement. But this means that if this person has a family, they are making two, three or maybe even more separate meals to suit everyone. Who wants to do that?! Not only does this get expensive but let’s be fair. Most of us are pretty busy these days and creating meals to suit everyone can be a pain. Only you know what your family will eat and yes, there are ways to boost that meal for yourself by adding in but having someone else create an entire different meal plan for you while you create one for your family is just not sustainable in many cases.
They are designed to be short term but we all know what short term fixes do in the long run. It can be easy to stick to something short term but rigid ways of eating can lead to disordered eating habits and lasting health consequences (mental, metabolic, hormonal etc. The very opposite of what I’m trying to help you achieve.
Also, let’s be honest, nobody really likes to be told what to do. And that nagging little bit of rebellion isn’t helping.
I understand that you might be tired of trying to figure this all out on your own – it’s confusing! That’s why I created the Empowered Eating Programme – to help change that. To take away the confusion and help us to tune into our bodies. Set meal plans don’t support that and quite frankly they are a slippery slope back to diet culture and more failed attempts. When someone creates a meal plan for you it also gets harder to stick to over time. Not sure if you’ve noticed that? It's our body's way to say "enough is enough!"
So, what do I do instead? Firstly, there’s nothing wrong with planning out your own week’s meals. In fact I highly recommend it. That can help us to get some variety, to keep us sane and to keep things in budget. It’s all about the intention. So instead of me, some stranger, telling you what to eat I provide you with personal tips, support and printable templates that can help you to be a bit more organised.
Rather than planning the perfect ratio of grams, calories and macros (ugh) In the Empowered Eating Programme, I teach people about the 'crowding in' method. This is simply looking at your meal or your week and thinking to yourself – how can I boost it? It could look like adding in some fruit to your cereal or adding a bit of grated cauliflower to your rice. We also get back to basics, health 101, so that we can get rid of the confusion around healthy eating.
I also love to cook and love to share recipes and ideas. So that you might feel inspired with new ideas for your week ahead. Every week I am also adding more and more recipes to the Empowered Eating Club so that you have plenty of inspiration for the week ahead.
Food is so much more than calories in and out, it’s so much more than grams and macros. Food is shared with others, it’s cultural, it’s celebration, it’s satisfying and it’s connection to our bodies and each other.
And so, bottom line is – I don’t do meal plans for others because not only do they not set people up for long term health – they can also get in the way of that goal. I know it can be a bit more work to create your own, but that’s why I’m here – to support and to simplify the process until it’s a piece of cake. Mmmmm cake.