I say YES, if a meal plan works for you, it’s a helpful tool in your toolbox on your journey with intuitive eating. After all, if you have a disordered eating history, sometimes it’s hard to just “know what to eat” right away. A meal plan can be as healing for your body as a stepping stone into intuitive eating.
Most people don’t want to spend time obsessing over what to eat, but also have no idea how to plan meals for themselves or their families. Meal planning works because it allows you to think about your food decisions and the plan to execute what will work for you. As a bonus, a lot of people say it helps them save money too, by not spending more on last minute shopping or eating out when you struggle on what to eat.
However, the most important part of meal planning is that every person and family will be unique. There is no “one size fits all” and general recommendations will need to be personalized according to what works for you.
Here are my top 5 reasons why you need a Meal Plan and they all will benefit YOU!
- Promotes Balanced Nutrition – Because of daily activities and various schedules, sometimes it’s best to have a plan in place for the day for food. Planning your meals allows you to take control of your own personal nutrition wants and needs. You will also get to think about your food preferences and if you can get the nourishment you need for your body with the options you have available. If so, great! If not, how can you plan a little differently?
- Helps You Feel Hunger, Fullness, and Satisfaction – In the seemingly endless stream of nutrition advice, it can be hard to figure out what, when and how much to eat. Meal planning is a simple way to get consistent food in your system so your body can listen to and honor hunger and fullness signals. You want to feed your body a combination of nutrients (carbohydrate/starch, protein, fiber, fat) every three to four hours. This will help your metabolism and body sync up and work together. Once you feel comfortable with this simple meal planning strategy, you can be more flexible with intuitive eating.
- Adds Variety – Have you ever wondered what to do with the fresh fruit you keep seeing at the farmers market? Or have you thought about using the 3 cans of black beans in your pantry? Meal planning provides you with the opportunity to experiment with various foods and to try new recipes. Rather than choosing the same foods each time you shop, challenge yourself to try something new. Choosing a wide variety of foods promotes optimal health by ensuring you get a variety of nutrients for your body and mind.
- Reduces Stress – The daily question of what and when to eat is a source of anxiety for many people. Having a flexible plan in place helps reduce this pressure and allows you to focus your mental energy on other important things in life.
- Saves Money and Time – Creating a meal plan allows you to streamline your budget and your energy. With some thought into your plan, you can make a grocery shopping list and can avoid wandering up and down every aisle of the grocery store and purchasing things you likely won’t eat. Instead, you can quickly get in and out with the all the foods you want and need to create balanced meals and snacks.
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”