Category: Wellness Tips

 

realistic holiday health tips

 

It’s December! That means Christmas party platters, warm cozy beverages, and a cornucopia of cookies and candies. For some, these goodies can add stress to the holidays, taking away from the real focus of the season. Here are some tips to navigate the next few weeks while staying healthy in your body and mind.

 

1. Prioritize

Our natural tendency is to take a little bit of everything at any given holiday event. Often, though, we don’t even truly love all of these treats. Skim the spread and honestly ask yourself which items are sure to delight you. Which one would you be sad to leave without? Dish up and enjoy! If there are others that aren’t your favorites, don’t take them by default. Make sure to prioritize what you really love!

 

2. Set Yourself up for Success

It’s tough to enjoy a holiday when you aren’t feeling well, and we all know that certain foods (in certain amounts) affect us in uncomfortable ways. If a gathering is potluck-style, bring a food that you know leaves you feeling great. Then you know there will be at least one dish that won’t leave you feeling less than your best. If you don’t have the option to bring something, snack on some feel-good foods before you head out.

 



 

3. Take Your Time

Don’t rush the experience – eating holiday food is a seasonal delight to be savored. Make a plate, have a seat, and visit with a loved one as you eat. Take time to enjoy each bite and chew well (this helps with digestion as well as enjoyment)! After finishing your plate, give yourself 10-15 minutes before you go back for seconds. Our satiety signals sometimes take a bit to kick in. Waiting can help prevent painful over-fullness!

 

4. Get Your Move On

You don’t have to kill it in the gym (unless you like to!). Just keep moving to keep from cabin fever and prevent your muscles and joints from getting tight or achy. Go for a frosty walk with a pet, spend a few minutes stretching before bed, do a Christmas boogie, or head for the mountains for a day of sledding or skiing.

 



 

5. Enjoy!

Do not let worries about your health or weight consume your holidays. Your mental health is a much larger part of your overall wellness than that Christmas cookie. Practice balance, give yourself grace, and enjoy every second with your family, friends and favorite foods.

 

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Wellness Tips

is olive oil the best cooking oil

 

A couple of weeks ago, I wrapped up a three week stent on the Mediterranean Diet. The guidelines of the Mediterranean Diet recommend that your primary fat source be olive oil, supplemented by fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. Olive oil is an excellent choice of fat – it’s loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).1 Benefits of diets high in MUFAs include:

  • improved blood sugar and insulin sensitivity2
  • lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol2
  • blood vessels less prone to blockages2
  • possibly lower blood pressure2
  • reduced inflammatory responses3

The discovery and publication of these benefits led to a surge in the use of olive oil in all kinds of cooking and baking, for good reason! Who wouldn’t want to reap these benefits? There was, however, one concern looming regarding the use of olive oil in promoting health.

 



 

Smoke Points and Health

‘Smoke point’ is a term frequently discussed in the culinary world. Different oils have different temperatures at which they begin to create smoke and their aromas and flavors begin to change. This temperature is unique to each oil depending on its chemical composition and level of refinement/processing (and even varietal of the plant source4). They can also vary depending on what foods are being cooked in the oils.

Culinary experts recommend not cooking an oil beyond its smoke point largely because of the change in flavor. In addition, some voice concerns about the change in chemical composition that occurs when oils are heated beyond their smoke points.5-7 The general school of thought is that if an oil is heated beyond this point, it produces inflammatory, potentially carcinogenic compounds and some of the oil’s healthful properties can be diminished.8-9

 



 

Here’s where things start to get a bit dicey. Depending on who you ask, the smoke point of olive oil can be anywhere from 390-468° F, with the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) being anywhere from 325-410° F.5, 7, 10  Pretty significant ranges! Different cooking methods require different cooking temperatures, shown below.

  • Saute: 300-320° F
  • Pan-Fry: 350-400° F
  • Deep Fry: 350-400° F

Now you might conclude that olive oil is a good choice for a saute and possibly not the best choice for a good hot fry (depending on whose smoke point you go with). A 2018 study by Modern Olives Laboratory Services found that the negative changes that can occur with oils in heating are not so much related to their smoke points as to their general chemical stability.11 After heating many different oils and testing their chemical compositions at high heats for over 24 hours, the researchers found that EVOO was the most stable cooking oil, producing the lowest amounts of oxidative compounds when heated. I’m always hesitant to trust studies whose authors have significant financial stock in the outcome, but this claim is backed by other studies which found that virgin and extra virgin olive oils contained fewer harmful compounds and more antioxidants after frying for several hours, though the antioxidants are less effective after heating.4, 9, 12-14 

 



 

So, should I cook with olive oil or not?

Yes – it turns out cooking with olive oil (particularly extra virgin olive oil) seems to be both a safe and nutritious way to saute or to fry foods. This newer information about olive oil’s stability helps to reconcile the health of those who follow a Mediterranean Diet with previous health concerns about the potential dangers of heating it. As a general rule, try not to use more heat than is necessary for your cooking job and limit time spent on the heat when you can.

Writing this post has actually changed the recommendations I will make to my clients, because I previously subscribed to the “smoke point” theory until I updated myself with this new research. That’s one of the many reasons I make sure to continue to keep up with this blog – it forces me to stay up to date and back up my recommendations!

 



 

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References

1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9781855739659500042

3. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/9558730

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21714128

5. https://www.jessicagavin.com/smoke-points-cooking-oils

6. https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/05/cooking-fats-101-whats-a-smoke-point-and-why-does-it-matter.html

7. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/smoke-point-matters-in-cooking-with-oil/article26569060/

8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21714128

9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17995742

10. https://www.aboutoliveoil.org/olive-oil-smoke-point

11. https://actascientific.com/ASNH/pdf/ASNH-02-0083.pdf

12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814615006810?via%3Dihub

13. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/1541-4337.12268

14. https://hortintl.cals.ncsu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/2017novemberchangesinchemicalcompositionsofoliveoilunderdifferentheatingtemperaturessimilartohomecoo.pdf

 



Heart Healthy Mediterranean Diet Wellness Tips

do you have a food addiction?

 

Many of my clients wonder if they have a problem with food, because they find themselves craving sugar or bingeing on snacks or treats, especially at nighttime. There are several steps you can take to identify or overcome food addiction. The first and most important thing is to determine what causes your food cravings. Determining the cause will help you discover whether or not you have a food addiction or if there is another potential cause for your food cravings.

 

How to Determine what triggers your cravings

 

Check in with your intakes 

Most of the time, cravings are a response to a need for fuel. Many of my clients get cravings in the evenings, especially for sweets or salty snacks, because they are undereating either carbohydrates or calories throughout the day. More than half of my clients who are trying to lose weight are actually undereating, so honestly assess the possibility that you might be over-restricting. Common symptoms include low energy, poor sleep (or sleeping too much), brain fog, fatigue, memory issues, and food cravings, especially cravings for carbohydrates or sugar.

If you aren’t sure (most of my clients assume they need to eat less than they actually should), find a Registered Dietitian to help you know how much you should actually eat. For reference, most adult clients should be eating more than 1400 calories and well over 100 grams of carbohydrate daily (even if you’re trying to lose weight or if you have diabetes). Calorie tracking apps and online calculators are often inaccurate.

 



 

Assess your emotions

If you are certain you are meeting your body’s nutritional needs and you still struggle with a compulsion to eat unhealthful foods on a regular basis, try looking at your emotions. The second most common cause of food cravings has to do with dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes us feel content. Negative emotions are usually paired with low dopamine. The brain sees low dopamine as a problem that needs to be fixed and will often go hunting for a way to raise it. Eating delicious food is a quick way to get a rush of dopamine, so often our brains go straight to the fridge to fix the problem. Your brain doesn’t care if you eat ice cream, it wants dopamine. Ask yourself if you are experiencing a negative emotion. Boredom, loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression are common culprits.

If so, the first line of attack is to try to raise dopamine in a way that doesn’t involve food. You can do this by turning to an activity that you truly enjoy. Calling a friend, doing a crossword, going for a walk, or reading a book are examples of activities my clients have used. The key is that you enjoy it – otherwise it doesn’t raise your dopamine!

Sometimes you don’t have the time to do an alternative activity, so the next line of attack is to try to find a healthier food option. Craving salty snacks? Go for a couple handfuls of tortilla chips with salsa,  pretzels, or whole grain chips or crackers (Sun Chips and Triscuits are great options). Sweet tooth calling out to you? Try frozen grapes,  graham crackers, or berries with vanilla yogurt or whipped topping.

Finally, if you know that a healthier activity or alternative will not do the trick, it’s not a failure. The best thing you can do is try to moderate the amount of food you eat. Three to four bites of a desired food can cause the peak amount of dopamine response within the following 10-15 minutes. The take-home message? Rather than eat continually until your dopamine peaks and you feel better, try to savor that tasty food for 3-4 bites then wait 10-15 minutes. After that, reassess to see if you still feel like you need more.

 



 

Seek an outside opinion

If you have evaluated the above topics and are still struggling to get to the root of your food cravings, it could be possible that you have a food addiction. Evaluation for food addiction is still in its early stages. Researchers from Yale University have created a food addiction scale but the scoring system is complex and it is not widely used. For now, the best method is to meet with a Registered Dietitian and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Since food addiction by nature exhibits crossover between mental health and food habits, each professional can have valuable perspective. If it turns out that you do have addictive food behaviors, a holistic treatment plan will involve them both as well.

 

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How Your Body Works Wellness Tips

Sometimes life gets in the way of meeting the goals we want to meet…some things don’t seem realistic in the moment, but that doesn’t mean you should let the time pass you by! Learn something new, take a baby step, or build on your basics. Just keep moving forward!

 

keep moving forward

Goal Setting

 

Bacteria aren’t always bad! In fact, your digestive tract is loaded with colonies of these little guys. While some can be harmful, most are helpful. Having a good balance of bacteria in your intestines (aka gut bacteria) can be a critical piece of your overall health puzzle.

 

Less than ideal gut bacteria have been linked to depression, anxiety, overeating, food cravings, brain fog, fatigue, diabetes, obesity, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal damage, among other issues.1-5 Tending to the needs of the tiny bacterial warriors in your gut can be hugely beneficial to your wellness. Here’s are four groups of foods you can eat to support your gut health:

 

Probiotic foods

probiotic foods

 

What they do: Probiotic foods contain the good bacteria that can help reinforce the armies in your gut. Different strains of probiotics have been researched for different health benefits. For example, L. plantarum and L. rhamnosus are linked to lower levels of stress hormones and increased amounts of intestinal building blocks.1, 2 L. heleveticus and B. longum improved stress responses in mice.4

How much: Since research into the benefits different strains of probiotics is still in the works, there is no official probiotic recommendation.

How to get them: Foods that are fermented often retain healthful bacteria all the way into your digestive system. Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi all contain healthful probiotics.

 

Vitamins A and D

What they do: Both of these vitamins are linked to improved intestinal and mental health.1

How much: For vitamin A, men should aim for 900 mcg and women 700 mcg per day. For vitamin D, aim for 600 IUs per day unless you’re over 70, then boost that to 800 IU daily.*

How to get them: Boost vitamin A intake with a serving of sweet potato (1403 mcg), spinach (573 mcg), carrots (459 mcg), cantaloupe (135 mcg), red peppers (117 mcg), or mango (112 mcg).

We get vitamin D primarily from exposure to sunlight, but if your area lacks that for some or all of the year (heyyyyy Western Washington!), try a serving of salmon (447 IU), canned tuna (154 IU), and dairy or dairy alternatives with added vitamin D (115-125 IU). For many living far from the equator, a vitamin D supplement can be a wise idea, but ask your doctor to check your vitamin D status first.

 



 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

anti-inflammatory fats to heal your gutWhat they do: Supplementation with the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA is linked with improved gut bacteria and reduced anxiety- and depression-related behaviors.4

How much: 1.6 g per day for men, 1.1 g per day for women.*

How to get them: Different forms of omega-3s are absorbed and utilized at different rates. To get the most usable EPA and DHA, eat a serving of salmon (1.5-1.8 g), mackerel (1.0 g), or trout (.84 g). For non-fish-eaters, plant-based sources of omega-3s contain ALA which can be converted to EPA and DHA, but only about 15% of the ALA is converted. These ALA sources include a serving of chia seeds (5.06 g), flax seeds (2.35 g), black walnuts (.76 g), and edamame (.28 g). If you aren’t likely to meet recommendations with food, a daily omega-3 supplement can back you up. Be sure to choose one that is “burpless” or “enteric coated” to avoid fishy-smelling breath.

 

Prebiotic Fibers

support healthy gut floraWhat they do: “Prebiotic fibers” are specific types of fiber that the bacteria in your gut like to snack on. Keeping a healthy colony of good bacteria well-fed can keep your intestinal lining strong and regulate digestion.1, 4-5 For those who already have a bacterial imbalance or a condition like inflammatory bowel disease, some of these can actually worsen symptoms. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about your gut health.

How much: There isn’t a specific recommendation for prebiotic fiber intake, but 25-30 grams of fiber covers it for most adults.*

How to get them: Most whole plants foods are good places to find fiber. For prebiotic fibers, go for lentils, kidney beans, apples, currants, dates, figs, and whole grains like wheat, rye, and barley.

 



 

*Recommended intakes and food nutrient contents were obtained from National Institutes of Health fact sheets. Children and pregnant or lactating women may have different recommendations.

 

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  1. Bischoff SC, Barbara G, Buurman W, et al. Intestinal permeability – a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC Gastroenterol. 2014;14:189. Accessed from:  https://bmcgastroenterol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12876-014-0189-7.
  2. Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, et al. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiotia, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015;28(2):203-209.
  3. Galley JD, Nelson MC, Yu Z, et al. Exposure to a single stressor disrupts the community structure of the colonic mucosa-associated microbiota. BMC Microbiol. 2014;14. Accessed from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25028050/
  4. Foster JA, Rinaman L, Cryan JF. Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome. Neurobiol Stress. 2017;7:124-136.
  5. Oriach CS, Robertson RC, Stanton C, et al. Food for thought: The role of nutrition in microbiotia-gut-brain axis. Clin Nutr Exp. 2016;6:25-38.

 



Wellness Tips

hacks for losing weight

 

Regardless of your body’s size, maintaining positive habits makes a significant difference in your overall health. Sometimes, though, your health goal itself may include losing some extra fat that is causing you discomfort or health problems. Weight loss is a commonly sought after and frequently frustrating goal – mostly because there is so much confusion about how to effectively go about it! After working as a dietitian for 6 years, I’ve compiled a list of my top 15 weight loss tips to help you meet your goals. Enjoy!

 

1. Ease into it

I know this might be a weird thing to hear from a dietitian, but don’t come out of the gate doing every healthy thing you can think of. Plan a couple of healthy changes, add them into your life, get used to them for a few weeks, then add in a couple more.

 

There are a couple of reasons I recommend this – first of all, it’s much more likely that you’ll be able to stick with your new habits if you have a little time to get used to them and work out the kinks. Second, nearly everyone will run into a plateau at some point on their journey. For plateaus lasting more than 2-3 weeks, it’s nice to have a couple of healthy changes in mind to get things moving again. If you start out by maxing out your exercise and strictly limiting your food intakes, you don’t have anywhere to go when things inevitably get stuck.

 

2. Be part of your own plan

As tempting as it is – trust me, I know – avoid going for pre-made meal or diet plans. These plans are convenient and seem simple, but they were not made to match your lifestyle. They may get you moving along for a week or two (or even a month or two), without teaching you to make your lifestyle more healthful. Often, they contain foods you don’t care for and leave out some of your favorites – that’s no way to live! This is one reason I don’t make meal plans for my clients. Participating in the creation of your own healthy plan will help you practice making a healthy lifestyle that you actually enjoy and can follow long term. If you’re lost on how to do this, find a Registered Dietitian to help you!

 

3. Don’t expect (or aspire to) perfection

Do not expect to never eat your favorite foods. Do not aspire to never eat your favorite foods. It makes me sad just to think of it! You can and should include all kinds of foods that you enjoy while meeting your health goals. Do it intentionally and without guilt. Including favorite foods will help your plan be sustainable and enjoyable, and prevent out-of-control bingeing.

 



 

4. Consider your personality

A sustainable healthy lifestyle is about so much more than calorie calculations and exercise. Consider aspects of your personality that you may never have thought of in relation to nutrition and fitness before. Are you detail-oriented? Tech savvy? Flexible? Need structure? Tend to obsess? All of those things should play into your choices about which paths to take. If you’re not sure how to do that, check out this handy graphic to guide you.

 

5. “Begin as you mean to go on”

Originally said by Charles Spurgeon, the sentiment of the quote is to only begin a life change that you expect to be able to continue long-term. Do not begin any nutrition plan that you only intend to follow temporarily. Your plan should be sustainable. Now, sometimes, life will happen and you’ll have to change up your plan accordingly, or you’ll change it up to match your workouts, for example. The point is that you shouldn’t embark on a plan that you know beforehand will be too hard to stick with after a few months.

 

healthy habits that fit your life

 

6. Embrace the trial and error

Approach your healthy plan as a series of trials and errors, designed to find the healthy plan that perfectly fits your life. If you try something that doesn’t work, it’s not failure, it’s information. That wasn’t the right approach for you. Try another! Keep going, and you’ll have ironed all of the wrinkles out of your plan and it will fit your lifestyle like a glove.

 

7. Make sure you’re eating enough

There is so much bad info out there. Weight loss is so much more than eating less and moving more. In fact, about half of the clients I see who are trying to lose weight are undereating, not overeating.  Their undereating is what keeps them from being able to lose weight! Without going into the nitty-gritty hormonal details, chronic over-restriction leads your metabolism to slow down and puts your body in fat-saving/fat-storage mode. Strict calorie restrictive diets actually teach your body to store fat. The next time someone says that you should be eating 1200 calories per day to lose weight, just let that comment roll off your back. The goal is to eat exactly what your body needs, minus just a tad. Then your body won’t mind filling in the gaps with extra fat.

 



 

8. Don’t fear the carbohydrate!

While we’re on the subject of slowed metabolism, let me address one of the most common weight loss mistakes I see – undereating carbohydrates! Poor carbohydrates, they get such a bad rap as being one of the leading causes of weight gain. Not true! Carbs are the primary fuel our bodies use. When our bodies don’t get enough carbs for a while, they slow our metabolisms down to “survive the winter.”

This is why nearly every low-carb diet works spectacularly for a while, then weight tends to plateau. Typically as soon as you start adding carbohydrates back in (no matter how gradually), most of the lost weight comes back. This is because your body believes it is now summer again – time to start stocking up fat for the next period of starvation!

This is not to say that a mild decrease in carbohydrates can’t help speed weight loss, but drastic reductions are not the answer for sustainable weight loss. Lose the weight in a way that includes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, but choose well in each category. Go for complex and nutrient-dense carbohydrates like whole fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and low-fat dairy or dairy alternatives. Choose lean proteins like skinless poultry, lean beef or pork, fish, eggs, and nuts. Aim for liquid, plant-based fats like avocado oil and olive oil. Add plenty of antioxidant-laden veggies. 🙂

 

9. Hold steady (and expect plateaus)

Plateaus happen for all but the very lucky in weight-loss journeys. Sometimes they happen for a discernable reason, sometimes your body just isn’t feeling like losing weight that week. Don’t stress, and continue doing what you are doing. If your weight sticks for more than 2-3 weeks, only then is it time to consider tweaking your plan. Try adding a little time or intensity to your workouts, or add in some cross-training.

 

10. Build in non-scale victories

Keep goals besides weight-loss goals, because sometimes the scale just doesn’t want to reflect the hard work you’re putting in. It happens. To everyone.

My faves are achievement goals. They are the most fun! Explore new territory – maybe something you’ve always dreamed of doing but never believed you could do. Want to learn to box? Hike part (or all!) of the Pacific Crest Trail? Ride a horse? Become a personal trainer? Play tag with your grandkids? Skydive?

Pick one that fires you up. Consider your workouts training for that dream. Be consistent. Achieve it. Pick a new goal. Rinse and repeat.

 



 

11. Embrace health improvements, not just pounds lost

Along those lines, make changes for their benefit to your health, disease prevention, or an increase in energy. Believe in the good you are doing for your body by moving it more, eating more vegetables, or drinking more water. Read handouts or books about it if you need to! Sometimes it seems the only reason someone is willing to do anything healthy is to watch the number on the scale go down. While that can be a satisfying and healthy goal, the scale does not always cooperate (as mentioned above). If you’re putting all your eggs in that basket, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. Instead, notice the way your body feels – your energy levels, your digestion, your skin, the way your clothes fit. All of those are signs that you’re headed in the right direction, and none of them require weight loss.

 

achieve your health goals

 

12. Ditch an “all-or-nothing” mindset

Some people are inclined to have an “all-or-nothing” mindset, particularly about nutrition or fitness. Either they’re doing all the things – eating “clean,” working out out 5 times a week, drinking enough water, and taking their vitamins – or they’ve given up on being healthy. One day of a missed workout or a serving of french fries leads them to throw in the towel on all of their healthy habits. Health does not work this way, and neither should you think this way about your health. Every step is a step in a healthier direction. Don’t let one “imperfect” moment tell you how everything has to be. Just pick it back up and move on.

 

13. Steer clear of “diet lingo”

While we’re at it, avoid phrases like “eat clean,” “cheat days,” “cutting carbs” and “guilty pleasure.”

There’s nothing dirty about dessert, eating cheese is not cheating, carbs don’t need cutting (except with a bread knife), and no tasty food should make you feel guilty.

Using these phrases reinforces the mindset behind them, and that is not a helpful mindset. All food can fit in a balanced weight-loss lifestyle.

 

14. Rewrite your cassette tapes

This is an idea one of my clients had and I loved it. She said she had all of these old self-deprecating diet “cassette tapes” playing in her head, telling her she was too fat, shaming her for what she would choose to eat, or telling her that fruit was bad because it was too high in sugar. As she was working with me, she learned that the voices on these tapes were misinformed or just plain wrong. She had to make a conscious effort to “record over” the unhelpful voices with something she knew to be true. She actively thought about how nutritious fruit is and how the fiber helps her digestion, or how she is making many efforts to improve her health and she should not be ashamed for the choice she is making now. Rewriting her tapes enabled her to take charge from all of those old, useless philosophies that had held her back for years.

 

15. Believe in yourself – no matter how long it takes, you can do it.

If you follow the other tips, losing weight and making healthy changes shouldn’t be excruciating. If it is, it’s time to change your plan! I certainly won’t say it will be a walk in the park (though it may involve some of those!), but it’s doable. It takes consistency, patience, and dedication to the process over anything else. Slow and steady, and if you need some help, go and get it. There’s no shame in that. You can lose weight. You can improve your health.  Believe it.

 



Wellness Tips

How to Make an Effective Meal Plan

 

Ahhh pre-made meal plans…I gotta tell ya, I love to hate ’em. Finding them, selecting them, and most of all, following them. They are stinky, like fish. That will make more sense in a few paragraphs. Promise.

Why are they stinky, you ask? Well I would be more than happy to tell you.

The food we eat is connected to everything in our lives. Everything. Your budget, your spouse (or lack of spouse), your kids (and their preferences, allergies, and appetites), your schedule, your culture, and your mood all play in to the food you choose to eat. That being said, someone would have to thoroughly understand all of those things about you in order to select foods that are good options for a meal plan for you. Now, how many meal plan makers know you that well?

Let’s take, for example, some meal plans I’ve been on in the past for different blog experiments. For the heart healthy meal plan I followed, the ingredients increased my grocery budget by 75%! Typically I use dinner leftovers for lunches, but that meal plan used NO leftovers for ANYTHING. You know what that gets you (besides an expensive grocery trip)? A fridge full of leftovers waiting to go bad. It also leaves you cooking two meals every night – dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. Not sustainable, functional, or enjoyable.

 



 

My final gripe about following meal plans made by others? Sometimes I just don’t like the food. Like, for example, coleslaw. I’m not a huge fan, but it’s on the meal plan, because the person who made it didn’t know me and my lack of appreciation for coleslaw. So here I am, either eating coleslaw or feeling as though I somehow “failed” my meal plan because I didn’t like it.

And you know what else (yes, I lied about the final gripe part)? As a dietitian, my goal is to empower my patients to live a healthy life they love. Now even if I gave them the perfect meal plan that worked great for their lifestyle, are they empowered? What will they do when the week-long meal plan is over? Will they just eat the same food week after week forever?

Of course not.

Remember the old saying, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and feed him for the rest of his life”? Well, a meal plan is a fish.

 



 

I can give someone a meal plan fish and they can meet their nutritional goals for a week (if they manage to stick with a meal plan someone else made), or I can teach someone how to plan for themselves and meet their health and quality of life goals. Truly, they are the only ones who know themselves well enough to do it. So usually, if my client’s would like to have weekly meal plans, we set aside a portion of each of their appointments and make the meal plan together. It’s not easy and it’s awkward at first, but once they get the hang of it they are empowered. After a few sessions they’ve got the hang of it and they’re making their own meals plans (that they love, that fit their budget and their health goals). They can eat for life – on a budget and with foods they love! And that is why I love what I do.

And why I hate stinky meal plan fish. End rant.

 

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Wellness Tips