Meal Plans - Why I Typically Don't Provide Them

When I have a call with prospective client, I often get asked if I provide meal plans. My answer is typically no. Some are disappointed, at first, but once I explain why, it starts to make sense.

For starters, most people cannot follow a meal plan exactly as it is written. Life gets in the way. We are all busy and don't have time to prepare every meal from a recipe or measure every serving of food we eat. And, that is not sustainable. I want clients to be able put together a balanced meal or snack that will serve their body well. 

Also, a client may not enjoy all the foods included in the meal plan. During the intake process I try to get a good idea of what foods clients enjoy and dislike, but it's impossible to know everything. For instance, the photos show the same meal but with one person that likes red meat and the other person only likes fish. We also learn through the intake process that certain foods may not agree with each client's body and this is different for everyone and can change over time. 

Lastly, meal plans are not sustainable and they should not be. A meal plan is meant only for a particular period of time. Even if a client were to finish the meal plan exactly, then what does he do? He didn't really learn much in the process regarding food choice. 

My number one goal is to establish an eating style that is sustainable and enjoyable for each client, which will look different for each client. It needs to fit with her lifestyle and provide satisfaction. It's important to me that I meet every client where he or she is right now. We start with a 3 day food log. I can see daily patterns, nutrition deficiencies and macronutrient imbalances that are keeping the client from achieving her goals. During the first meeting, we discuss how the client wants to approach dietary changes and I recommend changes to breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  I also provide recipes that factor in the client's desire and time for meal prep. As we continue our relationship, clients typically get more adventurous.  We are able to add more variety and possibly even a little more food prep, but we start easy. 

There are special cases where a meal plan is needed, such as dealing with GI issues or an elimination diet, but in most cases a meal plan only ends in frustration. I want to work with my clients to establish a lifelong love of food and how it affects their bodies.