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Can Following a Meal Plan Help You With Your Weight Concerns? –

Can Following a Meal Plan Help You With Your Weight Concerns? –

I get it, I really do. Our society always wants quick fixes to things we are unhappy about and want to change. We don’t want it to be hard or painful, we want simple and fast solutions. Purchasing a meal plan to tell you exactly what, when, and how much to eat to “fix” your concerns about weight sounds super awesome.

Unfortunately, it’s not.

In our practice, we often hear clients say:

  • “All I want is a meal plan with exact portions and calorie limits to follow. Can you make one for me?”
  • “I just want someone to tell me exactly what to eat, how much, and when. Can you set me straight?”
  • “I don’t want to think about it anymore, it’s too complicated. I just want something to follow.”

And the list goes on…

When I use the words ‘meal plan’ I am not talking about planning your meals for the week. And then doing your meal prep.

What I am referring to is following a rigid plan for a specific amount of time telling you what you can and cannot eat that will supposedly deliver promised results.

Some dietitians, nutritionists, and personal trainers DO create meal plans for clients, and if that is what you want, to get an idea of how to eat, and what a balanced pattern of eating looks like, then that is about all it will help you with. This is only a temporary fix and will not be the solution to all your nutrition-related concerns.

Is it possible to make lasting habit change by following a meal plan?

Following a meal plan created by someone else is not an effective way to create lasting change. You must also be ready, willing and organized to be successful in creating a lasting habit. When a meal plan is just given to you, it does not address your main nutrition goals whether it be finding a happy weight or making peace with food, whatever it may be meal plans are not the solution.

Why do meal plans fail?

It is not a long-term solution for your weight concerns

Following a meal plan in hopes of seeing weight loss results is basically following a diet. Research has shown that 95-98% of people who lose weight on a diet will regain the weight back within 5 years. Also, up to 2/3 of people who lose weight will regain more than they lost. This is quite alarming as yo-yo dieting (the cyclical loss and gain of weight) increases the risk of certain diseases. Weight regain likely occurs because people do not have enough willpower to stick to the diet. This does not mean that the person failed the meal plan, the meal plan failed them.

Too rigid and restrictive

Who really wants to stick to eating from a set meal plan? Do you think you can do this for the rest of your life? We are all humans from different households that live differently and things come up in life that can create a drastic change fast. Following a meal plan is very inflexible. Imagine if your friends ask you to come out for appetizers and drinks on a Friday night… Are you really going to be happy not eating or drinking anything when you are out because it isn’t sticking to your meal plan? This sets us up to be vulnerable to binge eating after telling ourselves we can’t have certain foods that are not on our meal plan.

Disconnects us from our hunger and fullness

When you are following a meal plan that tells you exactly what you should be eating, when you should be eating, and how much you should be eating, there is no possible way you could also be listening to your hunger and fullness cues. Let’s say at 12 pm your meal plan says you must eat a sandwich and salad. You aren’t very hungry, to begin with, but you have to stick to your meal plan in order to see the results you are promised and you eat your whole meal only to feel uncomfortably full at the end. Or what if it was the end of the day and you already ate all the foods listed on your meal plan but you are still hungry? Would you go to bed hungry or reach for more food?

Makes healthy eating feel like a chore

When you search for meal plans online, they typically include a rotating list of an egg white and spinach omelet for breakfast, a tuna sandwich for lunch, a chicken salad for dinner and maybe a piece of fruit for a snack. This sounds so boring and bland to me. Eventually, you’ll be so turned off of eating the same things and since you have been told that the meal plan is healthy eating, you’ll then be turned off of eating healthy foods. You won’t be able to stick to the meal plan then you’ll feel discouraged that you have failed.

Are you still not convinced?

Now after reading this information, if you’re still not convinced that meal plans do more harm than good, I have provided you with some sample meal plans in this post. You can follow these if you desire. See how long you can stick to them and if you have reached your health goals.

When are meal plans a good idea?

If you build your own weekly meal plans with balanced meals you will:

  • Develop cooking and meal prep skills.
  • Nourish your body so that you don’t get too hungry and have uncontrollable cravings.
  • Know what you will be eating and when so you don’t end up running to the drive-thru or grocery store mid-week in need of food.
  • Learn to choose balanced recipes and meals.

What can Dietitians do to help meet your goals?

The next time your Registered Dietitian tells you they won’t give you a meal plan, don’t get annoyed – they just want to help you succeed at your nutrition-related goals. You are much more intelligent and intuitive to be given a rigid meal plan to follow telling you what you can and cannot eat.

We can help you learn what it takes to see long-term nutrition changes. This may be helping you have a more positive relationship with food, gaining a new perspective on accepting your weight or teaching you the skills to cook, build balanced meals, and meal prepping. We can provide you with grocery shopping tips and help you with recipe building by working smarter, not harder. Most importantly, we want to help you learn how to properly nourish yourself as a form of self-care. With this knowledge, you will slowly but surely be able to reach your nutrition-related goals and stick to them!

The article was written by Melissa Olbrychski

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Can Following a Meal Plan Help You With Your Weight Concerns?

If you want to learn more about how you can meal plan and prep for yourself head on over to nutritionacademy.co and take our course Get Meal Prepped Family Style.




  • To book an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians or therapists, you can:
  • Phone: 204-515-7466
  • Email: [email protected]

Book online: https://alittlenutrition.janeapp.com

*We offer direct billing to most medical insurance companies!