Boring old Broccoli
Came across this cool blog post yesterday! One of the key things that stood out to me is this preconceived notion of meal prep being bland broccoli! Anyone that has prepped with Alicia Gowans knows the diversity and ease that her prep coaching comes with. If you want to learn more – inbox us today!
“Broccoli again?!” my friend exclaimed, as he inspected my lunch. “How much of that stuff are you eating?”
“I know, I know” I said. “But my plan says I can only have broccoli with this meal.”
I sat in the break room at the gym where I was working, seven years ago, and I had just microwaved what could have easily been my bazillionth steamer bag of broccoli.
I had lavishly seasoned those green, cruciferous trees with salt and pepper. I had tried dipping them in mustard, dousing them in vinegar, and covering them with hot sauce. Nothing helped. It still tasted like the same soggy broccoli that I had gagged down several times per day for months.
Why was I eating a food that I despised, and tons of it? Because my meal plan said so.
I had chosen to follow a very rigid meal plan in an attempt to lose body fat. This plan outlined exactly which foods I could eat, how much, and when.
Along with gross amounts of broccoli, my plan called for the following foods: egg whites, chicken breast, lean ground turkey, tilapia, asparagus, oats, sweet potato, protein powder, and about one tablespoon of peanut butter per day, which was only enough to piss me off.
The first few weeks of eating these foods were fine. I liked the ten (!) foods the plan called for when I started, but after a few weeks of “Groundhog Day” meals, I slowly started to dread them. Eventually, I couldn’t stand them. I would shovel down my food just to get it over with, because any enjoyment I got from eating was long gone, leaving me incredibly unsatisfied.
I was only able to follow this meal plan for so long, before I finally had enough, and scrapped it. I simply couldn’t be relegated to the same foods over and over again. It was crazy-making. Ultimately, the cons outweighed the pros. There just had to be a better approach.
Meal Plan Pros and Cons
While specific meal plans can work when it comes to altering your body composition, results are usually extremely short-lived. These types of meal plans are not a long-term, sustainable strategy. Very few people can adhere to the typically short list of foods in this type of meal plan forever — and more importantly, who would want to?! It’s simply not a realistic approach.
Besides, what fun is seeing great results if they don’t last? Nobody wants to make amazing progress for 4 to 6 weeks, only to go reeling backwards as soon as you stop following a meal plan, and go back to “normal” eating!
“Meal plan” will mean different things to different people. For some, it’s merely a flexible style of eating that welcomes an indefinite variety of foods across a broad spectrum of qualities, such as an ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ (IIFYM) approach, where you simply need to meet a specific number of macronutrients (protein, carb, and dietary fat) each day; it doesn’t matter how you get there, so long as you hit those numbers.
For others, the term “meal plan” refers to that very strict type of plan that I followed many years ago. The type of plan that may tell you to have five egg whites, ½ cup of oats, and 1 TBSP of peanut butter at breakfast at exactly 8am, and in which there is no flexibility. This extreme type of meal plan is what this article will mostly be referring to.
Nutrition coaches and personal trainers are dishing these types of plans out left and right to their clients who are typically not training for a sport or competition; these are people who merely want to feel better and get in shape. It’s like killing a housefly with a bazooka – it’s not necessary.
Following a strict meal plan may seem great in theory. In practice, however, it’s a different story entirely.
Many people understand that a plan like this isn’t forever, and they believe that they can use it to “jump-start” weight loss. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Because they haven’t laid the foundation of healthful eating, and instead, merely focused on following their plan to a “t,” as soon as they stop following the plan, they revert to old eating habits and find themselves right back where they started, or worse, even further behind because they start eating everything in sight now that they’re not on the strict plan. Not to mention, what a number this experience does to the person’s state of mind!
It’s not uncommon for a woman on this type of meal plan to find herself becoming obsessed with the plan, bending over backwards trying to “perfectly” follow the plan to the letter, come hell or high water. Then, Real Life happens (as it always will), and inevitably she ends up going “off-plan” — and feeling like she failed.
Similarly, when she finally realizes that she can’t continue to follow this type of approach because it’s not realistic, and she can’t maintain the results she got from following the strict plan, she once again feels like a failure.
Meal plans like this don’t take the most vital component into consideration: there is a human being (not a machine) following the plan. A human being with a busy schedule, food preferences, a social life, formed habits, and a finite source of willpower.
– Jen Comas