Real or Not Real: Meal Planning With A Purpose
In the third installment of his Real or Not Real blog series, Profile’s Coach of Coaches, Chris Clark, explores the importance of making meal planning meaningful.
In terms of meal planning, we couldn’t live in more confusing times. In a recent Harvard Medical School study, researchers found that people significantly underestimate the calories in their meals. It seems that we have lost touch with what is in what we eat.
Counting and Tracking Calories is Tricky
If you search “how many calories do I need to eat per day” on Google, you’ll find that most of the results will offer a generic, one-size-fits-all suggestion. The problem with this is that people aren’t manufactured in a factory – everyone is unique and living their lives under different circumstances. When we read an article claiming that the average man or woman needs 2,000 calories per day, that’s where we tend to slip away from reality and make goals that may not be in our best interest.
If you are going to count calories and make plans regarding what you want to eat, you have to get real about what you need specifically; no one else’s plan will fit. Profile coaching starts with making healthy changes to help you discover what the new you really needs. We have to get away from what is recommended for others and seek a deep understanding of what you need.
Outside Factors Do Not Compute
There are many calculators out there that attempt to figure out how many calories you need (we even use one to help identify possible goals). No calculator can factor in your stress level, your sleep patterns, and your social life at your new weight, and so on. Psychological and environmental factors like these cannot be calculated. The only way to truly understand your real calorie needs is to live it, and I highly recommend doing it with your Profile coach.
Over the course of several weeks at your goal weight, you can start to see how the scale responds to certain sustained calorie ranges. When you get a feel for what life is like at your goal weight, you will start to make new meaning in meal planning and counting calories.
If meal planning has been difficult for you in the past, here’s 5 steps to help you develop a meal plan that fits your individual needs:
STEP 1: Start A Food Journal
Start documenting everything you eat and drink each day in a log or online tracker. You may be surprised at how much food you consume on a daily basis.
STEP 2: Practice Portion Control
When cooking at home, use a food scale to help you create meals in healthy portions.
STEP 3: Restaurants – Know Before You Go
Studiously review what restaurants in your area have to offer so you can make better decisions about where you eat out. Pay special attention to portions, cooking styles and nutrition facts. Many restaurant foods are extremely high in calories because they add sugar, fats and sodium to make food taste better.
STEP 4: See Food Differently
Change the way you look at food. Sit down with your Profile coach and have a chat about how to view food as fuel for your body. Talk about what your body needs versus what your brain wants.
STEP 5: Map Out Your Meals
Meal planning should be the last step in the process, even though its often flipped to first. After you’ve gone through steps 1-4, you can be much more purposeful with your meal planning, which will help you achieve better results. When you have an intimate knowledge of your personal nutritional needs, you’ll be able to meal plan in a meaningful way.
In general, I feel that people don’t meal plan and prep enough. Maybe we are too afraid to admit that we don’t really know what is in our food anymore. With endless options, it takes a real effort to control our food instead of letting food control us. I know there’s little time to devote to this, but I also know you can do it. If the number on the scale has gone up recently and you don’t really know why, start by admitting it is time to get real with food.
Chris Clark is Profile by Sanford’s Learning and Development Manager, which means he makes a real difference in our mission to Change Lives, One Relationship at a Time. Check out the last installment of his Real or Not Real series where Chris shares his take on the word 'Just' and how empowering it can be to remove it from your vocabulary.