Can I Eat Intuitively & Still Meal Plan?
There is a weird divide in the nutrition world right now. People seem to fall into 1 of 2 categories, as they either are all in for a meal plan, discipline and specific numbers, OR they are all about self-love, eating food you enjoy and breaking all the “food rules.” Guess what? You do not have to be a zealot of either and can still have great success (did you just read that in the Borat voice…? That’s how I typed it).
Wait… how can I love myself, curl up with nature in a meadow playing with a baby lamb if I’m not eating intuitively? Or on the flip side, how can I have a rock hard six pack, win every competition I ever enter and say “bro” every other word as I do copious curls?
Very rarely do people live on one side or the other and the athletes at PP are no different. We’ve had every athlete and client from every walk of life. We’ve had vegans who are extremely particular about how their food is sourced and where each bite comes from, and we’ve had meat lovers who only cared about eating more protein and having bigger arms. And you know what? We helped educate both of these clients on how to take both styles and meld them together for the best results.
When people think of meal prepping, they may imagine a small Tupperware filled with broccoli, white or brown rice and chicken. No sauce and no flavor because there isn’t enough room with all those GAINS. What meal prepping really should be is freedom and preparing for success.
How can intuitive eating be more successful with meal planning and prepping?
Time constraints are addressed
- No matter what your eating style, everyone has stressors and issues that arise which throw off their life and eating. A great way to minimize this scenario and reach your goals faster is to plan ahead. We’ve gone over this previously in our How to Meal Plan post. This will help you with your time constraints when you have them and allow you to do what you should be doing- enjoying life and spending time doing what you love with who you love! No need to count every carb in your planned meal, just eat foods you enjoy slowly until you are about 80% full and have things in balance.
Meal planning can and should have some flexibility to it
- Meal planning is often seen as the individual having to account for every single food they eat that day, but that doesn’t mean those foods can’t rotate based on what you WANT to eat. This is where other articles like How To Prep Snacks (INSERT LINK) is so important. When intuitively eating it isn’t about “good” foods or “bad” foods, but it is about foods you WANT to eat which will help to reach your goals. This means that having snacks, pre-planned meals, etc all in your fridge, office, bag/backpack and potentially car can make it much easier to eat the foods you like. No, you don’t have to just make rice and chicken and eat that for each meal, but having accessibility to your foods throughout the day allows you to eat and improve your relationship with food.
Prepping meals can AND SHOULD be foods you enjoy –
- Read the above point again. You can’t eat food that you don’t have access to. This just means you need to have these healthy foods nearby. When planning out your day or week just make sure you have a balance of foods around you that you enjoy and will help you with your goals.
Many of the same rules still apply!
- The basics of intuitive eating are all great; honoring your hunger, making peace with food and honoring your health come to mind. This planning and prepping can simply be a few general snacks and meals you enjoy and then you can pick throughout the week as you see fit. At some point, no matter how intuitively you eat, you have to shop and bring home food. All you’re doing is taking these foods that honor your feelings and turning them into delicious meals you can eat when you get home tired from school or work.
The biggest thing we're doing here is working to make as many options available to honor a person's hunger and food choice as possible.
Some easy ways to prep multiple meals and foods are to do the following:
Make multiple bases at the same time
- Having multiple foods that make up the base of a recipe can be very easy to do and allow you to make completely different meals or snacks at the same time. A great example that one of our clients does with great success is they'll prepare black beans on the stove top to be the base of either a bowl or soup and at the same time will use their microwave rice steamer to have rice ready for multiple meals and finally at the same time will make a vegetable base in the crockpot. They don't use the same base for every meal, but now has 3 sets of foods that can be used as a part of their meal prep for the next week or so. Here is an example of a day's menu she made using that: Breakfast - 3 egg omelette with the vegetable base mixed into it, cooked with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and 2 pieces of toast. Lunch - 4oz chicken, 1/2 cup rice (cooked), 1 medium sliced avocado and 1 cup steamed broccoli from freezer bag. Dinner - 4 oz steak, 1/2 cup black beans, 1 cup steamed broccoli from freezer bag for lunch, topped with homemade salsa. As you can see, she used each piece of her prep in different meals and had multiple options all made at the same time with no real extra effort or time.
Utilize the crockpot while doing other food prep
- Most weekends when I meal prep, I am using the stove top, pots and pans and my grill all at the same time. This allows me to get as much food for my family as possible in the same amount of time. Another thing I'll add once my food is purchased that morning is throw together a crockpot meal. This gives us a ready dinner for that evening and allows us to better utilize that time making more food with minimal effort.
Choose 1 cooking method and cook multiple protein options at once
- It's very easy to decide to grill food and instead of only grilling one kind of meat or protein source, you can choose multiple and grill them all at once to be ready for different meals. One of my favorite things to do is to buy a pack of chicken, another of beef and finally one of turkey. I will marinate them in different flavors and then grill them all at once (I recommend you get a meat thermometer and know the proper safe cooking temps for each). This allows me to pick a different dinner each night and combine that with the bases, veggies and carbs I have already prepped to make different meals on the fly as needed. This is an effective method if you are doing weekend meal prep and are cooking in bulk
I hope this gave you some good insights and thoughts about how to better meal prep, save time and money while reaching your nutrition goals.