Why I Stopped Creating Meal Plans


Way back in the day in nutrition school, we were taught to create meal plans for clients. We were taught to teach clients how to meticulously ‘balance’ their plates, count calories or carbs if needed, and give them a plan for how and what to eat. We expected them to follow that plan to a tee, because well, we gave it to them, and if they didn’t ‘gently guide them’ in their shortcomings so they would ‘better comply’ next time around.


So I did just that. With a background in exercise nutrition and weight loss I spent many years promoting different types of meal plans and creating them for my clients. I spent hours calculating macros and creating meals based on those parameters, making sure to stick within the perfect combination of protein-carbs-fat with each and every meal. No packaged foods were allowed. No shortcuts to make creating these meals easier- and no fun, because most of the meals were made up of components (chicken-broccoli-rice) rather than meals that were satisfying as well as nourishing. The clients that complied? Well, they saw results-- at least in the short term. But again and again I would have clients come to me months down the line, after ‘succeeding’ with the weight loss plan I’d given them, defeated that they’d gained all the weight back and sometimes more, and, being the empathetic nutritionist I am I’d assure them these things happen and I’d help them get ‘back on track’. Meanwhile, I’d feel like I did something wrong, I failed them, despite my meal plan ‘working’, they were angry at themselves-- not me, for failing. I never once thought it wasn’t at all them (after all, THEY were the ones who didn’t keep the weight off) or me (my meal plan ‘worked’-- for a time), it was the fact that the ‘healthy balanced plan’ I was offering wasn’t a plan-- it was a DIET.


I never once thought it wasn’t at all them (after all, THEY were the ones who didn’t keep the weight off) or me (my meal plan ‘worked’-- for a time), it was the fact that the ‘healthy balanced plan’ I was offering wasn’t a plan-- it was a DIET.

I’m not proud of this, friends. Once I started shifting to a more intuitive eating focus, I continued to try and offer meal plans, leaving out portion sizes so they could figure it out themselves-- but without the framework of intuitive eating in place, my clients and the mamas in my community were just as confused as they were before. They didn’t know how to listen to their bodies, especially if they’d been on diets for years, they’d end up under eating the meals I recommended, and overeating later on-- or overshooting entirely, not knowing what fullness meant to them if they had gone off of a ‘you stop when the meal is gone’ mentality after following a plan for so long. Meal plans are appropriate, in some cases, as in the case of eating disorder recovery or high level athletic performance- and in these cases you’d need to be working with a registered dietitian who is trained in creating meal plans for these special circumstances (I am not).


But for the every mom? What pre-made meal plans do is often one (or both) of two things: 1. Create obsession over complying to the meal plan perfectly which either results in a more obsessive mindset around food and complete sense of loss when without a meal plan and/or giving up entirely, therefore creating the ‘what the heck’ effect where they eat all the things, regardless of how they feel. Sometimes it’s both!


2. Creates loss of touch with the body’s true signals regarding hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. Following a plan takes our body’s innate wisdom out of the equation and makes us feel like someone else knows our body better than we do- and when we go off the meal plan, we don’t know where to start, or when to stop eating. And I get that it FEELS easier to have someone else create a plan for you and just go off of it. It makes you feel like you’re in control. “If I just follow this meal plan, I’ll be healthy.”

“If I just follow it to a tee, I’ll lose weight” “If I stick with the meal plan, I’ll spend less time thinking about food”.


Unfortunately, most of the time, NONE of the above ideas are true.


Meal plans do put you in control-- of your meals, not what your body needs.


Meal plans do put you in control-- of your meals, not what your body needs.

Meal plans do sometimes result in weight loss. But it doesn’t stick if you don’t have the skills to listen to your body AFTER the plan is over (if you’ve been on a meal plan, I can assure you you’re out of touch with your body).

Meal plans often result in thinking about food MORE, based on what is next on the meal plan, how to shop for what is on the meal plan, and how to cook what’s on the meal plan.


Meal plans don’t take into consideration YOUR family, YOUR life, YOUR budget or YOUR needs-- even if a nutritionist is creating them especially for you. No one knows your body, your family or your budget better than you, which is why I shifted away from creating plans that cause defeat and disruption to tuning into your body, and instead vowed to empower women to create their OWN plans-- not with rigid rules or strict portions, but plans that help them TRULY create a healthier life.


Meal PLANNING does something different. Meal PLANNING puts meals in your own hands. It teaches you to choose the meals that your family likes, AND feel good. Meal planning SIMPLIFIES your mama life. When you know what you’re going to have for dinner (or at least have a few options on hand), it takes the stress out of dinnertime. Meal planning allows for further EASE by meal prepping. If you know what you’re going to have, you can shop for only what you need and do some simple prep for the busiest days and times of the day.



Meal planning ENCOURAGES healthier eating by ensuring you have healthy food on hand and options for a variety of meals depending on what both schedule and desire allows. It makes it easier to grab-and-cook rather than call for takeout.


Meal planning allows for CHOICE when it comes to what sounds good to you, allowing you to listen to your hunger cues and portion food according to what feels good in your body and choose what is actually SATISFYING. It puts you more in touch with what your body and your family need.


Meal planning allows for CHOICE when it comes to what sounds good to you, allowing you to listen to your hunger cues and portion food according to what feels good in your body and choose what is actually SATISFYING. It puts you more in touch with what your body and your family need.

Meal planning gives you the POWER to create a healthier life for your family- without relying on what someone else thinks will work for you. And it’s simpler than you might think! Listen to this week’s podcast for more on meal planning + intuitive eating. Want to dig into meal planning, full force? Grab my Healthy Mama Meal Planner-- part meal planner, part guide, it will help you learn to meal plan for a simpler, healthier mama life.


Join me for my FREE You ARE a Supermama mini course for worn out moms who want to live a healthier, more energized mama life but have no idea where to start. The mission starts on April 1st.




  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • iTunes
  • YouTube
3.png
HBMPODCAST_S2.png
2.png
4.png
  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey YouTube Icon
  • Grey Pinterest Icon

Heading 1

© 2020 Kristin Rugg Dovbniak for Healthy Mama Kris. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use

Headshots Marie Guagliardo Photography & Sarah Zollo Portraits