You’ve probably heard a time or two that “diets” don’t work. We don’t agree. Well… not entirely.
We use the word “diet” to simply mean “the way you eat”. In that sense, the word “diet” shouldn’t have any negative connotation to it. But it does, and that’s because typically the word is used to describe something that is extreme, unhealthy, and unsustainable. And in that case, we couldn’t agree more – those diets do not work!
But there’s another train of thought out there even amongst experts in nutrition. Some believe that even a healthy diet plan, one that is not extreme or crazy fad-like, may not be a good idea either. Whaaaat?! Many of my colleagues do not create meal plans for their clients. They feel that telling people what to eat is counterproductive to helping them be intuitive with food choices, that it may create a dependency on a structured plan, or perhaps the structure itself is not sustainable.
It might surprise you to hear (given that I develop meal plans) that I agree with them! … in part.
But… [big but] here’s the flip side. There are many ways in which I disagree, and why if you’re looking for a meal plan, I’m your gal.
Our Top 10 Benefits of a Structured Meal Plan:
(it was tough to narrow it down to just 10!)
1. GUESSWORK REMOVED
Having the structure of something on paper takes the guesswork out of things for you. You don’t have to stress over trying to make these big decisions for yourself at a time when you may not be equipped to do so. The nutrition world is a big one, and if left to your own devices can result in overwhelm and confusion.
2. PROVIDES A FRAMEWORK
A structured meal plan puts your nutritional recommendations into practice. It shows you what healthful eating actually looks like on your plate. Imagine going into a gym for the first time, the staff showing you a bunch of the machines and free weights that work the chest muscles and then telling you to go have a chest workout. Just like a personal trainer would create a workout template that would provide a safe and effective chest workout, as a nutritionist I do the same for you in a meal plan. As you become comfortable and informed, you can begin ad-libbing it and being more flexible in choosing how to best meet your nutritional needs.
3. NO NEED TO TRACK OR COUNT
When you follow a Mipstick meal plan precisely, you need not worry about whether or not you’re achieving the daily nutritional values to support your goals or needs. We’ve done all the math for you and carefully calculated your total daily calories and macronutrient ratios to best support your individual goal. So providing you follow the meal plan with the recommended serving sizes (yes, you’ll have to do some measuring at first), you know you’ll be achieving those numbers, without the time-consuming and tedious task of tracking and counting yourself. We learn by doing, and after a little while of measuring you start to get really good at eye-balling the serving sizes that’ll best support you.
4. BUILDS YOUR STRONG FOUNDATION
We learn by doing. Although some diet plans may have you counting points (that may not translate in the real world) or simply tell you what to eat with no explanation, at Mipstick we focus on education. Every meal plan comes with lessons built-in, teaching you the whys and hows behind the types, timing and amounts of foods recommended. This knowledge is what sets the stage for making healthful and goal-supporting eating a sustainable lifestyle.
5. OPTIMAL WELL-BEING
Often our cravings, increased (or decreased) hunger, low moods, poor sleep, etc are the manifestation of imbalances in the body. Until those are restored, it’s tough to fight the cravings or to make wise food choices consistently. The structure of a meal plan improves compliance to your diet to get you through that hump until you no longer have to battle those imbalances or rely solely on willpower alone.
6. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Ok so we don’t really like the word perfect, but you get the drift. Being informed and making smart diet choices is a skill that is learned, just like playing guitar, swimming or study habits. The more you practice, the easier the skill becomes. A structured meal plan is what helps you practice healthy eating and portion control.
7. INTENTION SUPPORTS INTUITION
“Just eat intuitively”… if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that in my industry! If your intuition was giving you sound messages right now, you wouldn’t be looking for nutritional support. Right now, your intuition (or your gut) could be telling you to grab a pizza on the way home most days of the week, or pour that second glass of wine most evenings (or third, no judgement here). That’s those imbalances mentioned above at work right there! Here’s the thing… my wish for you is to be able to eat intuitively most of the time throughout life. That’s the end goal for everyone, including the high level athlete who wants to eat within a specific macronutrient range.
Until we restore balance in the body, have a foundational base of knowledge upon which to draw from to make informed choices, and practice practice practice – intuitive eating doesn’t just happen. That’s why we recommend visiting intentional, structured dieting whenever you feel you’ve fallen off-track. It’s what helps you to move from intentional eating to a more integrative approach. You begin using the structured meal plan as more of base point, effortlessly making substitutions and being more flexible with meal ingredients. When you’ve got that mastered, that’s when the magic begins to happen and your intuition starts working for you! We outline these stages of dieting, from intentional to intuitive, here in our other blog.
8. LESS FOOD WASTE AND REDUCED GROCERY COSTS
Strictly following a meal plan means that you know in advance exactly how much of this or that ingredient you will need. Included in Mipstick’s meal plans are a required grocery list that details everything you’ll need for the upcoming week. You simply buy that amount when you go grocery shopping. No more food waste.
9. IMPROVED ABILITY TO CUSTOMIZE
If you are struggling to reach your wellness, weight loss goals, or performance goals, having followed a structured meal plan gives us the advantage of knowing exactly how you’ve fuelled your body to date. This gives us the ability to know what to adjust to improve your success. It’s more difficult to know what is and isn’t working when you don’t really know what you’ve been doing.
10. IMPROVED SUCCESS
Structure, expertise, reduced- stress, framework, education, accountability… the many different benefits of following a meal plan ultimately means improved success for you! Life is busy and complicated sometimes, and even the most knowledgable and conscientious eaters sometimes get off-track. Whether you’re new to the nutrition world or a seasoned athlete or foodie, a structured meal plan can help you get [back] on track.