The Importance of Individualized Meal Plans

One of the first questions I get asked when people find out that I am a dietitian is, ‘can you give me a meal plan?’ This might seem like a simple question, but to me it is anything but. Just because someone is supposed to eat 1400, 1600, 1800 or 2200 calories per day does not mean a generic meal plan will work for them. Have you ever tried this? Maybe you found a meal plan on the internet. How long did you follow it? Did you like what you were eating? Did you feel like you were cooking all the time? Did you eat the same thing every day or for every meal?

One of the services we offer at Revive is a 7-day meal plan with recipes and a grocery list, however, it also comes with a 1 hour menu planning session because learning 20 or more new recipes in one week is unrealistic, overwhelming, and limited (what do you eat next week?) Instead, I provide the 7-day menu for my clients, and then show them how to make it work for their life. That is the basis of our Menu Planning Package – to give our clients the skills to create their own menu plans based on their individual needs while improving their relationship with food, and confidence in trying new foods and cooking.

I feel that individualized meal patterns are key to helping individuals meet their health and performance goals. When we improve our diet, we feel better, we improve our body composition, and we improve our lives. Meal plans are not just about getting a client to a certain weight, they are about creating a pattern of eating that works for our client and only that client. It reduces stress, saves money and gives you more time to do the things you love.

Below are 7 reasons why individuation is so important:

  1. Goals: we make the meal plan specific for individual goals (improving health, weight loss, weight gain, increasing strength, prenatal, vegetarian, vegan etc.)
  2. Lifestyle: we make it work for your daily routine taking into consideration work, family, training, and travel schedule
  3. Meal timing: we figure out the time of day a client needs to have each meal and snack to maintain energy levels, minimize cravings, and help clients stay in control of their food choices. For instance, clients who are up early for work often do better having a morning snack at 6 AM followed by a balanced breakfast at 9 AM while at work, versus trying to have a big meal at 5:30 AM before leaving for work.
  4. It’s specific: we can include a client’s likes and dislikes, favorite meals and snacks, and dietary restrictions. For instance, I have had clients who are mostly vegan, but enjoy fish twice a week for the health benefits.
  5. It gives you something to follow: it helps to map out a daily routine based on your schedule, which improves your food choices, and minimizes cravings. It allows your food choices to be a choice and not a compulsion.
  6. Accountability: we keep you accountable to your goals, support you, cheer you on, help you learn from setbacks, and explain what you need to do move forward.
  7. Confidence: We teach you how to use your meal pattern for your life, when you are eating out, and while on vacation.

The success of a meal plan doesn’t come just by following it. It comes from learning what things pull you away from it, and how to get back on track. It’s about collecting data on yourself to identify what daily steps make you feel like the best version of yourself.