I Don’t Write Meal Plans. Here’s Why.

I have written two meal plans in my 5 years as a dietitian (excluding hospital menus, of course). I wrote the first one because I thought it was a good way to expand what I was able to offer, and help people in a different way. The second one was more of a diet template, written for a friend. Based on my experience with the first one, I decided this was not something I wanted to offer. Why?

For starters, it’s a lot of work if done right. There are numerous factors that determine the best diet for someone to follow, including:

  • Past medical history
  • Current lifestyle
  • Client goals
  • Diet history
  • Fitness capabilities
  • Dietary preferences

When creating a meal plan for 30 – 90 days (the length of time I usually see them offered), you need to make sure they are meeting their calorie goals, getting all the right micronutrients, eating foods they like at times convenient to their lifestyle, all while making sure there is flexibility because life happens. I wrote a draft of one month of programming for CrossFit Boston, and that was a walk in the park compared to writing a 30 day meal plan. I spent about 10 hours doing this, which makes it either expensive for the client or not that profitable for me. The best way to make money off of a meal plan is to create something completely generic at a couple of different calorie levels and sell it to as many buyers as possible.

Second, buying a meal plan is like paying the smart kid in class to do your homework for you. Continue reading I Don’t Write Meal Plans. Here’s Why.

Can “Paleo” and “Plant Based” Diets Live In Harmony?

Confession: a few years ago, I jumped on the paleo bandwagon. During that time, I used to bristle at the advent of plant based diets and things like “Meatless Monday,” mainly because they became so conflated with the vegan diet. I felt tired of people pushing the no meat thing, annoyed that vegetarian diets are always deemed healthier despite the fact studies supporting this diet are essentially comparing a group who has made a conscious decision about their health to “everyone else” – a wider group of many who haven’t. I was (and still am) also concerned that many people do it wrong, substituting meat with things like pasta, rice, and bread. And THAT IS NOT HEALTHIER, I ranted.

The Plant Based Diet 

Given that I’ve just written much of the above paragraph in the past tense, most of you have correctly guessed that my attitude has changed. The more I look at my own diet, at the paleo diet, and at research, the more I’m convinced that plant based diet IS the way to go. The key question here is what is a “plant based” diet? Based on a Google search, “plant based diet” is poorly defined (kind of like “fitness” before CrossFit). So, I’m making one up. According to the dictionary of Alexandra Black MPH, RD, LD, a plant based diet is:

A diet in which plant are the foundation of the diet. This diet consists primarily of non-animal nutrient sources. This includes vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and grains, although some animal foods – meat, eggs, dairy – can be included from time to time. 

Of course, as with any diet, there are healthy and not-so-healthy plant based diets. Eggo waffles with Aunt Jemima syrup for breakfast, vegetable pizza for lunch, and a rice and beans Lean Cuisine for dinner is plant based, but not so healthy. Whereas a banana with peanut (or almond) butter for breakfast, vegetable stir fry with quinoa for lunch, and grilled chicken with vegetables and baked sweet potato for dinner is much healthier (and still plant based). Continue reading Can “Paleo” and “Plant Based” Diets Live In Harmony?

Are You Bonking During Workouts?

Why Do We Bonk?

Bonking generally results from not having enough energy to finish your workout (or feeling that way). When you are eating your “standard” non-challenge diet, you’re likely eating some grains, potatoes, etc. Your carb intake is definitely higher than it is when you’re in challenge mode unless you eat a lot of bananas and sweet potatoes. Your body is used to working out at that higher carb intake, and can take a while to adjust. And when you start a paleo or clean eating challenge, your diet usually ends up being low carb (at least at first) even if you don’t mean it to be. The change can be especially drastic coming off of holiday food and cookies. Your body will adapt to the lower carb intake over the next few weeks as the sugar withdrawals subside and blood sugar levels normalize. But still, keeping up a consistent carbohydrate intake is important if you want to get the most out of your workouts. I’m not saying you need to eat 60% of your calories in carbs, I”m just saying you need to get enough for YOU to feel good during workouts and have energy throughout the day.  Continue reading Are You Bonking During Workouts?