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.

The Other Side of Weight: How To Gain It

I started out writing about good calories vs. bad calories, until realizing that most of my blogs over the past year have had at least a little to do with weight loss. In the US, we’re so used to focusing on obesity and weight we sometimes forget there are other things to write about when it comes to nutrition and health. But I don’t want to be part of that problem, mainly because sometimes I’d like to read a Women’s Health article without having to select between “I’d like a FREE 20 week weight loss plan” and “I already have a bikini body”.  So, this time I’m going a different direction, and addressing a question I’ve gotten from a couple of people: how to gain weight. Below are a couple of simple tips for gaining weight healthfully.

1. Add some fat (the good kind).

Fat is the most dense macronutrient at 9 calories per gram. Of course, fat is more filling, so too much of it can be counter productive. Still, try to up your fat content where you can. Whole or 2% instead of skim milk (organic/grass-fed, of course), nuts, nut butters, a little extra olive soil, avocados, some salmon, etc. The salmon (and other omega-3’s) have the added bonus of helping to counteract some of the inflammation from training.  Continue reading The Other Side of Weight: How To Gain It

Should You Try Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) has emerged as one of the many trendy diet options these days. Basically, “intermittent fasting” is the practice of periodically alternating between fasting – drinking just water and perhaps low calorie drinks like coffee – and non-fasting, i.e. eating normally.

Fasting Plans 

IF comes in a variety of plans and structures. The most popular of these are:

Empty Dishes

Periodic Fasting – eat normally for 5 days of the week. For 2 non-consecutive days, reduce calorie intake, usually to 500-600 calories. You can spread out the calories into smaller snacks or eat one meal after 24 hours of fasting (so, say you started at 7 pm the night before, you could eat 500-600 calories at 7 pm the next day).

Restricted Eating Period – eat normally, but only for a set window during the day. Most people using this plan eat during an 8 hour window starting around 10 am – 12 pm and lasting until 6 – 8 pm. This essentially equates to skipping breakfast and making lunch your first meal. Continue reading Should You Try Fasting?