Guilty... I' m a nutritionist who is partial to prescribing meal plans

Let me just say, I am talking about a meal plan that has the weighted amount of everything you should eat, the times at when you should consume these meals and then marketed as the answer to the worlds obesity epidemic. I have a few reasons why this sort of treatment really does not tickle my fancy

1. My experience in this industry has taught me that every single one of us is different, individual, sole trader, unique, one of a kind however you want to say it and that we benefit from being treated accordingly. And guess what, the research agrees!

In a bid to understand the complex nature of the world epidemic that is diabetes type II and metabolic disease, a recent study testing a large cohort of people on their blood sugar responses to identical meals found that there were huge differences in readings in all 800 of the individuals that took part in the study. This means that 2 humans that eat the exact same meal could have completely different bodily responses to that exact same food being consumed. These differences occurred due to an individual’s dietary habits, physical activity, anthropometrics and gut flora, which would you believe, are never the same from person to person. The paper concluded that universal dietary recommendations have limited effect and that short term personalised dietary interventions devised from each individuals profile as mentioned above successfully lowered post meal glucose levels compared to the one size fits all approach – This is seriously exciting stuff, even science suggests that before we go and counsel people on what to eat we would greatly benefit from getting a good understanding of how this person and their body operates as an individual.

2. It’s a breeding ground to developing an unhealthy relationship with food

Eating shouldn’t be complicated, rigid or be so inconvenient that it rules your life. Often when we are looking for an answer to our health and eating challenges we grab onto a way of eating as a safety blanket and we believe that if we step outside of this ‘meal plan’ we are forever doomed. Self-sabotaging thoughts of guilt, shame and worry arise and before you know it food has become a source of fear. This way of living is what is deemed as the diet mentality and is not something I want to promote as a nutritionist and have noticed meal plans can be a major contributor to this. It’s also something I have a soft spot for because I know all too well these sorts of feelings around food.

3. It creates a huge disconnect to our bodies

No one in the whole wide world will know your body as well as you do. So, continuing to follow a meal plan that your mate Charlie had great success with, even when you hate the food and it makes you feel worse is a huge disservice to your health and well-being. Putting the trust into an outside source like this is dangerous waters when fueling our bodies is always best approached from a place of deep knowing and understanding of what makes YOU feel good and what doesn’t. This is called body awareness and something that is a huge part of the way I practice because I want you to be able to navigate both food and life situations from a place of inner trust not external validation. A wise old saying comes to mind here “give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

So yes, I am a nutritionist who is more than qualified to provide meal plans yet doesn’t believe in them. Righto, so what will I actually do to support you on your health journey through food if I don’t have a handout that says eat like this for 8 weeks? To sum it up…

I believe that everyone is an individual, I promote body awareness and will educate you on what foods and things in life may be hindering your journey to well-being step by baby step, if we have to. I will teach you how to prepare foods and provide multiple suggestions on how to incorporate these things that work specifically for you into your life so that you aren’t just doing these things but learning them, and boom, before you know it health becomes a sustainable lifestyle.

If this resonates with you or someone you know and feel you need some guidance around nutrition and your well-being book a nutritional consultation to come see me at Embrace Life 3491 6533, I am adding to my yummy food ideas all the time.

Oh and for anyone further interested, below is the link for the study cited in the first point and for the not so science savvy a useful little YouTube clip summarising the research. Happy learning!

Full research text for the science savvy - www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(15)01481-6

Suggested watch for everyone interested - www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZWLy7FLvZ4