Will you write me a diet plan?

Today one of my clients came in and asked me a question i hear quite often in my job ‘will you write me a diet plan?’ I’m going to call her Jane which is going to make the whole article less rigid and easy to write.

Straightaway I answer ‘sure! why?’

Jane: ‘Because I want to lose weight and I need someone to tell me what to eat’

The problem

Now I’m happy to write a diet plan. I’m happy to do anything to help my clients.

The problem with diet plans that although they 100% work if they’re followed to the letter, for one reason or another it’s rarely the case. This can happen a lot even when you can see a client is truly ecstatic with what you’ve wrote for them. ‘OMG I didn’t realise I could eat that, this is so good!.

Theres a few reasons why, some more common than others.

What we did
A good diet plan takes a long time to write, maybe 4 hours so I want to understand why we’re doing it first to make sure it is the right solution.Rather than agreeing and bringing it to the next session I suggested we have a go together.

I asked Jane to start by drawing up a week grid and filling it in with any foods she could think of that she regularly made. It didn’t have to be healthy it just had to be food. This was the result.

Picture

Even with free control we struggled to fill in a complete week with different foods although it is normal to repeat a few. You might scoff but that’s pretty normal to see and Jane’s not a big girl.

Try the same exercise yourself and you might be surprised how quickly you get stuck. Remember, a different meal each day that you already cook.

Why we did it

Doing it this way we flagged up some of the real issues before we even started the meal plan.

– Jane rarely cooks for herself.
– In the last 3 weeks she’d cooked one evening meal herself which we was able to joke at. The rest had been cooked by friends, family, was a takeaway or they had gone out.
– She eats most her calories in the evening and rarely gets a breakfast.
– Lunch is mostly grab and go.
– She likes to go out for food.

As much as we laughed because we all know ‘that’s not what you should do’, it is what a lot of people do, it is very normal to see.

THE REAL ISSUE. 

The real issue emerges when we do a bit of maths:

– 3 (meals a day; Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.) x 7 (days in a week) = 21 meals to cook over a week.
– 3 (number of weeks since Jane cooked an evening meal) x 21 (number of meals in a week) = 43 meals.

To ask Jane to stick to any new meal plan we wrote would be asking her to jump from cooking 1 meal every 3 weeks to 43. That’s a big jump.

It’s a lot to ask. It’s an unrealistic target when you think of it like that, yet if I’d gave her a diet plan full of quick easy meals I cook it would seem perfectly reasonable to expect her to follow it.

Going down the rabbit hole, she would have failed and blamed herself. She could even have feel bad that I’d spent 4 hours writing the diet plan and felt uncomfortable coming to me to say she couldn’t do it. It would have done more damage than good.

Losing weight is journey, this exercise was a step. Trying to jump from A to Z is where people fail but as soon as you see the big picture and start going A, B, C you start to learn to take the steps quicker and if you trip you only go back one step rather than straight to the beginning.

The solution

Rather than writing a full meal plan we wrote 4 different options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast: Porridge, Weetabix, Scrambled eggs on Toast & Yoghurt
Lunch: Sandwich, Pasta salad,
Dinner: Stir fry, Wraps,

We didn’t get into carbs, fats, sugars, protein or calories. We didn’t get into portion sizes. We didn’t get into snacks. For her I felt that would be a lot to take on atop of suddenly cooking more whilst working long shifts and fitting in training

I did mention the benefit of batch cooking. Prepping a few meals at once and putting it in the fridge / freezer while she’s already cooking.

Even if those foods aren’t 100% perfect weight loss foods they aren’t the foods people get fat on either.

I don’t have a lot of people come in saying they ate too much weetabix or scrambled eggs before needing help. Bread and pasta might not have the best rep but it’s often the sugary drinks, alcohol, sweeties or packets of crisps that was coming in on the side that did the damage. When I was overweight it was definitely the cheesecake on a night and raiding the biscuit tin at my nans.

Theres a few things to take from this but to me the big one is fitness and cooking seem easy until it comes to actually doing it.

For Jane this is a great first step. Theres not a lot of pressure to be massively right but she’s building up the skills she needs to lose weight and keep it off for life. Once this becomes and habit, it’ll be easy for us to exchange recipe ideas and talk about the benefits of protein in the diet. Weight loss will happen. It will get faster and it will get easier.

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