There is no doubt in my mind that one of the most critical components to a healthy lifestyle and diet is nutritional variety. For example, the people of Okinawa, Japan are some of the longest living people on the planet. They have the greatest proportion of centenarians in the world (People that live to 100 years old.) They also happen to have one of the highest food varieties of any culture in the world. So it is safe to say that a great percentage of their health comes from diet. Can you eat your way to a century?
In contrast, there are health professionals today that coach and help people around the world to be this healthy but go about it in a different way. They will claim to be all about health, but you have to cut out gluten, dairy, red meat, “processed” foods, fruits, legumes, starches and whole eggs, only to end up with the shortest list of foods you could imagine. The diets that are being prescribed will unlikely meet your micronutrient needs. Not only that but following rigid diets result in the self-fulfilling prophecy of you being unable to digest foods on their clean list without terrible discomfort due to the loss of enzymes and gut bacteria that are essential to the digestion of a variety of foods.
So how do you combat this? Finding a balance, trying new things, learning more about food, and understanding what works for you. This is why we use a very simple meal plan approach on WebFit. Below are 5 reasons why we implemented meal plans within the app to help you reach your goals.
- Teaches Behavioral Factors For Continued Success Meal plans provide a framework sort of like having a calendar does in planning your day. If you are someone who used to under eat and not consume enough calories, having a meal plan will reinforce the daily thoughts necessary for you to consume more calories and hit your macronutrient goals. If you are someone who forgets to eat and overeats later in the day, having a meal plan will help remind you to have better proportions throughout the day to avoid energy slumps and binging late in the day.
- Controlling The “Hell With It Effect” Have you ever been on a restricted diet and someone offered you something that you have not had in a long time and you ate it? When you eat a highly-palatable but self-restricted food when you are ‘not supposed to’ then the “Hell With It Effect” kicks right in. This often leads to you just eating whatever for the remainder of the day and telling yourself that you will start fresh tomorrow or on Monday. Dieting or restrained eating generally increase the likelihood of food craving. Having a meal plan can combat this by giving you options with foods that you enjoy eating and meal options that you can move around to meet a specific craving you may be having.
- Less Time Consuming & More Economic Having a meal plan can allow you to meet budgetary needs for the household. Food is often a major expense to everyone’s budget. Having a plan with specific foods, portions, and amounts can help you not waste food and have a better idea of what you will be spending week to week. Meal planning can also help conserve time during the busy week and allow you to have more free time to spend with your family, friends and loved ones. Typically meal plans can be prepared before the week gets away from you. Your food and raw ingredients can be gathered at the grocery store, and cooked all in few hours. This type of preparation will free up time during your busy week so you can spend less time thinking about what fast food place to go to and spend more time on hobbies, exercise, spending time with loved one’s or relaxing from a busy day.
- Better Performance and Energy Are you waking up drowsy? Needing coffee daily just to get you going? Hitting a mid-day slump where you feel like you need a nap? All of these things can be tied back to what are you eating. A meal plan that has a variety of foods can help give you good fuel for your day and eventually lead to better performance in and out of the gym.
- Consistent Weigh Ins Bodyweight is one of the most important variables you can track to gauge if you are actually getting to your goal. It is totally normal for your bodyweight to fluctuate by 1-2% on a daily basis due to shifts in water (sometimes more for some people). This is caused by day to day fluctuations in food intake, sodium intake, alcohol, and stress hormones or from hormonal shifts during certain phases of a menstrual cycle. When you are consuming different calorie ranges day to day your bodyweight can be affected drastically. A meal plan can help you get a little hold on having a really huge fluctuation in bodyweight.
Meal plans can be really beneficial in helping you find a balance with food variety which is why we incorporate them in WebFit plans.