An Unpopular Opinion: I'm A Meal Prep Skeptic

Im-A-Meal-Prep-Skeptic-Croissant-Coffee-Rooftop-ACE-Hotel-Los-Angeles-Square.jpg

When I first heard of the meal prep trend I thought, This is too good to be true. People are telling me I can plan all my meals ahead of time, and it will be easy, fast, and healthy? No way in hell. Can you tell I’m a skeptic?

My distrust of the meal prep practice grew when I did an elimination diet. An elimination diet is a process of cutting out specific foods from your diet. These foods are "high risk" and commonly cause allergies or intolerances. For a given amount of time, you don't consume ANY of the "high risk" foods. Then you reintroduce "high risk" foods into the diet gradually, usually one at a time. For example, most elimination diets will cut out all dairy. So you don't eat dairy for about three weeks. When you reintroduce dairy into your diet, a lactose intolerance becomes very obvious. You'll know because your body will produce a rapid negative reaction as soon as you eat it!

The elimination diet was useful beyond words - without having done it, I would never know about my gluten intolerance. But making homemade meals with specific guidelines for thirty days was hard! It took A LOT of time and energy to buy the specific food and cook everything from scratch. By the end, I was grateful to know my food intolerances, but I was also exhausted. The diet book even wanted participants to continue the strict regimen longer. I could not fathom living that way every day.

I'm not against the idea of eating clean or preparing meals. But I could not see a livable, long-term solution to the strict meal plans I saw in books and online.

So I decided to honor the most important cues my body taught me during the elimination diet: avoid gluten, heavily processed foods, artificially sweet foods, and greasy foods. I began to feel better about the meal planning process. These changes made a difference in how I felt and were livable most of the time. I learned that what I really needed was sufficient time to make the changes and to practice the new habits. I also needed time to feel how my body responded to the meal planning changes.

And there are days that I feel like “cheating” on my personal plan. Sometimes I do. But those days are becoming fewer and farther between. Each time I allow gluten, lots of sugar, and processed foods into my diet, I regret it. My body has become such a well-oiled machine, it sputters and shakes when I put the bad stuff in. Headaches, stomach aches, low energy, foul moods. Trying my best but being imperfect has actually been the healthiest choice. Because I truly feel better on the healthy stuff, I can successfully avoid the unhealthy stuff.

And the process is never-ending. Two years ago I ventured into a gluten-free diet. Today, I’m exploring new diet choices that agree with both my body and the environment. Truly, I feel so much better when I don’t eat red meat or poultry. For me, this is still a process as I explore greater intake of unprocessed and plant-based food items.

To this day I remain a skeptic about specific diets and meal plans that claim to be the end-all, be-all of nutrition. Any diet program that claims to be a cure-all cares more about sales than about individuals with specific health problems. Listening to my body and making gradual changes has proven much more sustainable and much more successful.

 

21 Day Meal Habit Challenge Post2.png

Want to get inspired?

Start the 21 Day Meal Habit Challenge & receive the bonus meal prep self-assessment.