woman sitting in front of macbook

Employee Stress: How You Can Help During the Holidays

Discussions about employee stress often focus on what the individual can do to help themself, but have you thought about how you can help your employees manage their holiday stress?

Chronically high stress is a key ingredient in the recipe for burnout. As such, it’s important for managers to recognize the signs and the areas where there is the possibility for them to contribute to or subtract from that stress. 

Here are some simple, yet powerful ways you can start doing that.

Assisting with Employee Stress Management

  • Check in with employees regularly. You should have a good idea of their workload and their stress levels. Check in with them to see how they’re doing and look for nonverbal cues.
  • Redistribute tasks as necessary. Following from tip # 1, if workloads are too heavy for some, redistribute as is appropriate and doable. Also, help employees prioritize. Some things may need to be back-burned for the time-being and you need to communicate that it is OK when that happens.
  • Infuse some fun into the season. I don’t mean the obligatory office “fun” folks roll their eyes at. Seek out the activities and events employees actually enjoy and host those, whether it’s a Secret Snowflake gift exchange, a surprise lunch on the company dime, or in-office chair massage. 
  • Foster an environment that prioritizes mental health. Encourage employees to take their lunch break. Don’t “ding” employees for using PTO. Ask them about how they’re doing and show genuine interest in their responses. Remind them of the resources they have available to support them, such as EAPs. And model work-life balance to them through your own actions and choices.
  • Give staff some liberty in how they work. Gone are the days when seats had to be kept warm until 5 pm. Employees want flexibility and trust and they aren’t tolerating micromanaging. It’s important for management to be open to different ways of achieving the same goals and tasks. Being able to work from home and get the work done when it works best for them can go a really long way towards keeping stress at bay.

As I’ve said before, employee burnout doesn’t happen in a vacuum and it’s critical for management to step in to avoid it as well.

person in brown long sleeve shirt holding black handled scissors

Managing Holiday Stress

Managing daily stress presents its own challenges, but coupling that with holiday stress can be overwhelming. Stress management is critical for our health as uncontrolled stress has been linked to health conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, depression and anxiety, and even diabetes. All of this is thanks to a little hormone called cortisol. While an integral part of our stress response, cortisol also plays important roles in a number of other body processes. Thus, when chronic stress raises our cortisol levels for long periods, other processes suffer as well.

How to Manage Holiday Stress

When strategizing about how to manage your stress, remember that there are 2 parts to it:

  1. Limiting how much stress you experience
  2. Mitigating the effects of the stress you can’t eliminate

So, let’s talk about how to manage your holiday stress through these lenses.

Limiting How Much Stress You Experience

  • Cut out the non-essentials. This time of year, we tend to heap a bunch of extras onto our to-do lists. And a lot of those things we don’t have to do and we don’t want to do. Take a good look at your calendar and to-do list and ask yourself why those items are on there. If they aren’t essential, cut yourself some slack and let them go.
  • Enforce your boundaries. People pleasing is a major cause of stress and having strong boundaries is the antidote. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to the things you don’t have to take on that will cause you more stress.
  • Plan ahead. Nothing worsens a stressful situation like feeling completely out of control of it. Look at the items you have control over and plan for them. Make lists, put it is a schedule, and avoid procrastinating so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

Mitigating the Effects of Stress

  • Get sufficient sleep. We need sleep in order to recover and for our hormone levels to balance out. Do what you can to ensure you get your 7-9 hours each night. This could include: making sure your bedroom is a cool, dark, and restful space; having a bedtime routine; and stopping screen time 1-2 hours before bed.
  • Make time for you. Self-care is the way we recharge. Making even just a little time to do something that you enjoy every day can go a long way for mitigating stress. Going for a walk, making a craft, journaling are all types of self-care. Really, the only requirements are that, 1. you enjoy it, and 2. it’s not another to-do list item.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy the season. At the end of the day, the whole point in this holiday season craziness is that we have fun and enjoy time with those we love. So make sure to squeeze that in.
baguette bakery blur bread

Why Low-Carb Diets Don’t Work

  • Low carb diets don’t work for effective, lasting weight loss
  • They come with several side effects

The 80s-90s had the low-fat craze and the 2000s have the low-carb craze. Proponents of low-carb and ketogenic diets proclaim their remarkable ability to help you lose weight fast, but, when really looked at, those claims simply don’t hold water.

About Low-Carb Diets

There have been a number of iterations on low-carb diets over the years – from the Atkins Diet to South Beach to the latest craze, ketogenic diets. The basic premise of them is that consuming carbohydrates makes you gain weight and so, if you cut down on carbs, you’ll lose weight. These diets range in their approach from only making certain “types” of carbs off-limits to limiting your overall carb intake in order to achieve ketosis, a state in which your body relies on fat for energy rather than glucose.

The Problems with Low-Carb Diets

How Low-Carb Weight Loss Works

Nearly everyone who has done a low-carb diet says: 1. they plateaued at a certain point and couldn’t get the scale to budge from there, and 2. once they started eating carbs again they gained all their weight back and then some.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like an effective diet to me.

In fact, numerous scientific studies have shown that low-carb and ketogenic diets are no more effective at creating weight loss than any other diet out there. In other words, just like any other diet on the market, it works for a short time but then, inevitably, you will regain the weight you lost.

So why is this?

One of the things that people love about low-carb diets is that they see a big drop in their weight very quickly. To understand why that is, we need a little science lesson.

Glucose is our body’s preferred energy source. When we eat, our body breaks down our food into smaller chemical units, including glucose. Of that glucose, what we immediately need gets used for energy and what we don’t need immediately, gets stored in our body for later in the form of glycogen. Here’s the clincher: for every gram of glycogen stored in our body, 3-4 grams of water is stored with it.

And so, when we restrict or eliminate carbs, our bodies burn through our glycogen stores, releasing that water which then passes out of our body. What does this mean? That exciting weight loss that happens when you start a low-carb diet is just water weight. Hence weight loss quickly slows down on low-carb diets and you will regain weight as soon as you start eating carbs again. This also contributes to that plateau effect I mentioned earlier.

What about the rest of the weight loss?

After that initial drop in water weight, the rest of the weight loss from low carb diets comes from the same source as any other diet: calorie deficit. That’s right, carbs don’t make you gain weight.

By removing or restricting an entire macronutrient from your diet, you are consuming fewer calories without even thinking about it.

And it follows that, once you start to each carbs again, you will come out of that calorie deficit and regain the weight you lost. This also explains the plateauing that many low-carbers experience: our bodies adapt to calorie restriction by slowing down our metabolism. Calorie restriction to our bodies is famine and starvation, so they compensate to try to keep up alive by becoming more efficient with less fuel – as happens with any other low-calorie diet.

Sustainability

Think back to a time you wanted something and someone told you that you couldn’t have it. How did you react?

You wanted it even more, right?

That is how our bodies respond to restriction and deprivation as well. Remember that your body is designed to keep you alive. When you start restricting its energy source through calorie and carb restriction, it panics that it doesn’t have what it needs to keep you alive. And so it mobilizes every tactic it has to compel you to find and consume food. You think about food. You crave certain foods. Smelling food makes you salivate. Your stomach grumbles and aches. You find it harder and harder to resist.

And so we can only hold out on restrictive diets for so long. And then when we go back to our old eating habits. It’s just not effective strategy in the long-term.

Side Effects of Low Carb Diets

Many people don’t realize there are some unpleasant side effects that come with low-carb diets.

You may have heard of “keto fog” referring to a feeling of absentmindedness or difficulty focusing while on a low-carb diet. This occurs because glucose is your brain’s preferred fuel source and it does not burn fat for fuel efficiently. If you deprive your brain of its most efficient fuel, it’s not going to work as well.

Many low-carb dieters also report fatigue and crankiness. The former is also related to the lack of an efficient fuel source for your body. And the latter, well…have you ever had a carbohydrate? They’re delicious. I’d be cranky without them, too.

There are also concerns about the long-term health effects of low-carb and ketogenic diets.

The state of ketosis is, in fact, a survival mechanism to keep our vital processes going during periods of famine. The human body is not designed to exist in ketosis for any extended period of time. Thus, many health professionals are concerned about the long-term effects this may have on our health. This is a focus on ongoing study.

Finally, studies have shown a link between ketogenic diets and cardiovascular disease. Low carb diets’ focus on fat consumption runs contrary to decades of medical science demonstrating the adverse effects of high saturated fat consumption on our heart health. We simply don’t need all that much in our diet and should not consume high amounts of it.

What You Need to Know about Low Carb Diets

Long story short, low-carb diets are not effective means of lasting weight loss and come with a number of risks that don’t outweigh the benefits. They’re just another fad.

top view of a family praying before christmas dinner

Managing Diet Comments from Family

Family holiday dinners are coming up and for many of us that could mean difficult, hurtful, or triggering comments about diet and weight with relatives.

Just like everyone has an opinion about the weather, it seems like everyone has an opinion on diet and weight loss. Unfortunately, many people feel compelled to share those opinions without consent or thinking about how it could land for the person on the receiving end. I think we probably all have that one relative who holds nothing back.

Some things to keep in mind: what is on your plate is your business only and it doesn’t matter what or how much anyone else at the table is eating. Your needs are unique to you and you are the only one who can tune into them. So, as much as you’re able, allow any unwanted comments to slide away and try to focus on your hunger and satiety, your cravings, and your satisfaction and enjoyment.

But, how do we curtail these unwanted conversations? Whether it be a relative going on and on about their latest diet or a relative claiming to be concerned about your health and relating it to your weight, here are some ways you can respond and enforce your boundaries.

To the relative detailing everything about their latest diet:

  • I’m really glad that you’ve found something that works for you but would you mind if we changed the subject?
  • I’m finding this topic kind of triggering, can we talk about something else?
  • This is clearly something you’re very passionate about, but this might not be the best time to discuss it. 

To the relative commenting on your holiday dinner plate:

  • Excuse me, why is my plate so interesting to you? (OK that one is confrontational)
  • You have the food that works best for you on your plate and this is what works best for me. 
  • I know you think you’re being helpful, but you’re actually doing the opposite. I would appreciate it if you would direct your attention back to your own plate.
  • I’m so happy we could get together today, but I didn’t get together to discuss my eating habits. 
  • What I choose to eat today is my business. 

To the relative making comments about diet and weight loss:

  • I know you think you’re being helpful, but I’m finding your comments hurtful. 
  • I understand that you want to help, but I am not looking for your advice on this. 
  • I prefer to keep conversations about my health between me and my physician so I’d like to change the subject. 
  • I’m not looking for weight loss tips right now. 
  • This conversation is making me very uncomfortable. I’d like to talk about something else. 

As long as there are family gatherings, there will probably always be comments about diet. However, by setting good boundaries for yourself and protecting those boundaries, you can minimize those comments and their impact on you.

bowl with yummy colorful gummies on table

Losing Control around Halloween Candy

There is currently a video going around on social media showing a woman creating a cute Halloween candy display in a large glass bowl. But that’s not the part that has been raising eyebrows. At the end of the video, she nonchalantly sprays hair spray all over the candy and the caption reads “so you don’t eat all the candy.”

Responses have been mixed, with some commenting that it’s funny or even a good idea. Others have been commenting that there is something wrong if you are spraying toxic inedible chemicals on food to avoid eating it. Here is my take.

When I first saw this video, it immediately harkened back to a practice that some individuals with eating disorders resort to: they in some way “ruin” their food so they can’t continue to eat it. Indeed, when I was in the peak of my disordered eating habits in college, I would routinely dump a shaker of pepper onto what was left on my dinner plate so I wouldn’t eat it while waiting for my friends to finish up. This is a very problematic and disordered practice and the woman in this video is promoting it like it’s the next greatest idea. So that is issue #1.

This video also prompts the question: why are you feeling that out of control around Halloween candy? As an anti-diet nutrition coach, I can answer this one. Deprivation and restriction are the top causes of binging and overeating. In other words, the foods that you feel the least in control around are the foods you allow yourself to consume the least. You may also have thoughts about those foods along the lines of: “I can’t trust myself around that food,” “it’s my weakness,” “it’s my guilty pleasure,” or “I’m being bad when I eat that.” And if you believe these things, of course you’re going to avoid certain foods!

The urge to binge or overeat when we are around foods we seldom allow ourselves to consume is a normal human response to deprivation. It’s not always conscious, but it is both a mental and physical response. When we do engage in these behaviors, it’s referred to as “last supper eating” because we tend to consume a food as though it’s the last time we will have it. And, indeed, it can feel that way because we truly don’t know when we will allow ourselves to have it again.

So what is the antidote for this?

In order to break this cycle of restriction and overeating, we must put those “trigger foods” on the same level as every other food we eat. Take the novelty out of them. Take the guilt and shame out of them. We do this by giving ourselves unconditional permission to eat them.

This unconditional permission does a few things:

  1. It removes the novelty from them and with that novelty goes the allure.
  2. It provides the reassurance to us that we can have those foods whenever we want, so we don’t need to overindulge as though we won’t have them again.
  3. Even if you at first overindulge in these foods once you give yourself permission to eat them, it will eventually level out and they will just become “normal” foods once that initial excitement wears off.

So, if you thought spraying hair spray onto your Halloween candy to prevent yourself from eating it was an appealing strategy, it’s probably because you rarely allow yourself candy or sweets to begin with. You may want to consider making candy a more run-of-the-mill presence in your life and see how that changes your relationship with it. And, from a nutritional perspective, this coach can assure you that having some candy from time to time or even a small piece of candy every day is perfectly fine. There is room in every healthy diet for some fun foods. And, having those fun foods regularly, makes your healthy eating habits more sustainable in the long-term.

people woman relaxation laptop

Employee Burnout Doesn’t Happen in a Vacuum

Employee burnout is a hot topic right now, as it very well should be. A July 2021 survey by The Hartford found that 55% of US employees reported feeling always burned out while 16% said they often feel burned out. And study after study has shown that levels of burnout in the American workforce are all-time highs with no signs of dropping. We also know that burnout is one of the factors fueling our current Great Resignation in which employees are leaving their jobs in droves.

At this point in time, if you are an employer or manager who does not realize that employee burnout is a very real issue, something is wrong. Whether employee burnout is real isn’t the question. Rather, the question is: what do we do about it?

As a wellness provider and an employee wellness program provider, specifically, I can say with confidence that employee burnout does not happen in a vacuum. It’s not an isolated incident and it is not the sole responsibility of the employee. The employee does not choose to wallow in stress and burn out. Management plays a critical and massive role in both creating and preventing burnout. So a few webinars on self-care and stress management for employees simply will not cut it.

What Causes Employee Burnout?

A number of factors contribute to employee burnout, but at its most basic burnout occurs when the burden is too great and the outlets too little. Or, as Emily and Amelia Nagoski explained in their 2019 Book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Code, burnout occurs when we become stuck in between our stress response and stress resolution. Something must happen to break us out of that jail and resolve that stress response.

So what gets us stuck?

Causes of employee burnout often have little to do with the employees themselves:

  • Having too great a workload and/or too few resources to deal with it
  • High-conflict work environments/lack of community in the workplace
  • A lack of trust or recognition from supervisors
  • Ineffective or poor management
  • Unclear roles

These are issues that management is responsible for. These are not issues that employees can address or fix. And no amount of meditation or nature walks will remedy them.

Related to these contributors to burnout are factors such as:

  • lack of social support
  • lack of boundaries between work and home life, and
  • poor stress management

What Can Management Do?

Giving employees tools to manage their stress is important – I should know, since I provide those webinars. But it cannot end there. Management must demonstrate to their employees that they are supported and their well-being matters. In this day and age, if an employee doesn’t believe that to be the case, they are walking out the door.

It Starts with You

As a manager, you can model behavior to help mitigate burnout. For example, implement boundaries between work and home life for yourself and adhere to them. Don’t keep it a secret when you take a mental health day or do some type of self-care. Make sure your employees know that you do these things. This demonstrates that it is acceptable for them to do the same. Then, take it a step further and make expectations for employee availability explicit. If you don’t expect them to answer emails at 9 o’clock at night, tell them that…and make sure you’re not emailing them at 9 pm either. This creates a company culture in which caring for your well-being is not only accepted but expected.

But modeling these behaviors isn’t helpful if you aren’t creating an environment conducive to employees utilizing those behaviors as well. As a manager, you need to have open and honest conversations with your employees, even the quiet ones. You need to check in with the regularly. You should know what their workloads are like and whether they are properly resourced for them. You should how they’re feeling. And you MUST be able to offer flexibility to support them. That can mean redistributing the workload, sitting down with them to help them prioritize, reallocating resources to them, etc. It also means that you need to be aware if and when you needlessly contribute to that workload through unnecessary or drawn-out meetings, micromanaging, excessive email or phone communication, etc. And you must reel that in when it happens.

As a manager, it’s critical that you always have your finger on the pulse of your workforce so that you can see the early signs of burnout and take action to mitigate it as best as possible.

color colour fitness health

5 Tips to Help You Start Exercising

To start exercising regularly when you aren’t used to it can be a challenge. Where should I start? What should I do? What if I’m not motivated? Depending on the day of the week, there is a new headline out touting the superior benefits of one style of exercise over another. But here’s the thing, it’s not supposed to be that complicated. Very simply, our bodies are made to move. Here are a few tips to help you start exercising.

1. Start simply

Start by just trying to move more each day. Increasing your daily movement can boost your energy levels as well as your motivation and confidence. Plus, it’s good for you! This can look like choosing the stairs over the elevator or taking a short walk on your lunch break. While fitness trackers can be problematic if you live and die by them, aiming for that 10,000 steps per day, can be a simple way to make sure you’re moving more.

2. Go with what you like

What happens if you try to force yourself to do something you hate? Chances are you will find every excuse in the book not to do that thing. One of the best ways to ensure your success when you start exercising is to start with something you think or know you will enjoy. For example, if you know you like to dance, try a Zumba class or barre. If you know you hate cardio, start with strength training. If you like it, you are more likely to do it.

3. Don’t rely on motivation to start exercising

woman stretching on ground
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

One of the most common pitfalls I see is when folks assume that motivation is a force that just materializes out of nowhere or it doesn’t. Waiting for motivation to spontaneously strike is a recipe for failure because it just doesn’t work that way. Very often, a little bit of action must precede motivation. For example, have you ever noticed how sometimes getting yourself to the gym is the hardest part but then once you’re there and moving, you’re fine? That’s a great example of how pushing yourself through a little action (getting yourself to the gym and starting) helps create motivation to continue. Not sure if you’re up for a run? Trying lacing up those sneakers and walking for a bit. Not feeling the idea of lifting today? Try doing some stretches or yoga first.

4. Accountability

Peer pressure can be a very effective tool! Well, maybe it’s not peer pressure. But having the accountability of a gym buddy or workout partner can be very helpful when you start exercising.

5. Don’t go crazy

The quickest way to sabotage your fitness goals is to do too much too soon. This could mean setting overly ambitious goals so that you become discouraged when you can’t meet them. Or it could look like pushing too hard and getting injured. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day and muscles aren’t either! Take your time, listen to your body, and go easy on yourself.

sliced green fruits

Wellness Industry Red Flags – Buzzwords to Watch For

It can be hard to tell what is a waste of money in the wellness industry, but there are certain red flag words you can watch out for to avoid getting scammed. You can find scams in pretty much any industry, but the wellness industry has the advantage of being able to use sciencey-sounding words to convince you a product or program is legitimate. That combined with capitalizing on people’s insecurities and health goals, creates some pretty tantalizing offers. Here are some common wellness industry red flags you can watch out for to clue you in that an offer is bogus.

Toxin/Toxin-Free

Toxins are a huge buzzword in the wellness industry, playing on our fears and the average person’s lack of knowledge about chemistry, biology, and manufacturing. The “natural is best” argument makes sense on its face, but just because something is manufactured or lab-made, doesn’t make it unsafe. The wellness industry would have you believe that we are constantly being bombarded with massive loads of chemicals that do everything from make us gain weight to cause infertility. But there is little to no scientific evidence behind those claims. These companies also neglect to mention that plenty of natural solutions can actually be toxic, so natural is not necessarily safer.

Bottom Line: You don’t have to pay $47 for a toxin-free shampoo and the claims these all-natural companies make are unfounded.

(if you want to learn more about chemicals, particularly in food products, check out @FoodScienceBabe)

Cleanse/Detox

Similar to “toxin,” marketing of cleanses and detox programs rely on consumer fear and distrust to convince us that we need these products to cleanse our bodies and optimize our health. But here’s the thing: our bodies are already equipped with a top-of-the-line detoxing system, our liver and kidneys. Our bodies simply don’t store up all of the toxins we’re exposed to and we don’t need any special products or programs to rid our bodies of them. Our bodies already do that.

Bottom Line: Save your money and skip the cleanses and detoxes.

Superfood

Repeat after me: there is no such thing as a superfood. “Superfood” is literally a made up marketing term designed to play up the supposed nutritional superiority of a food to sell more of it. Off the top of my head, blueberries, kale, acai, and cauliflower have each had their turn as superfood of the year. But the nutritional value of these fruits and veggies is no greater than any other produce. All fruits and veggies are good for you, but none of them are going to magically cure any ailments or upgrade your biomarkers overnight.

I see this term used most often to market over priced protein powders, mostly from MLM companies. They’re just another shake. There’s nothing super about them.

Bottom Line: Superfoods do not have super powers.

(For more reading on diet industry shenanigans, check out Food Isn’t Medicine by Dr. Joshua Wolrich)

Limited Time Only/Limited Edition Flavor

This is another one MLM companies LOVE to rely on. They fabricate a product shortage to create FOMO and convince you that you just have to seize this opportunity because you can’t live without X wellness product. This is a huge red flag that the product is not worth it. You shouldn’t have to fake a shortage to convince people to buy your product if it’s really a good product.

Bottom Line: Short of an actual prescription medication used to treat a specific condition, there is no wellness product you truly can’t live without.

Bonus Phrases!

Here are a couple bonus wellness industry red flags to clue you into possible scams.

Boosters

Anything that promises to boost your immune system or boost your metabolism, etc. is a scam. It’s just not a thing – 0 science behind this.

Spot Reducing Fat

Any product or program that promises you will lose weight (specifically fat) in a specific area is selling you on lies. You cannot spot reduce body fat – whether it’s with a supplement or doing those weird air humping videos on TikTok. If you want to reduce fat in your belly area, you have to reduce fat in your body overall. You can’t just target one area – that’s just not how our bodies work.

Rapid Weight Loss

Any product or program that promises you can lose a large amount of weight in a short period of time is a HUGE red flag. First, you can expect that any weight loss from such programs/products will not last. Secondly, they could be relying on unhealthy means to get you there. Third, the means they do use will without a doubt not be sustainable in the long term. A reasonable rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, for reference.

photo of people having dinner together

What to do when you overdo it

Feeling like you overate can be a really crummy feeling, but the tactics we tend to turn to in those instances typically aren’t helpful options. Skipping meals to compensate, overexercising, only eating certain foods – these tactics don’t work and promote unhealthy habits. Fact: you can’t “compensate” for overeating. So what should you do when this happens?

First, let go of trying to compensate for overeating. This simply is not how our bodies work. Your body has already digested and dealt with that food accordingly. It is not sitting in a reserve tank to be emptied and you can’t create a void in your body for that food to take up by creating a calorie deficit the next day. Furthermore, even if you do successfully undereat or overexercise the next day, your body will adjust for that accordingly. You may or may not notice it, but 2-3 days later you will be much hungrier than usual and eat more. Remember, our bodies evolved to keep us alive through periods of starvation. Finally, we don’t get to pick and choose what gets burned and what doesn’t.

Second, be realistic and take it easy on yourself. One day of overdoing it isn’t going to make a difference. One weekend of overdoing also probably won’t make a significant difference. You won’t gain 10 pounds overnight and you won’t “undo” any progress you’ve made. Something else to note, when I work with clients who feel like they went way overboard with their eating, very often when we actually map out what they ate, it’s not as much as they thought.

Third, still practice those healthy habits you’ve been working on. Remember, there is no proverbial wagon to fall off of, no proverbial train to derail. Every day is a new opportunity to pursue your goals and those 4 margaritas didn’t “ruin” that opportunity. So carry right on with eating in balance. Move your body. Drink plenty of water. Listen to your body.

If you want to avoid overdoing it the future, keep in mind the main reason why we engage in overeating is deprivation. When we don’t allow ourselves to eat certain things, when we dub certain foods “bad,” we give those foods all of our power. It’s human nature to respond to deprivation this way. The best way to make sure these overindulgence episodes happen rarely, is to give yourself permission to the eat the foods you want to eat when you want to eat them. Yes, absolutely, practice balance and make sure you’re also eating lots of veggies. But, chocolate cake doesn’t only have to happen on your birthday. Mashed potatoes and gravy don’t only have to happen on Thanksgiving. When we only let ourselves enjoy these foods once a year, that’s when we get into issues with last supper eating.

photo of people having dinner together
Trying to compensate for overeating is not the answer. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate

You don’t need a meal plan. Here’s Why

It may seem like it’s the solution you need, but a meal plan probably won’t be very helpful…not in the long-term anyway.

Here’s the thing about a meal plan: it tells you what to eat and when but what happens when you’re not longer on it? What if you can’t afford to continue having someone write them for you? Or your nutritionist moves on? Or whatever program you’re doing ends?

You will probably resume the same eating habits you were accustomed to previously. And that is not your fault.

You see, a meal plan is really no different than a diet in that it forces you to overhaul all of your eating habits at once without teaching you any skills or helping you gain insight into your eating habits. The result? It’s not sustainable.

So if you are hoping to change your eating habits in the long-term, a meal plan is not the answer. In fact, unless you’re just looking for someone to plan your menu for you because you’re tapped out in terms of energy, creativity, and brain power, I don’t recommend them.

So what is more effective? Work with someone who can:

  • teach you how to compose a balanced meal and how to snack to keep you energized throughout the day
  • coach you in setting reasonable meal planning and prep goals
  • help you develop the skills you need to meal plan effectively
  • coach you in working through obstacles that may disrupt your meal plan

The difference is that skills continue on. They’re translatable. Meal plans are a one-time fix. So you’ll get way more “bang for your buck,” so to speak, focusing on picking up skills and strategy rather than having it done for you.

So before you seek out meal planning services from someone, ask yourself what your goals are and what you are hoping to get out of it. If your goals are more focused on long-term eating habits, that meal plan probably isn’t the best solution.

If you’re interested in learning how to make healthy eating work in your busy life, give me a shout.