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Intuitive eating is a great way to have a positive relationship with food, but it can be challenging to put into practice in the beginning. Especially when it comes to meal planning. But don’t worry, I’m here to help! In this post, I’ll walk you through how to incorporate intuitive eating and meal planning and how to make it work for you.
Some people think that intuitive eating and meal planning are opposed to each other. I actually think they very well work together. When you plan meals in a way that allows for flexibility and takes your pleasure into account, meal planning can be a powerful tool in finding peace with food. So read on, and get ready to put intuitive meal planning into practice!
What are the basics of intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating is all about listening to your body and giving yourself permission to eat what you want, when you want it. It sounds simple enough, but in a world where we’re constantly bombarded with diet culture messages, it can be hard to break free from the “good vs. bad” mindset and truly trust our intuitive eating instincts.
Intuitive eating is a way of life that can help you to feel more confident in your food choices and improve your relationship with food. If you’re interested in intuitive eating, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
First, intuitive eating is not a diet; it’s about making peace with food and honoring your hunger cues. Second, intuitive eating is not about perfection; it’s about progress, and learning more about your own nourishment needs.
Lastly, intuitive eating is about learning to trust yourself and your body; it’s not about following rigid rules or denying yourself certain foods.
Why meal planning is not the same as a meal plan
It’s important to clarify that meal planning is NOT the same as a meal plan.
Meal planning is the process of deciding what you will eat in advance. This can be done for a single meal, or for an entire week. Meal planning can be a useful tool for anyone who wants to save time and money. It can also help you have satisfying meals planned ahead when you’re schedule is very busy.
When you meal plan, you can make sure that you have all the ingredients on hand that you need, and that you know exactly what you are going to make. This can help you to avoid last-minute trips to the grocery store, and to stick to your budget. Additionally, meal planning can help you to eat more satisfying meals, and can help you save money from takeout.
A meal plan is a diet that delineates what you can and cannot eat, most of the time with the purpose of losing weight. Within that plan, you would have a certain number of calories, grams of fat, protein, and carbs to eat. As you may already know, meal plans and dieting are restrictive and difficult to stick to long-term.
While a meal plan is usually steeped in diet culture and usually has the purpose of changing your body, meal planning can be an effective tool in your intuitive eating toolbox.
Tips for integrating Intuitive Eating and meal planning
Let’s take a look at some simple tips for meal planning while using an intuitive eating approach:
- Choose meals you actually like. The first thing you need to do when looking into how to meal plan with intuitive eating is to think about what foods you like. If you have been dieting for a while, you might not even know what foods you like. Try out different foods and see if you like them. Write them down any you’d like to include in your meal planning for the week.
- Start small by meal planning for one meal at a time. It doesn’t even have to be a complicated meal. One of my favorite meals is cooking frozen plant based meatballs into jarred spaghetti sauce and pouring it over cooked pasta. That’s it! Don’t get caught up in complicated recipes with 75 different spices.
- Try batch cooking. Batch cooking is when you make a large batch of one dish and then eat it for multiple meals. This is a great way to save time and money, because you’ll only have to do the work of cooking once but you’ll get multiple meals out of it. For example, you can batch cook ground beef and use it for tacos one day, spaghetti the next and chili on another day.
- Use one pot/pan meals or slow cooker meals These are re great for batch cooking. You can prep ahead for two days’ worth of dinner. That dramatically reduces the amount of cooking you have to do in a week.
- Make use of leftovers. From batch cooked meals or any other leftovers that you can use creatively in another meal. This works especially well for food like Rotisserie chicken or ground beef that you can easily incorporate into any meal.
- Invite flexibility. Buy flexible ingredients that can easily be thrown together into a variety of different meals. For example, the aforementioned Rotisserie chicken, frozen ravioli, bagged salads, frozen meatballs, even frozen pizza! These quick, no-brainer meal planning options can be real life savers during overly busy days.
- Create a capsule pantry. This is a collection of non-perishable food items that can be used to make quick and easy meals. A capsule pantry typically includes items such as pasta, rice, canned goods, and spices. Having everything you need in one place makes meal planning much easier. It also allows you to be more creative with your cooking, since you’re not limited by what you have on hand. And if you ever find yourself in a pinch, you’ll know that your capsule pantry has everything you need to get by.
- Use meal delivery services provide you with pre-planned meals and eliminate the need to make multiple trips to the grocery store. If you are looking for a convenient way to save time and money on groceries, consider signing up for one of the many meal planning services available online. Here are some that I love:
- What a Crock Meals to Go
- Quicklly, for Indian cuisine
- Vegin’ Out
- Meal kit services. These companies send you all the ingredients you need to make a meal, along with instructions. All you have to do is cook and enjoy. Meal kit services are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer a convenient way to eat healthy without having to meal plan. Plus, they take the guesswork out of cooking, which can be especially helpful for busy weeknights. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner cook, meal kit services are definitely worth checking out. Here are some I like:
- Good Eggs Curated Meal Kits
- Platterful, for charcuterie board meal kits
- International Meal Kits by Takeout Kits
- Give yourself grace. Order out if you need to! At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the meal was perfect. The most important thing is that you are well fed and happy! Remember, intuitive eating is not about perfection, it’s about learning to nourish yourself from a place of body wisdom.
Easy meal planning ideas
Here are a few of my favorite meals to meal plan! These recipes are very easy to make and lend themselves well to meal planning:
Intuitive eating breakfast ideas
- Overnight Protein Oats
- Greek yogurt + granola + fruit
- Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Intuitive eating breakfast ideas
Intuitive eating dinner ideas
- Skillet Lasagna
- Slow Cooker Chili
- Dutch Oven Chicken Noodle Soup
- Vegan Meatloaf
Intuitive eating snack ideas
- Snacks: Peaches+ cottage cheese
- Pretzels + Hummus
- Chickpea salad +tortilla chips
Intuitive eating and meal planning may seem intimidating at first, but they are worth learning. Once you get the hang of it, these principles can help make your life easier and improve your relationship with food. Have you tried incorporating intuitive eating into your own meal planning? What has been your experience?
Hi! I’m Melissa, Registered Dietitian and mother of two dragons. When I’m not talking nutrition you can find me rolling around the floor with my kids, sewing, crafting, cooking or missing the 90s (seriously, music just isn’t the same). Read More…