Meal planning and intuitive eating, on the surface, seem to contradict each other. The reality is, without some sort of meal planning and preparedness, intuitive eating becomes a difficult, expensive, and sometimes inconvenient way of living. Meal planning and prepping, when used the right way, make intuitive eating and mind full eating easier and more accessible for all of us. Keep reading to find out how!
Intuitive eating calls us to tune into our body, evaluate what sounds good, what will taste good, what will feel good, and allows us the decision to choose and enjoy the food that will satisfy us.
The idea that we eat what sounds good, when it sounds good is not realistic for many of us. Unless you have an unlimited food budget and live a walk away from take out or a grocery store, it is truly just not possible to eat what you want when you want it all the time.
The truth is, no matter what food budget, location, or circumstance you are in- intuitive eating can work for you. Meal planning and prepping are often essential to intuitive eating. After all, if you don’t have anything around or prepared it will be difficult to eat anything at all when hunger strikes.
Here are some ways you can implement meal planning and prepping into your routine to make intuitive eating easier, less expensive, and more convenient for you.
The first step is to evaluate who you are today. It is easy to make a plan with the person we wish we were in mind. When you are creating a meal plan to make your life easier, it is important to take a close look at the person you are today and the habits and strengths you have today.
If you don’t really enjoy cooking, don’t choose meals that are complex or require a lot of effort in the kitchen. If you are always short on time in the evenings, don’t plan a dinner meal that will take a hour or more to put together.
Being realistic about what will work for you over the next week or two will work in your favor as you work on honoring your bodies wants and needs.
Flexible Meal Planning and Intuitive Eating
If you are new to intuitive eating meal planning might have the feeling of structure, diets, and restriction. This way of meal planning is behind you. It is time to start looking at it under a new light and with newfound flexibility.
Instead of assigning days to your meals or having each and every meal picked out, learn to be flexible about the when.
Choose 3-4 meals (or recipes) that either sound good to you or that you know you enjoy. A favorite way to do this is to choose 3 that you know you love and one new recipe to try! Remember to keep yourself, your calendar, and your strengths in mind when choosing the meals.
Have 3-4 possibilities in mind that can be made from freezer or pantry items. This could be a frozen pizza, or a freezer meal that you enjoy, frozen meat, noodles, and pasta sauce for a spaghetti, or something else that doesn’t require fresh ingredients that you might not have on hand.
Use the skills that you have gained in listening to your body’s wants and needs to determine what you make and eat each day. Having 7-8 possibilities means that you can truly evaluate what you feel like eating each day.
If you are in the mood for something light and fresh on Monday, choose to eat the salad and soup you had planned. It’s freezing cold and you are in the mood for some true comfort food? Then maybe Tuesday ends up being macaroni and cheese with some roasted broccoli.
Meal Prepping and Intuitive Eating
Meal prepping is a way to help save time and effort during a busy week by having food items, or parts of a recipe already prepared. It does not have to be 5 neatly packed containers of the same meal to eat all week.
Once you have your 3-4 recipes planned out for the week, you can look at each recipe and decide if there are any parts that you can prep ahead of time to make meal time easier.
This could include chopping vegetables you might need, cooking and shredding meat, baking dried beans, or any other piece that might be time consuming the day of.
Meal planning and meal prepping have been saturated with diet culture’s agenda, but they don’t have to be. Instead of the all or nothing approach that dieting puts on these essential time and money savers, learn to add flexibility to them.
Meal planning and intuitive eating are the perfect complement to help you honor your body’s wants and needs more conveniently.
How does meal planning fit into your intuitive eating lifestyle?
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out How to Put the Hunger and fullness Scale into Practice!