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5 Reasons Meal Plans Don't Work (And What to do Instead)

“Just tell me what to eat. Tell me exactly what to eat and I’ll be fine”. Dietitians hear this all the time. We hear the tone of desperation this plea often carries. We even understand why people think they want one, but we also hesitate because we know they don’t work. Read on to find out why and what you can do instead.

1. Meal Plans Don’t Fix Root Problems

Many people want a meal plan because they don’t trust themselves to make healthy choices. Others don’t think they can learn portion control so want something that eliminates their self-proclaimed binge foods. If, however, the ultimate goal is to establish a life-long, healthy relationship with food such that you can walk into any food situation and maintain control, a meal plan will never get you there.

Both Juliana and Kristen have specific training in nutrition-related behaviour change and lifestyle coaching. Our Pura Vida team can work with you to determine why you think you need a meal plan and then tackle the root issues. Get started now with an online consult.

2. Meal Plans Are Overwhelming

Meal plans are restrictive, time-consuming, and overwhelming. They often involve changing far too many habits at once and are only effective if you meticulously weigh and measure out everything. Not only are you buying new foods, and trying new recipes, but you now have to carve out a lot more time to cook, measure, pack, and wash up. Because of these barriers, meal plans are rarely followed.

3. Meal Plans Can’t Account For Real Life

It's not that meal plans don't account for real life, they can't. They can’t account for schedule changes, special occasions, or your teenager’s dinner preferences. They don’t prepare you for the celebratory team lunch, the surprise biscuits brought in by your boss, or your partner’s work party you thought you could skip.

4. Meal Plans Don’t Work In The Long-Run

Meal plans, like a diet, require following a strict set of rules with the promise that if you do, all your dreams will come true. Even if you are able to muster the drive to follow one for a few weeks, what happens when you stop? Since meal plans don’t teach you lifestyle changes, once you tire of them, you’ll be back to where you started, only more frustrated and discouraged.

5. Meal Plans Are Challenging To Customise To Your Preferences

Yes, today advanced software can build a host of meal plans for general preferences, but even a highly personalised plan won’t leave room for your momentary preferences. Perhaps your meal plan was customised to fit your vegetarian diet or to account for your peanut allergy, but what about when you just don’t feel like Monday’s 10:00 a.m. 150g of non-fat yoghurt and 1/2 cup berries?

Okay. I believe you. Sort of. But what can I do instead?

While we don’t support traditional meal plans, we do support creating a guide for you. We’re introducing our Nutrition Master Plan as the meal plan solution! Rather than dictating meal-by-meal and snack-by-snack specifics, our nutrition masterplan gives you a customised outline of how many serves from each food group we recommend for you, taking into account important aspects such as timing, nutrient distribution and satiety. These are tailored specifically to your needs and give enough structure while still allowing for the flexibility needed for real life. We see the Nutrition Masterplan as a blueprint, that supports your goal without being too intrusive, and frees up mental space for you to work on those deep root issues, attitudes and nutrition behaviours that you need to make these changes last.

The Nutrition Master Plan is available as a fully online service, which can be booked here. If you have any questions and would like to discuss if this is the right approach for you, get in touch! We are keen to hear from you!


Kristen & Jules.

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