In the third installment of his Real or Not Real blog series, Profile’s
Coach of Coaches, Chris Clark, explores the importance of making meal
In terms of meal planning, we couldn’t live in more confusing times.
In a recent Harvard Medical School study, researchers found that people
significantly underestimate the calories in their meals. It seems that
we have lost touch with what is in what we eat.
Counting and Tracking Calories is Tricky
If you search “how many calories do I need to eat per day”
on Google, you’ll find that most of the results will offer a generic,
one-size-fits-all suggestion. The problem with this is that people aren’t
manufactured in a factory – everyone is unique and living their
lives under different circumstances. When we read an article claiming
that the average man or woman needs 2,000 calories per day, that’s
where we tend to slip away from reality and make goals that may not be
in our best interest.
If you are going to count calories and make plans regarding what you want
to eat, you have to get real about what you need specifically; no one
else’s plan will fit. Profile coaching starts with making healthy
changes to help you discover what the
new you really needs. We have to get away from what is recommended for others
and seek a deep understanding of what you need.
Outside Factors Do Not Compute
There are many calculators out there that attempt to figure out how many
calories you need (we even use one to help identify possible goals). No
calculator can factor in your stress level, your sleep patterns, and your
social life at your new weight, and so on. Psychological and environmental
factors like these cannot be calculated. The only way to truly understand
your real calorie needs is to live it, and I highly recommend doing it
with your Profile coach.
Over the course of several weeks at your goal weight, you can start to
see how the scale responds to certain sustained calorie ranges. When you
get a feel for what life is like at your goal weight, you will start to
make new meaning in meal planning and counting calories.
If meal planning has been difficult for you in the past, here’s 5
steps to help you develop a meal plan that fits your individual needs:
STEP 1: Start A Food Journal
Start documenting everything you eat and drink each day in a log or online
tracker. You may be surprised at how much food you consume on a daily basis.
STEP 2: Practice Portion Control
When cooking at home, use a food scale to help you create meals in healthy portions.
STEP 3: Restaurants – Know Before You Go
Studiously review what restaurants in your area have to offer so you can
make better decisions about where you eat out. Pay special attention to
portions, cooking styles and nutrition facts. Many restaurant foods are
extremely high in calories because they add sugar, fats and sodium to
make food taste better.
STEP 4: See Food Differently
Change the way you look at food. Sit down with your Profile coach and
have a chat about how to view food as fuel for your body. Talk about what
your body needs versus what your brain wants.
STEP 5: Map Out Your Meals
Meal planning should be the last step in the process, even though its
often flipped to first. After you’ve gone through steps 1-4, you
can be much more purposeful with your meal planning, which will help you
achieve better results. When you have an intimate knowledge of your personal
nutritional needs, you’ll be able to meal plan in a meaningful way.
In general, I feel that people don’t meal plan and prep enough. Maybe
we are too afraid to admit that we don’t really know what is in
our food anymore. With endless options, it takes a real effort to control
our food instead of letting food control us. I know there’s little
time to devote to this, but I also know you can do it. If the number on
the scale has gone up recently and you don’t really know why, start
by admitting it is time to get real with food.
Chris Clark is Profile by Sanford’s Learning and Development Manager,
which means he makes a real difference in our mission to Change Lives,
One Relationship at a Time.
Check out the last installment of his Real or Not Real series where Chris shares his take on the word 'Just' and how empowering
it can be to remove it from your vocabulary.