Learning the art and science of intentional eating has been an important part of my weight loss journey.
By intentional eating, I mean that I plan what I am going to eat for every meal at least 24 hours in advance. This may sound restrictive, but it saves a ton of time and mental energy.
It’s a bit like once you’re married you don’t have to think about dating, who you should or should not go out with, how often you should see them. It’s a whole lot of emotional energy saved and it’s the same with intentional eating.
I have a food plan. Each week I decide what I am going to eat for every meal. My weekly food plan incorporates regular foods, exception foods, joy eats, drinks and meals out. My regular foods are foods that I chose to eat regularly. I chose them because they provide fuel for my body and I feel good when I eat them. For me these include: all vegetables, meat, poultry, fish dairy, rice and potatoes, coffee. I eat limited fruit, rice and potatoes because fruit makes me feel bloated, and potatoes and rice make me feel sluggish.
Exception meals are meals where I chose in advance to eat foods that are not ‘regular’ for me. This will mostly be foods that incorporate sugar and/or flour. For example, my daughter loves having afternoon tea and so whilst I generally don’t eat sugar and flour, sometimes when we go out for the day, I will choose to enjoy an afternoon tea with her. Another exception meal might be dinner at a friend’s house where I chose to enjoy the meal whether it is something I would usually eat or not.
With regards to eating out, most often I can eat out without having to make it an exception meal. When I plan my food each week, I will check out the menu of the restaurants I am going to and chose what I will have on the menu. This works well for me. It’s so much easier to choose foods that I truly want in advance when I am using my pre frontal cortex, my thinking brain. If I don’t plan what I am having in advance I am usually tempted to order foods in the moment that I may later regret.
And lastly a joy eat would be a specific food that I want to plan on eating that isn’t on my regular food list. For me it is often ice cream, chocolate or cheese cake. I plan in advance when I want to have this ‘treat eat’ and, because I only plan to have one every few weeks, I totally enjoy it and it’s no big deal. It doesn’t mean that I put losing weight, or maintaining my weight, at risk.
Initially some of my clients resist having a food plan. They think it’s going to be too restrictive, but once they incorporate it into their routine, they love it. It reduces their brain chatter, decision making and emotional energy that they have around food.
When I work with my clients, we create a food plan that will enable them to lose weight quickly, without being so restrictive that they rebel against it. We create a plan that works with their routine and their food likes and dislikes. I want them to feel some restriction, but I don’t want them to feel depleted. One of the reasons I want them to feel some restriction, in addition to helping them get the weight off quickly, is so that they can start processing their feelings and emotions. Having a food plan helps the emotional desire for eating to surface quickly so we can get to work on learning how to manage those emotions and ultimately feel better.
So, just to recap a ‘food plan’ is what myself or my clients eat on a regular basis, it’s like their food and meal routine. Another benefit of a food plan is that it gives them consistent results week to week. Every client will have a different plan based on what and how they want to eat. There are many different aspects of food and eating that we take into consideration.
The stricter a client is with their food
plan, the less they must think about food. It’s just automatic. It’s just what they
do. Because they create a plan that works for them, there’s nothing to rebel
against, it’s not like they’re following some external diet. They’re following
a plan that they have created for themselves. What this does, is it releases them
from the food chatter in their mind. There’s no negotiation, there’s no
reacting, there’s no justification, and there’s no unconsciousness, because
it’s all decided and planned ahead of time.
A client’s personal food plan is their formula that equals them having the body they want. My clients find that having their own food plan serves their mind and their body. It’s one of the reasons why they won’t gain the weight back, because they make a lifetime commitment to a way of eating that serves them.
A food plan is a lifetime solution because I teach my clients how to tweak it as needed. That is, we tweak it appropriately to truly scientifically see how it is or is not working. We don’t mess around and tweak it daily. We take a truly scientific approach to what is and isn’t working for them, in terms of their psyche, and in terms of their weight, and we will tweak it. Once we get it dialed in, it’s just a matter of mathematics. Then stick to the plan. Get the results.