One health coach and food blogger ditched the meal-prepping norm—and finally found joy and freedom around food.
This may come as a shocker for some, but I'm a healthy food blogger and—gasp—I am not a meal-prepper.
While pretty much every other health coach and food blogger on the planet spends their Sunday afternoons chopping onions, baking mini gluten-free protein bars, and slicing the most perfect pieces of chicken to fit into beautifully arranged Tupperware for #mealprepsunday, I'm busy watching Netflix, downward-dogging or going on a spontaneous adventure with my family.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the meal-preppers out there. It's simply just not my thing, at least anymore.
You see, I used to be The Queen of Meal Prepping and Planning in college—you know, before it was an actual thing. While all of my "normal" friends were out dining on Mexican food and margaritas or hitting up the dining hall for brunch, I was sitting at home on the couch stressing out over what my next meal would be and counting out my daily allowance of carrot sticks. One-hundred-calorie packs were my jam, and I had a love affair with portioning out my snacks to keep everything in "control."
I'm personally not a fan of meal prepping on Sundays. Perhaps it's because in a way it reminds me of my years of dieting, calorie counting and meal planning. I'd dissect every last bite and was so mathematic when it came to my food. It made me stressed, guilty & anxious. # When I quit dieting, I decided I deserved to feel JOY around food. I didn't want it to feel in any way like it once did in college. Nowadays, I'm chill around food. I buy the ingredients I love so my fridge is stocked, then go by how I feel during the week! Then I can tweak recipes as I see fit and eat what my body is craving. I LOVE experimenting + having fun in the kitchen! # Tonight my body is craving warm & cozy, so I'm whipping up a sweet potato, carrot & kale soup with ground turkey. Lots and lots of garlic! What about you? Are you a meal-prepper or do you just eat random foods throughout the week? Would love to hear from ya! At the end of the day, ya gotta do you.
I actually had a notebook specifically dedicated to writing down what I would eat, and how many calories said food would cost me. I'd spend college lectures scribbling away in my notebook dissecting every last bite—always knowing exactly what my next meal would be, when I would eat it, and how many calories I'd be consuming.
In fact, it's all I thought about. But instead of feeling organized and empowered in the kitchen, cooking made me feel stressed, guilty, and anxious. Wasn't this supposed to make your life easier? Clearly, I was missing the whole point.
Looking back, eating this way was so unbelievably boring. My diet pretty much consisted of salads, egg beaters, grilled chicken, rice cakes, carrot sticks, and frozen weight-control meals (all pre-planned and portioned out to a T). Blah. Where is the fun in that?
When I finally quit dieting the summer I graduated from college, I decided that I deserved to feel joy around food. I wanted to associate eating with family, love, and nourishment. I wanted cooking to be fun, sexy, and experimental! Most of all, I wanted to feel free around food.
I set that intention for myself, and I kept it close to my heart.
Naturally, one of the first things that had to go was my unhealthy obsession with meal planning. So I tossed my "food rules" and notebook, and I started truly living my life. Once I let go of all my crutches—from the diet books to my food journal—I was forced to truly listen to my body for the first time in years. You know, like you'd listen to a best friend.
I made a commitment to myself right then and there that whether I gained 5 pounds or ate one too many pieces of cake, as long as I felt joy around food again it'd all be worth it.
So I stopped counting out my carrot sticks when packing lunch, and pasta became just pasta, rather than an evil carb that had to be measured out to fit into my plan. And I wasn't afraid to skip the salad and eat the darn piece of pizza if pizza was what I really wanted.
It felt so darn good to truly be free.
To my surprise, at the end of that summer, I hopped on the scale to discover I had lost 10 pounds—without dieting or obsessing over food. I was in absolute shock. Not to mention, I felt better about my body than I had in ages. A sudden surge of confidence came over me, and I rocked my skinny jeans for the first time in years.
Nowadays, I'm super chill around food. I peruse the farmers' market without a grocery list, and buy the ingredients I love so my fridge is stocked up, then go by how I feel during the week. This way, I can tweak recipes as I see fit and eat what my body is craving. On chilly, winter evenings that might be soup, so I'll prepare a veggie-packed concoction with just about anything I can find in the fridge. If I have an urge for something salty and crunchy, I may whip up sweet potato fries or kale chips. On humid summer nights, I'll typically crave a cooling gazpacho or something light on the grill like a piece of salmon with summer veggies.
For me, it's all about going by what my body is in the mood for. I love experimenting and having fun in the kitchen, and there's nothing that brings me more joy than sitting around a table among friends and family with good food and red wine.
As a certified health and wellness coach, I empower the women I work with to do the same: Let go of all the rules you've been told and look within. After all, it's impossible to know what your body will be craving ahead of time, let alone a week in advance! Sure, there are some people who thrive on meal-prepping or rely on it to fit their crazy schedules, but why force it if it isn't working for you?
Bottom line: Whether you're a meal-prepping connoisseur or a "whatever's in the kitchen" kind of gal, at the end of the day you just gotta do you.