When you are offered a lot of choices all at once, do you feel overwhelmed? I do, and I think that’s why I have and continue to struggle with creating a meal plan to follow. Even though I am a registered dietitian and spent years of my life learning about meal planning, it still feels like too much to me. It also feels like too much to wake up and decide what I want to eat each and every day. That’s why I often find myself cruising through a drive-thru for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know what I like, and I get the same thing every time.
So, if I’m eating almost the same things day in and day out from a fast-food restaurant, then why can’t I do that at home? Why do I think that if I am making myself a meal plan and grocery shopping that it has to have tons of variety? I think that because that’s what I was taught was the healthy thing to do – to eat a lot of variety, to not get stuck in food ruts, to not be a picky eater.
Right now, I know that making food at home vs. going to restaurants and drive-thrus on a daily basis is a huge improvement, even if I am eating the same thing every day. I tell my patients all the time that small steps add up to big changes, and I need to apply that same advice to my own life.
Here’s what I have planned to eat for breakfast and lunch for a while, until I get sick of it at least. Keep in mind that everyone has individual nutrition needs, so this is not a “this is what I eat, so you should, too!” It is simple and quick, just like going out to eat, but hopefully it will be gentler on my budget and also give me better energy for my daily routine:
Breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs, 2 packs of instant oatmeal w/ peanut butter, 1 piece of fruit or 1/2 cup fruit juice
Lunch: 4oz meat & cheese, 2 servings of crackers, 2 cups of salad/veggies w/ dressing, 1 piece of fruit or fruit cup
Snacks: popcorn w/ nuts or string cheese, yogurt w/ granola
I will try this for at least a week and then check in with how it is going. It does leave some room for variety, like choosing different fruits, different flavors of oatmeal, different vegetables and dressing for my salads. Dinner is a bit tougher to figure out because some nights I am by myself, and others I am eating with my husband. If we end up getting carry out, fast food, or going out to eat for dinner that’s okay. Another gentle reminder to myself that small changes add up, and I don’t have to resort to “all or nothing” thinking or eating!