A company thats been around for that many years, well they must be doing something right, right? That made me wonder what exactly their plans consisted of so I went on the website and did some research. It promised “With Jenny Craig, you don’t have to count, track, or worry about what to eat. We give you everything you need to succeed”. You get a personal consultant that you chat with once a week, over 100 menu items to choose from, 5 meals each day + one snack on your own and they claim you lose 3 times more weight than dieting on your own. You fill out a form saying what your goal is and in just a few days all of your meals are sent to you pre packaged and ready to nuke in the microwave. Sounds like a great plan to most but I see one MAJOR flaw. There is zero understanding of why you're eating what you're eating and zero knowledge of what a nutritious diet should consist of. Almost like a robot, merely following a strict cookie cutter diet, eating these over processed, pre packaged meals that were sent to you and having no clue why.
This is why we do NOT write meal plans for clients.
Let’s pretend for a moment that we as coaches at Flex Fuel wrote meal plans. We hand over your plan that specifies exactly what to eat each day, for each meal. On Saturday for dinner, your meal planned is 4 oz of chicken, 1/2 cup of rice, and a green vegetable which you’re content with but not super thrilled, chicken has been on the menu every night. Then you get a phone call that afternoon from your best friend from high school, she's in town and wants to go out for tacos. This puts you instantly into a frantic spiral of what to do because tacos are not in your meal plan. You stress about coming up with an excuse to skip out on dinner yet decide to go. One taco in and thoughts of you blowing your diet start creeping into your mind. You figure why not if you’ve already fallen off the plan so one taco turns to 4, plus margaritas and dessert after. When we fall off the wagon, we tend to have an all or nothing mentality so that little one taco slip up turns into a bigger backslide. Meal plans do not allow flexibility for life. What happens if you have a work party? Or get asked out on a date? What if your niece wants you to enjoy a piece of her birthday cake? Are you going to turn down all of those fun life events because they will derail your meal plan?
This is why flexible eating is so awesome! Before I ever knew about macros or flexible eating, I followed a paleo/whole 30 way of eating. I still think those plans have their benefits in the sense it teaches you to eat real whole nutrient dense foods rather than processed crap. But I’m human and sometimes I wanted a treat that didn’t fall into the whole 30 category. The problem I would run in to was if I wanted a reese’s peanut butter cup, I would eat it and feel like a failure because it did not fit into the whole 30 diet. I really had no idea how much it hurt my progress to eat that “off limit” treat. Flexible eating allows for those moments because if I decide half way through my day that I want a piece of chocolate, I can log it and make adjustments later in my day to account for it. You learn what foods you can substitute for what, you can plan head and program that dinner out with friends, if you want that piece of cake you can make it fit within your daily targets without feeling like the whole day is a wash. You’re not forced to eat the same staple items written on a plan, you can actually eat the foods you enjoy and still reach your goals. By learning how to fuel your body and becoming more knowledgable about tracking, the probability of attaining your goals becomes so much higher.
This is why we don’t write meal plans. We want our clients to learn and become comfortable with what foods help them reach their goals, what foods are the best fuel for their bodies. We want you to get familiar with weighing foods and what portion sizes should look like. We want you to know that you don’t have to eat a rigid meal plan to see progress. Jenny Craig lied when they said they give you every thing you need to succeed, in my eyes they’re setting people up for failure. Thanks Jenny Craig for the promise of “no need to track” but we choose tracking and learning how to fuel our body, plus last time I went out to eat, I don't remember a Jenny Craig option on the menu.