Meal Plan – A guide to inform you what to eat, when and how much.
I see people constantly asking about the perfect LCHF meal plan. What should we eat when, and how much. There is no easy way to say this, but here goes – there is no “one size fits all” LCHF meal plan. I am not sure why people are so shocked by this statement.
Let me not be that harsh – we also wanted a structured and outlined meal plan to help us. Maybe its human nature, we can follow instructions (or at least most of us), and if we are told what and how to do it, your chances of failing will be lower. I guess that’s why people love quick fix diets. It easy to follow, regardless of the health benefits or in most cases, lack of health benefits.
If you google – “meal plan for weight loss” you will be shocked to see how many different meals plans are out there. Some claims you will drop a dress size in a week, others ask for 21 or 30 days for the “perfect” summer body, some will even restrict you calorie intake. The sad part, I use to try many of these eat plans (diets) to get “into shape”. Looking at them now, I feel proud of what we achieved over the last year. We managed to change our relationship with food. Not just for 7 or 21 or 30 days, but for good.
You can also find various LCHF meal plans. BE VERY CAREFUL – most of them are not very healthy. Yes, they may encourage eating low carb food, but eating 3 meals a day, and snacks might not be the best way to go. There are plenty of LCHF type of “diets” so also keep this in mind when you are looking for a meal plan. Some exclude all dairy, others include fruit, some promote drinking bulletproof coffee daily others include honey and maple syrup as acceptable sugars.
I guess the best place to start will be “defining” your LCHF lifestyle. What does it mean to you. In South Africa, banting seems to be the favourite, but even with this you will find various versions of what to eat and what not. Some include peas and baby corn, others don’t. I would suggest you research your options and stick to one guideline. In our case we follow the food lists in the new The Low-Carb Creed book by Sally-Ann Creed (co-authored by Merle Westcott and Janita Bold), making it much easier to know what we can and cannot eat.
We developed our own meal plan – and believe me its very easy! So how did we do it? The first step for us was getting a menu – our own family menu. You know you will make certain meals once or twice a week so take the time and sit down with the family and decide on a menu. Our first menu was for a whole month. This might seem like a lot but it was very broad – Wednesday we will eat fish, Saturday we will braai. We also included 3 meals a day and a snack. Please note – we did not eat every meal everyday on our menu, but this helped us with getting use to what we can eat. Some days hubby will eat breakfast, lunch and dinner while I will only eat lunch and dinner. Each person will have to find their own “sweet” spot where you feel full and satisfied with your meals.
Personally, I do better when I include a bit more carbs and exclude dairy, while hubby can tolerate dairy without picking up weight. Little M needs more carbs and fat so for her we include “orange” list carbs daily. So our meal plan is very flexible but we never have to wonder what to eat. Perhaps for us it might have been a bit easier as we already had to exclude certains foods to accommodate Little M and her food allergies, but a meal plan or menu did assist us greatly in the beginning.
Once you are comfortable with what to eat and what works best for you and your family, you will not need a meal plan or menu. If you feel that you cannot follow this lifestyle without one, make sure you get assistance from somebody with lots of experience and not wanting to make extra money from you by selling you their meal plan and ask you to buy other products like shakes and supplements. Sadly, there are plenty of people trying to make money from this lifestyle and they do not have your best interest at heart. I will say it again – LCHF lifestyle is not a “one size fit all”, so please do not just follow a meal plan you download from the internet or buy from somebody.
Go ahead, try and develop your own meal plan, include the food your family enjoys and just adjust it to include LCHF approved items. Replace pasta with zoodles or sliced cabbage. If you make stew with rice, replace the rice with cauli rice. If you enjoy curry with roti’s, make LCHF roti’s. Pancakes for breakfast? Make coconut pancakes with fresh cream or even berry sauce. The options are endless so you never have to feel deprived or forced to eat things you do not like – unlike diet meal plans where you are force to eat steamed spinach (I prefer mine with loads of bacon, mushroom and cream). If you don’t want to take my word for it, go ahead and try it!