Meal Prep. You can’t go on Instagram these days without seeing posts of perfectly portioned food containers laid out on a countertop with little bits of chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli. There is a sense of pride one feels after posting a photo of your week’s meals, ready to be stacked inside the refrigerator. You feel accomplished because you adulted, like the fitness gurus.
Unfortunately, life isn’t a perfect Instagram picture. Sometimes, we just don’t feel like eating that grilled chicken or broccoli for the 4th day in the row, and frankly – IT DOESN’T TASTE AS GOOD. I don’t care how delicious the meal is fresh, you’re going to get tired of it. And some of us just don’t like leftovers. Last night (Sunday night), I was so proud of myself. I made a low carb sandwich roll-up thingie using a low carb tortilla, some nitrate free honey ham, mayo and cheese. I placed it into a pyrex container with a side of cherry tomatoes and olives. I packed a bowl of bright and colorful fruits. Something happened between the proud moment I packed that low carb roll-up and when the time came to eat it this afternoon.
I just didn’t feel like eating it.
I looked down at the food, and immediately felt a sense of “blah”. I begrudgingly took a bite of the sandwich and laid it to the side while I worked. I didn’t even finish half of it. I ate a few of the olives and left the cherry tomatoes behind. Where did the food end up? In the trash. I realized something – this happens to me – A LOT. And I feel like a total jerk when I dump the food in the trash. I feel even worse when I don’t meal prep at all, going to work empty handed. Why? I don’t particularly know, because when I go out to eat I make pretty great choices. I think it stems from a feeling of “failing” as a bariatric patient.
So I decided to do some online research – am I the only person who secretly hates meal prep? What is wrong with me? Well guess what – a lot of other people hate meal prep too, and there’s actually quite a few trainers and coaches that aren’t a fan of it either. I breathed a sigh of relief. I am not alone in this growing hatred for leftover food.
And then I started thinking – if I stop beating myself up about meal prepping and just wing it, would it really cost me more money? No – in fact it may cost me less. I work from home two days a week, so that’s only THREE lunches I need to plan for. Cool thing is that my office is located smack dab in the middle of a busy area with tons of food options. I can get a small greek salad one day, a poke bowl another (which is 2 meals in 1 for me), and a Jimmy Johns Unwich on days I don’t feel like going out to get food. There are options. I am good about scrambling up a couple of eggs for breakfast before I run out of the door, and since I actually do enjoy cooking – spending 20 minutes in the evenings preparing a fresh meal is totally fine by me! Work from home days are chill, I can make fresh food during my workday.
I am a big believer in the notion that the best health plan for you is one that you will follow without struggle, and can be consistent at over a long period of time. You have to look at your own unique situation. Some people love meal prep. Some people only get 20 minutes for lunch, so they don’t have time to run out for food – so it makes sense to bring something. You have to find what works for you. Maybe you hate meal prep too, so instead of cooking in one giant bulk batch for the week, you just make a bigger dinner and eat leftovers the following day. That way you’re not eating the same thing five days in a row [bleh].
Flexibility is so important – because LIFE happens. Our moods and tastes change. Things come up – maybe a coworker wants to go out to lunch. Those of us on a fitness and health journey can be far too rigid with ourselves, and for what? Do you get a meal prep award at the end of the year? No! Can you still make gains or lose weight just by making smart decisions when you go out? Absolutely.
Food is fuel, but it’s also meant to be savored and enjoyed – otherwise we wouldn’t have taste buds, amiright?? Meal prep took the pleasure out of eating for me. No matter how creative or tasty the recipe is – I just don’t want it sometimes. A salad from the Whole Foods salad bar tastes a THOUSAND times better than if I made it at home and it sat in my fridge for a couple days. Our brains are weird. I’m going with the flow now, and enjoying food again. My days of meal prep are over.
The days of visiting drive-thru’s three times a day are far behind me. But looking forward to getting out of the office for a little while to enjoy a poke bowl with a coworker totally brightens up my day. So I am hopping off of the hashtag mealprepsunday bandwagon and doing what feels right for me. I encourage you to forget about what looks good on Instagram and do what’s best for you as well. xo