Updated: Nov 18
Medically reviewed by Serena Benali, Registered Dietitian. Published May 4, 2023.
Meal planning is a way to ensure you're eating healthy, balanced meals that support your overall health and wellness goals. However, many traditional meal-planning approaches can be rigid and restrictive, leading to feelings of guilt, shame, or frustration when you can't stick to them. That's where intuitive eating comes in. By focusing on your body's unique needs and preferences, intuitive eating allows you to create a more flexible, mindful approach to meal planning that supports your well-being in a way that feels natural and sustainable.
We'll explore the benefits of combining meal planning with intuitive eating, and provide you with practical tips and advice for incorporating this approach into your daily routine. We’ll also share our free meal plan to give you inspiration!
In this article we’ll go over:
What is Intuitive Eating
Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to health that is based on the belief that individuals should trust their own bodies when selecting and eating food. This approach encourages individuals to focus on the pleasure and satisfaction of eating, rather than dieting and restriction. It has been used as an effective way to help individuals improve their relationship with food and break the cycle of restrictive dieting.
Additionally, Intuitive Eating encourages individuals to become more mindful and aware of their bodies and their hunger cues. With Intuitive Eating, individuals learn to listen to their bodies and eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied.
Why Intuitive Eating and Meal Planning Go Hand in Hand
Intuitive eating and meal planning might seem like they're at odds, but in fact, they work together seamlessly. Intuitive eating is all about being attuned to your body's needs and making choices based on what feels good and nourishing. And meal planning can help you make those choices in a way that feels efficient, easy and healthy. When you combine the two, you get a powerful tool for creating a sustainable and healthy relationship with food while making healthful choices.
By planning ahead, you can ensure that you have a variety of nourishing options on hand that will keep you feeling satisfied and energized throughout the day. And by tuning in to your body's cues and cravings, you can make informed decisions about what to eat and when. In this way, intuitive eating and meal planning can help you feel more in control of your relationship with food and can lead to a greater sense of ease and well-being around eating.
How Do You Know an Intuitive Eating Meal Plan is Right for You?
If you practice intuitive eating, you might be wondering if meal planning is a good fit for your approach to healthy eating. While meal planning can seem at odds with the flexible and intuitive nature of intuitive eating, it can actually be a helpful tool for making sure you have the foods you need to feel your best.
One way to determine if meal planning is right for you is to consider your own needs and preferences when it comes to food. Do you find that you feel more in control and less stressed when you have a plan in place for meals and snacks? Do you enjoy experimenting with new recipes and finding creative ways to nourish your body? If so, meal planning might be a good fit for your intuitive eating approach. By combining the two, you can create a flexible and sustainable approach to healthy eating that meets your own unique needs and preferences.
Benefits of Meal Planning
Meal planning can offer a number of benefits when it comes to developing a healthy and sustainable approach to eating. Here are four key benefits of meal planning to keep in mind:
When you have a plan in place for your meals and snacks, you can save time on grocery shopping, meal prep, and decision-making. With a few simple strategies, you can streamline your meal planning process and make healthy eating a seamless part of your routine.
Meal planning can also help you save money on groceries, by allowing you to buy ingredients in bulk and reduce waste. When you have a clear plan in place for your meals and snacks, you're less likely to make impulse purchases or order takeout, which can add up quickly over time.
By taking the guesswork out of meal planning and ensuring you have the foods you need to feel your best, you can reduce stress and anxiety around food choices. When you have a plan in place, you can relax and enjoy your meals, knowing that you're nourishing your body in a way that feels good.
Meal planning can also be a mindful practice that encourages you to tune into your body's needs and preferences. By choosing foods that make you feel good and incorporating a variety of flavours and textures, you can promote mindfulness and connection with your body while still enjoying delicious and satisfying meals.
Download our free meal plan to get you inspired to start cooking in the kitchen!
The Benefits of Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is all about developing a healthier and more satisfying relationship with food, and it offers several benefits that can help you feel your best. Here are five key benefits of intuitive eating to keep in mind:
Develops a healthier relationship with food
By tuning into your body's needs and preferences and making food choices based on what feels good, you can develop a healthier and more sustainable relationship with food. No more stressing over calories or worrying about "good" or "bad" foods - just delicious and nourishing meals that make you feel good inside and out.
Encourages mindful eating
Intuitive eating also encourages you to be present and mindful while eating, helping you savour your food and make more informed and satisfying food choices. By taking the time to really taste and enjoy your meals, you can also reduce mindless snacking and overeating, and promote a more positive relationship with food.
Promotes satisfaction and enjoyment with food
By giving yourself permission to eat what you truly want and need, intuitive eating promotes satisfaction and enjoyment with food. Whether it's a juicy burger, a hearty salad, or a slice of chocolate cake, you can indulge in the foods you love without guilt or shame, and feel truly satisfied and nourished as a result.
Supports the body's natural hunger and fullness signals
Intuitive eating also helps you tune into your body's natural hunger and fullness signals, allowing you to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're satisfied. By eating in accordance with your body's needs, you can promote optimal health and well-being, and enjoy delicious and satisfying meals without overeating or feeling deprived.
Helps to reduce emotional eating
Finally, intuitive eating can help you reduce emotional eating and promote a more positive relationship with your body and food. By learning to listen to your body's needs and finding healthy ways to cope with stress and emotions, you can break free from the cycle of dieting and deprivation, and enjoy a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship with food.
How Intuitive Eating Benefits Meal Planning
Intuitive eating and meal planning may seem like opposite concepts, but they actually go hand in hand. In fact, intuitive eating can be a helpful tool for meal planning, allowing for flexibility, creativity, and stress-free meal prep. Here are four key benefits of how intuitive eating can benefit meal planning:
Allows for flexibility in meal planning
Intuitive eating allows you to tune into your body's needs and preferences, and this can be applied to a non diet meal plan. By considering what sounds good to you and what you're in the mood for, you can create meal plans that feel nourishing and satisfying, rather than rigid and restrictive.
Encourages creativity and experimentation with food
Intuitive eating also encourages you to experiment with new foods and flavours, and this can be a great way to spice up your meal-planning routine. Whether it's trying a new recipe or incorporating a new ingredient, intuitive eating can help you stay curious and open-minded when it comes to food.
Promotes a balanced and nourishing diet
By making food choices based on what feels good and nourishing to your body, intuitive eating can help you create meal plans that are balanced and nutritious. You can incorporate a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, while also allowing for occasional treats and indulgences.
Helps to reduce stress and anxiety around meal planning
Finally, intuitive eating can help you reduce stress and anxiety around meal planning by taking the pressure off of making "perfect" food choices. By focusing on nourishment and enjoyment rather than strict rules or restrictions, meal planning can become a source of joy and creativity rather than stress and overwhelm.
Tips for Incorporating Intuitive Eating into Meal Planning
Now that you know how intuitive eating can benefit meal planning, here are some tips for incorporating intuitive eating into your meal planning routine:
If you're new to meal planning, it can feel daunting to apply all the principles at once. Starting with a few meals per week and gradually building from there can help you become more comfortable with the process and gain confidence in your ability to plan and prepare nourishing, satisfying meals that align with your intuitive eating goals.
Create a grocery list
Creating a grocery list is an essential part of meal planning with intuitive eating. Before you head to the store, take some time to plan out the meals you want to make for the week. Then, create a list of the ingredients you'll need for those meals.
Plan ahead for busy days
When you know you'll have a busy day or week ahead, plan ahead by prepping meals or snacks in advance or having some easy-to-grab options on hand.
Consider incorporating meals that are easy to reheat or require minimal prep, such as sheet pan meals or slow cooker recipes. You can cook extra servings of your meals and save the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.
Freezer-friendly meals and leftovers can be a lifesaver during busy times, allowing you to have healthy, satisfying meals on hand without having to cook from scratch every day. Consider making a big batch of your favourite chilli, soup, or stew and freezing individual portions for later.
Experiment with new recipes
Intuitive eating encourages you to explore new foods and flavours, so don't be afraid to try new recipes and experiment with different ingredients.
Using different themes for days, such as "Taco Tuesday" or "Sandwich Sunday," can be a fun way to incorporate variety into your meal planning while still following your intuitive eating principles. This approach can help you plan your meals in a more creative and enjoyable way, while also making it easier to stick to your healthy eating goals.
Listen to your body’s needs and preferences
Listening to your body's needs and preferences is a key aspect of intuitive eating and can also be applied to meal planning. As you plan your meals, take the time to think about what you're in the mood for and what would truly nourish your body. This may mean incorporating a combination of vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats into your meals to provide the nutrients your body needs to feel and function at its best.
Pay attention to your hunger and fullness signals, as well as any cravings or preferences you may have. If you're not feeling particularly hungry for a large meal, plan to have a lighter snack or meal instead. If you're craving something specific, try to find a way to incorporate it into your meal plan healthily and satisfyingly.
Be flexible with meal planning
By listening to your body's needs and preferences, you can create a meal plan that truly nourishes you and helps you feel your best. This may mean adjusting your meal plans from week to week or day to day, but it will ultimately help you create a more sustainable and enjoyable approach to meal planning and eating.
Remember that meal planning is a tool to support your intuitive eating, not to set a rigid diet. Intuitive eating is all about finding a way of eating that works for you and your body, so don't be afraid to experiment and adjust your plans as needed.
Key Takeaways: Meal Planning with Intuitive Eating
Meal planning with intuitive eating is a mindful approach to nourishing your body that can lead to numerous benefits. Intuitive eating allows for flexibility in meal planning, encourages creativity and experimentation with food, and promotes a balanced and nourishing diet. Incorporating intuitive eating into meal planning can also help reduce stress and anxiety around meal planning.
By listening to your body's needs and preferences, starting small, creating a grocery list, and planning ahead for busy days, you can successfully integrate intuitive eating into your meal-planning routine. Additionally, experimenting with new recipes and having a variety of freezer-friendly meals and leftovers can provide you with easy and nourishing meal options throughout the week.
The benefits of intuitive eating extend beyond meal planning, developing a healthier relationship with food, encouraging mindful eating and decision-making, promoting satisfaction and enjoyment with food, supporting the body's natural hunger and fullness signals, and helping to reduce emotional eating. Incorporating intuitive eating into your meal planning can be a positive step towards developing a more mindful and nourishing relationship with food.
Let's take your intuitive eating journey to the next level! Our team of registered dietitians are specialized in intuitive eating and are here to guide and support you every step of the way. Contact us today and let's make a nourishing relationship with food a reality!