My boyfriend, Wes, had his first appointment with the dietitian the other day. He has been all set up with a meal plan and target numbers for protein, carbs and fat for every meal. He has a binder chalk full of meal ideas, shopping lists and educational materials. I can honestly say I, his Registered Dietitian girlfriend, am completely stressed out and overwhelmed.
How am I going to make this work for this no vegetable, pizza loving guy? I can only imagining how my patients feel, and how anyone else who doesn’t have my background would experience this sort of diet upheaval. But the thing is that it is not even my diet we are talking about!
Many of you may ask, why is he even bothering to see another dietitian? So let me share a couple of those reasons. First reason, I don’t want to be the bad cop or food police. Yes I will be a resource and assist him, but I am not here to monitor everything he puts into his mouth. Second, he has to take ownership and WANT to do this. I want him to change his eating habits of course, but he needs to be on board or this ship is going nowhere. I commend him because he is motivated and ready to make changes. Working with another dietitian will also help push his limits, and he is already stating that he is willing to try some more vegetables. I had totally given up on vegetables since I am usually met with resistance (like the stubbornness of a getting a 3 year old to eat their vegetables). His horizon has been broadened after his first visit and I know he will accomplish more than I ever expected (even if salads are still 20 years off).
So back to all the stress. I am stressed about his health (he is like a time bomb) and how to make his meal plan work. The night of his appointment, we were caught in a situation where we had a busy evening but no meal options that fit his new food plan. We both had a protein based snack around 6pm, but then the night went longer than we expected and we ended up starving and not eating dinner until after 9pm. There was no drive-through option and he had to find an option to fit his meal plan. Turns out that the best choice available was Applebees, and though he did make a healthy choice, it was less than ideal. After that first night I knew we needed to get to the grocery store ASAP and make a plan.
Here is where I am going to come in handy. I love to plan and make lists. I know what I am doing about 3 months out and I usually have a personal meal plan at least in my head, if not in my planner about a week out. I just had to translate his dietary goals into his meal plan. Now I am thinking about what he is eating for lunch and snacks when I am not around. To start I jotted down a 4 day plan that started immediately to get him through. We went to the grocery store last night and stocked him with appropriate snacks to take to work. He has his lunches all set for the rest of the week, and we have dinners ready to go as well. Let me tell you, it took thought and planning and ultimately a lot of work… and it was only 4 days of meals! I am not at all intimidated by the work, but it was a bit overwhelming. I am also thinking about things like: when are we going to be able to get back to the grocery store, and brainstorming dinners for the next week. Soon he is going to get his menu handed to him, all typed out for the week in advance… and I am not kidding!
I feel alot better after the first grocery shop and having a plan in place for the next few days. Planning is going to be one of the markers of his success, granted I am doing the planning for him… but I am a tool for him to use. So my advice to all of you dieters out there… PLAN! Start dietary changes with an empty pantry, armed with a grocery list, and motivation. I know this is going to get easier and become part of our routine, but I value the insight that I am gaining from the other side as Wes and I embark on his journey to better health, both inside and out!