Planned Intuitive Eating

Posted: January 27, 2011 at 12:16 pm

That title seems like quite the oxymoron, doesn’t it? Many perceive intuitive eating as completely go-with-the-flow in moment to moment eating decisions. Doesn’t planning negate that concept? I don’t really know the answer, but I do know that I would say I practice it.

Most of you know how much I believe in intuitive eating. I wrote an entire series reviewing its principles after all. (You can find all those posts under my Top Posts page). At the same time, however, I have to plan out much of what I eat..and when I eat. As a mom coordinating schedules for two others, I have to make time for myself to eat because otherwise I honestly may forget to eat. That’s no fun and only leaves me ravenous and out of touch with my body. Also, we have a pretty tight budget when it comes to groceries; meal planning has to occur.

For this reason, I typically eat the same things each week for breakfast, lunch, and snacks as they are the items planned for in my meals. Dinner is something new every night, but also planned while making my grocery list. My meals this week, for example, look something like this -

Breakfast = oats topped w/ natural peanut butter & fruit, an egg on the side


Snack 1 = a banana and some Cocoa Roast or Cinnamon Roast almonds


Lunch = a sandwich on bakery fresh 9 grain bread w/ turkey, tomato, spinach, mustard, pickles, onion and veggies w/ hummus on the side…some dark chocolate for my sweet tooth


Sometimes I will have leftovers for lunch instead of the above.


Snack 2 = a container of Chobani and an apple before heading to the gym


Dinners = last night we had roasted chicken & carrots, fresh green beans, and whole wheat macaroni & cheese (thanks, Alisha for the care meal! delicious!!!)


Dessert = If I’m craving something, I will have a small somethin’ somethin’ for dessert. You can imagine this happens in some form most nights. 😉


So, how can I call this intuitive eating if I know ahead of time what I plan to eat? In my opinion, there is one basic difference that allows this style of eating to work for me and still be intuitive on a whole. My plans are simply due to lifestyle and not set with the intention of having control over my food. This way I can still practice true intuitive eating with the following adjustments if necessary:

  • If I still feel hungry over what I planned to eat, I do not hesitate to have more.
  • If I truly don’t feel like eating something, I don’t force it. We do have other options I can make work when I don’t feel like having a planned meal.
  • I still focus on eating mindfully and being aware of cravings caused by emotions, stress, fatigue, etc.
  • I plan foods and meals I truly enjoy and I know I will want to eat. I don’t plan foods because they are “good” versus “bad” or fit a certain caloric allotment.

So, there you have it. My approach as “planned intuitive eating”. It works for me.

Question of the Day – Do you plan out meals or take things one meal at a time? What ways do you practice eating intuitively?

Also, do you like the occasional “my day of eats” posts to see what I have or do you prefer it more sporadic with showing a snack here, breakfast there, dinner every now and then?

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89 Comments to “Planned Intuitive Eating”
  1. Liz says:

    Oh, I am such a planner. I’m a planner in all-things-life, so planning out my food for the day is no surprise. It actually makes me look forward to eating, though. 🙂

  2. I am so grateful that I’ve learned to listen to my body and what it’s needs and wants are. Of course I’m not perfect, but I am worlds away from where I was a couple years ago, just shoveling in whatever whenever! 😉

  3. Hilary says:

    Since I’m a student and I’m on campus a lot, I usually have to plan to bring meals and snacks to school in order to save money. If I’m going to be home though I usually just think about what I want to eat an hour or two ahead of time. My meals tend to look pretty similar day to day though as I know what will and what won’t satisfy me!

  4. Melie says:

    I really like your approach! And it really resembles mine! 🙂 I am away from home most of the day and I have found that it is more convenient, less expensive and not mention healthier to have food with me. So, I need to plan. If I need something extra or different, I can always manage but planning has really helped 🙂

  5. Melissa says:

    Great stuff!! I need to plan ahead more than I do. I come home and THEN ask myself what I should make and then it’s a mad rush and not as enjoyable as it should be. Thanks for the heads to plan dinner BEFORE going home:)

  6. I looooove cocoa roasted almonds!!!! So addicting!

  7. I have to plan my meals when I’m in work because I bring my food. But if I do get extra hungry I’ll have a snack I keep in my bag or something more when I get home.

  8. cocoa roasted almonds are DANGEROUSLY addicting!! they havea new flavor too now! butter toffee! I havent tried but want to!

    I plan my meals for the most part because I bring them to work so I pack the day of or thenight before. I will cook a Bunch of chicken or turkey on sunday and a big pot of brown rice or quinoa then I just have it for the week!

  9. Coco says:

    Your breakfasts and snacks look a lot like mine, except I eat my breakfast in two parts (first eggbeaters and toast, then oatmeal/PB or banana/almond).

    Since I can be at work for 10 hours a day or longer, I have to plan ahead, but I also try to eat intuitively by giving myself options in case I really am not in the mood for what I’ve brought. (I have a stash of food in my office – Luna bars, PB, crackers, etc.) I also try to plan dinner ahead (or at least plan out the options for the week) but I need a Plan B and a Plan C with my work schedule and my son’s sports’ schedule.

    I did a breakfast post yesterday, which includes a not-so-rave review of the new Vitalicious egg sandwiches:

  10. Errign says:

    I am craving Chobani so bad right now – I can’t wait until the new flavors appear at my grocery store!

    That whole wheat mac & cheese looks really, really good!

  11. What a beautifully healthy day of food! I’ve been so bad about plannning meals lately, but I usually think it can go hand in hand with intuitive eating… planning ahead and having healthy foods on hand is a sure road to success!

  12. I know what you mean about forgetting to eat! Some days, if we wake up late, it’s lunch time and I realize I’m STARVING!

    • Tina says:

      I never thought I would forget to eat…but some days are such madness.And that hunger is hard to control when it happens, huh?

  13. I do kind of a mixture of both. I usually plan out 5 breakfasts, lunches and dinners at the beginning of the week with some repeats on lunch and breakfast. Then as the week goes on, I just pick off the list depending on what sounds good. This works pretty well for me I think!

  14. I SO agree with you. it’s so hard to be ‘intuitive’ and still plan in some ways. Love this post!

  15. Ela says:

    I like both–‘my day of eats’ and the occasional tidbit. This is a really smart idea, though: to plan and be pragmatic and yet listen to your body and follow your intuition at the same time.


  16. Lee says:

    I definitely plan my daily meals because I bring my lunch and snacks to work pretty much every day. I always bring a morning and afternoon snack, but sometimes don’t eat them both depending on how I am feeling. Of course, there are other days when I eat them both at 9 am!

  17. Great post, Tina! I am all about intuitive eating. Your approach is great. So many moms trying to juggle a family, life, budgets often forget to eat and about their own health. You are so right that this leads to mindless ravenous eating most of the time. It’s great that you meal plan to stay on track! I often eat the same things too…it keeps it simple when you are busy!

  18. YES YES YES! I wrote a post a few weeks ago about intuitive eating and structure, and how I don’t necessarily think the two have to be opposing forces. And in coordination with what I wrote this morning, we really are on the same wave length…as usual. 🙂

  19. I plan out my eats: I plan my bfast and lunch the night before (they usually change day to day but for bfats I usually have oats, smoothie, or toast and almond butter-lunch is leftovers, salad, or hummus sammy) Dinner is always different 🙂

    I love your “what I ate today” – it gives me new ideas 🙂 Keep em’ coming!

  20. the plan looks fantastic 🙂 i like ‘planned intuitive’ – it actually does make sense!

  21. Rach says:

    I suppose our approach is kind of a “flexible meal plan.” Every other Monday I plan out all the meals we will have for two weeks (breakfasts, lunches and dinners). Then I go shopping that day for everything we need. So now we have a kitchen stocked with the ingredients for two weeks of meals. So I ask my husband what he wants (or I decide if I’m drawn to a particular meal) and that’s what I prepare for that night. At the beginning of the two weeks it’s really great because you feel like you’re in a restaurant with so many choices. And by the end of the two weeks, we eat whichever meals are left. When we first got married I did this by the month (because that’s what my mom always did), but I realized that veggies and fruits just couldn’t stay fresh that long and we nearly always ran out of bread, milk and eggs as well. So we do the biweekly thing and it works for us. 🙂

  22. Karen says:

    I am definitely a meal planner! I plan each week’s dinners on Sunday mornings. I am like you in that breakfasts and lunches are pretty much the same. I always have a few options available in case I want to mix it up a little. Being a working mom I have to have my dinners, if not, we would end up eating junk for dinner! Plus my Type A personality makes me a total planner!!

  23. Heather says:

    It depends on my work schedule. I rotate through three different day shifts (6:30-3:00, 8:00-4:30, and 9:00-7:30). On my earliest of the shifts I know that breakfast will need to be quick, a parfait or overnight breakfast, but on my later shift I can get up and make a more involved meal. Also when I eat super early, I know I will have to have a morning snack whereas when I go in later, I’m usually fine until lunch.

    Dinner is always a surprise. Sometimes I think all day about what I will make and other times, I get inspiration from other blogs!

    I like your “day of eats” posts! I’m always curious about what others munch on during the day!

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