I was asked recently whether meal-prepping your food for the week is anti-intuitive eating. Great question! I can see how, in some ways, it might seem like meal-prepping your food for the week might seem anti-intuitive, but as I’ll explain in a minute, I don’t think it has to be.
Sometimes I feel like intuitive eating is associated with the idea that, in order to be eating intuitively, you have to approach every eating occasion like an act of discovery. I hear people say sometimes, “But I don’t have time for that!” and I can understand why people may feel this way.
When you’re feeling extra sensitive, these well-intentioned messages can sometimes come off as out-of-touch wellness influencers telling us to listen to our bodies and give it what it wants (especially if it’s a green smoothie featuring an expensive adaptogen powder they’re being paid to promote) but without acknowledging that—hey!—some of us work outside the home and don’t have time in the morning to have a conversation with ourselves about whether we want eggs, pancakes, or a smoothie (or whatever it might be). And forget having time to then make that food! And what about people for whom gentle structure is very helpful?
But then, on the flip side, is preparing meals and snacks for the week ahead a way of ignoring that inner wisdom about what we need to feel nourished? How do you intuitively know what you’re going to want a few days from now?
The way I look at it, taking the longer view of what your body needs and wants is another way to practice intuitive eating. How, you ask? By paying attention to your patterns in hunger levels and energy through the day and by noting what foods and food combinations help you feel satisfied, energized, and grounded, you can learn to plan ahead for what you will likely need. This can take time and curiosity, but it can help you feel more in tune with your body and to anticipate what will serve you.
This is why I recommend taking a look at your calendar for the coming week when you’re thinking about what foods to prepare. What’s your schedule going to be like? Are there days where you may be extra busy or extra active or more prone to stress? Are there days you think you’ll be in the mood for a treat? While it may be different from those in-the-moment check-ins, what’s the same is that clear line of communication between your mind and body. In other words, you’re still honoring your needs and preferences.
So I actually think that thoughtful meal-prepping can be a part of an intuitive approach to eating.
Want more info about meal planning and meal prepping? Check out my guide to flexible meal planning.