Coaching and ServicesNutrition Coaching Meal Plans: Encourage your Clients to Emulate, Not Eliminate, their Favorite Diet

Are you giving your clients customized meal plans?

Are you taking into account their preferences (satiety, macro needs, lifestyle, and more)? If not, you might be missing out!

As an online trainer, it’s so important to teach our clients the skills they need to succeed on their own.

Meal Plans: Encourage your Clients to Emulate, Not Eliminate, their Favorite Diet

Instead of encouraging my clients to remove unwanted food items or follow some cookie-cutter meal plan, I opt for teaching my clients the facts about nutrition. From how to track calories, what macro and micro nutrients are and how they function in the body, to lifestyle modifications that can easily be implemented. By the time my clients have reached their goals, they know exactly what’s required to maintain their success!

When you educate your clients, you empower them.

Everyone knows that “dietary guidelines” exist, and that nutritional labels are found on packaging; but they often don’t know even the most basic information on what this means for them and their goals.

By supplying your clients with the facts about nutrition, you remove the guilt, shame, and confusion that comes with most diet plans. When they know the why and how of nutritional planning they are more likely to see long-term success and own-up to their failures. By removing the pseudoscience your clients can see how and why certain diet plans work, and why they may have failed in the past.

Stressing small changes over a long period of time, education about meal tracking and goal setting, as well as allowing your clients the freedom to consume the foods they know and love in the proper portions is vital to maintenance of a healthy body weight over time. With the integration of MyFitnessPal and Trainerize, this should be a breeze!

As humans, we all have our own preferences for foods we enjoy, time of the day we enjoy eating them, quantity of foods which keep us satisfied, as well as any dietary restrictions due to allergies or intolerance. This cannot be overlooked if our clients want long-term success.

Set the Stage for Success

Having a blog on your website not only helps drive traffic from potential clients; it’s an excellent opportunity to give your clients the nutrition-know-how they need. Some common myths my clients have believed include: meal timing, shakes/pills/wraps being necessary for weight loss, carbohydrates being “evil”, protein supplements being for “men”, and more! By taking the time to research and provide evidence-based nutritional advice, your clients will learn how to eat a sustainable diet that fits their personal needs without time-wasting diet myths.

Don’t “Cheat” if you want Sustainability

In my experience, labeling foods as “bad” or “off-limits” encourages an unhealthy relationship with nutrition. Providing your clients with a specific meal plan which does not account for their preferences may lead them to believe that they can only achieve success by following that exact plan. This can lead to food-aversion and obsessions. Clients who have aversions to “unclean” or “bad” foods are more likely to experience binge-eating, and develop orthorexia.

As such, I cannot stress enough how important it is to support your clients in finding substitutes to their favorite high-calorie foods. Reducing portions of their favorite calorie-dense foods and emulating, not eliminating, foods which don’t fit their current dietary goals. From experience, suggesting healthier snacks, supporting meal-timing that coincides with the time of the day they are most hungry, and teaching them how to stay on track is a better and balanced approach to nutritional planning.

Teach Them and Watch Their Passion Grow

No more confusion about why the latest fad-diet worked for their relative/friend and not for them. No more un-doing their weekly calorie deficit with “cheat meals.” No more guilt and shame over “unclean” or “bad” foods. Most importantly, no more confusion about why they aren’t seeing the results they want.

It’s Okay to Refer Them!

It’s okay to refer your clients to a dietitian! If your client struggles to control their overall calorie intake with calorie tracking, have an eating-disorder or other mental health disorder, have medical problems such as diabetes or hormone-related disorders, or needs more in-depth assistance, encourage your client to see a registered dietitian! They can create a more specific meal plan (including what to eat, when, how much, etc.) and monitor your client’s health more closely.

By educating these clients on the basic concepts of nutrition before they see a registered dietitian, they are more likely to understand any instructions they are given, how to ask good questions about their care, and can think more critically about what they want to achieve.

Meal Planning with Trainerize

I encourage all trainers who implement meal planning through Trainerize to consider education along with, or in-lieu of, a specific meal plan for their clients. In my experience this can help your clients develop a healthy relationship with food long-term and they are more likely to learn the skills they need to maintain a healthy bodyweight for life!

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Rain Burkeen

Rain is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, a member of the European Register of Exercise Professionals, and the owner of the Danish fitness firm POP Fitness. After being involved in competitive sports and gymnastics for over two decades and experiencing the damaging effects this can have on self-esteem and self-worth, Rain has developed her own philosophy, “Passion Over Prestige”. This encourages others to make lifelong habits based on self-love and a passion for a healthy life; rather than on damaging concepts which focus on perfection. She hopes to inspire people of all ages to find their own unique passion for fitness and health.

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