Many times, people start on the track of healthy eating, they hear about macros, and they think it's for them. They begin to count and then they realize quickly that it makes them obsessive, or they just don't like having to take the time to count. They email me that they are frustrated, and so I always say to stick for at least 3 weeks before making the official decision. Macro counting can be very daunting at first, and normally I refer them to this blog post HERE.
This explains some difficult things that happen as you are first starting to count and how to address those issues and make things a little easier. However, even after this, some people find that they really just don't like it. I have had to get used to this outlook because at first, and still admitably, I can't quite comprehend it. I had a fried Chickfila chicken sandwich last night, Wendys nuggets the day before, doughnuts the day before, and of course the rest of the day I had healthy meals. If my family goes out for seafood, pizza, fast food, or birthday parties, I'm able to join in on the fun without ever feeling like I compromise my goals. I know that many people eat in many different ways though, so I totally understand when you feel that macro counting is not for you.
So, then, what do you do?
I think that it's hard to quantify, which is fine but I think that many times people want me to create a program in that way and I find it very difficult with the very different needs of individual people. If there is a program that is created that has a specific meal plan for each person, then that just doesn't even make sense to me. There are VASTLY different needs for each person. I can say "Pick one carb, pick one protein" from this list type of thing, but again it most likely is not going to be near enough for some and way too much for others. So, I find that unfair to sell to people.
However, you can totally do this on your own and just eat to hunger every day in whole healthy foods. It's all about small changes in the right direction over time that lead to a healthy life, and one of those changes is making sure that you are getting a balanced diet. If you decide that macros are not for you, then just make sure that you are cognizant of the different food groups that you are consuming. What I mean by that is don't eat a diet full of only grilled chicken salads or only fruit or only almonds; it needs to be all three.
If you have protein pancakes for breakfast then throw some PB on top for fats. Fats are going to help you feel ever more satisfied than those protein pancakes alone. If you have a grilled chicken salad for lunch then make sure to have a piece of fruit and almonds as well. You will stay full longer preventing you from indulging in the afternoon. You should aim to eat smaller meals every 3 hours. Is there some rule of the body that means this will help you get results...No! Will this "speed up your metabolism"? No. It just simply is a good tool to help you not just have a free for all at 3 separate meals.
If you are like MOST people, you don't want to eat organic and healthy all of the time. Work hard, play hard. As someone who decides not to count macros, should you have a cheat meal each week? That's obviously for you to decide, but I'm a personal fan of not. I think that "cheat" has a bad connotation which leads to food anxieties. I believe in living every day at baseline normalcy because this should be a lifestyle not a restriction&deprivation on the weekdays to go crazy on the weekends. I want my clients to feel satisfied EVERY day.
To do this without counting, just be mindful again of the daily distribution and balance. If you have a doughnut at breakfast (or whenever), just know that it has a moderate amount of carb but a large percentage of fat, so if you go to dinner, I'd opt out of the steak and butter. If you want that steak though, then maybe enjoy a treat with carbs only earlier in the day. If you have pizza, then this is high fat so you want to aim for something like pasta with chicken for dinner. This is the method that Tanner follows, and that I'm trying to teach my brother to follow. It takes away from worrying about every morsel you put in your mouth, but still allows for treats. If you decide you want a full sugar soda, then you should skip pasta for dinner. That's two very carb heavy items in one day.
Obviously, aim for protein in all of those days as best as you can. It may sound bizarre but on days I'm not counting, I stop by Subway to get one of their grilled chicken salads as a snack, or I stop by Chickfila to get their grilled chicken nuggets or I carry tuna packets in my purse (don't judge me!). I'm not doing these things to restrict myself but rather to get that protein in to keep me satisfied therefore I can have an enjoyable dinner with family not tracking but will stop when I'm full because I'm satisfied the rest of the day. Sticking to a meal plan all comes back to satiety. You've got to be happy with what you are eating or you aren't going to want to continue. It's never about restriction. It's about being smart with your choices, letting go of food anxieties but also having discipline to pay attention and taking care of ourselves because it's so important for your overall general health and wellness.
I know this may seem vague, but I hope that it can helpful for those that decide counting is not for them!
With love and NO macros,