At some point, you are going to miss a meal on your plan. Life happens, and we end up in a situation without a pre-packed meal and our perfect diet streak is about to be ruined. However, this does not have to be the case if you make a plan A, B, C, D, and E.
Not all of us have predictable schedules that are so routine nothing sways them. I have clients who work sales jobs and drive from location to location. Their schedule has no routine at all. Some clients work health care and when an emergency arises they have to skip a meal. Some other clients just suck at planning and they need a quick fix. Here are several options to remedy the problem.
A. Overestimate Time
To avoid the problem in the first place, you have to plan way ahead. If you are headed out the door and know you will be gone for a certain amount of time, then you should know what meals you need to pack. But when the unexpected happens, and you can’t get back home for that next meal, you are out of luck. Just plan for the worst and bring that extra meal with you rather than thinking you will make it back home in time.
B. Shake Back Up Plan
Sometimes food access might not be the issue. You can have your food there, but you are so busy you just can’t eat it. This usually happens to people with very demanding jobs such as food service workers or doctors working in the inpatient setting. There is no way to sit down for a meal when you are running around with so much to do.
If this applies to you, always take a back-up shake. If you find yourself in this situation often, plan ahead. Pack a macronutrient matched shake that can be used in place of your solid food meal. A great option would be Animal Meal, which has a balanced macronutrient profile and is made from nutritious food sources. Another option is making your own shake by adjusting the amount of whey, olive oil/peanut butter, and oats/sweet potato powder for the macros you need to hit.
C. Portion Out the Missed Meal
There is no metabolic sorcery to eating 6 meals per day. A lot of this comes to personal preference and schedule. If you are going to miss one meal, you can take that meal and divide it out into your next meals. Let’s say you are out and miss your third meal of the day which was 40g protein, 60g carbs, and 15g fat. Now, you still have 2 meals left for the day. What you can do is divide all your macros by 2 and add that to the remaining meals. In this example, you will be adding 20g protein, 30g carbs, and 7.5g fat to meal 4 and 5 for the day. This is a simple solution, and the net result for the day is the same from a calorie intake perspective.
D. No Shake, No Problem
Now we enter the real crap situation. You have no meal packed, no back up shake packed, and hunger is on the rise. Time to find some macro matched food choices to save the day. This has happened to me on driving trips when I took way too long to get to my destination. I can stop at a gas station and make a meal work. A basic-flavored beef jerky is a good gas station protein source as long as you watch the sugar content. You can also usually find protein shakes. Some gas stations have deli meats, hard boiled eggs, and/or yogurt. Nuts for a fat source are available at almost every gas station, just make sure to count fats from your other protein and carbohydrate sources. For carbohydrate sources, you can pick fruit, rice cakes, pretzels, and/or granola bars.
E. Restaurant Fixes
This situation just happened to me last month. I was driving back home and didn’t have a meal. I didn’t want anything from a gas station and wanted to be quick. Chick-fil-A to the rescue. I looked up the nutrition facts and ordered two grilled chicken sandwiches. The macros totaled up to 58g protein, 72g carbs, 12g of fat. This was very close to the meal I was supposed to have. If you find yourself needing an option like this, find some places that have meals that work for your diet in advance. That way when you are out and need a meal, you just have to find a location.
I think it is very important to make a realistic plan from the start. Don’t make yourself a six meal, whole food-based plan if you know your job or schedule won’t permit it. The most successful diet is one that you can adhere to. If that means planning 4 meals per day over 6 meals, that’s fine. If you need to have two shakes per day over all solid meals, that’s okay too. This diet flexibility is very acceptable for the majority of people who aren’t planning to step on stage, and being able to stick to it will keep progress moving along.