How to Choose The Right Meal Plan
When it comes to selecting a meal plan or diet, there are several factors that come into play. You should consider what will work for you long-term and reduce the risk of you falling back into unhealthy patterns. What you select will also depend on your individual health goals and whether or not you will stick to this plan outside of meal kit deliveries.
You will also need to keep an eye on how your selection affects your physical and emotional health. Are you getting enough calories to sustain yourself throughout the day? Do you dread mealtimes because you’re not enjoying what you’re eating, or do you look forward to delicious meals? Do you feel tired and sluggish after eating or satisfied and energized? You want your foods to fuel your mind, body, and spirit!
This article will outline how you can easily select a LifeChef meal plan that’s right for you and your health needs!
What meal plans does Life Chef offer and how do they differ?
There are multiple diet options available. We at LifeChef, have curated six of the most common and healthy different dietary options for you to choose from. You can select one of 7 plans or create your personalized menu that you are sure to love! They are all healthy and nutritious and are catered to various individual needs and preferences. The diets we offer cover foundational needs in order to promote optimal health and support bio-individuality. LifeChef options include:
- The Mediterranean diet
- The Vegetarian diet
- The Vegan diet
- The Paleo diet
- The Keto diet
- The Low Carbohydrate diet
- The Diabetes Friendly diet
- The DASH/Low Sodium diet
- The Dairy Free diet
- The Gluten Free diet
Whether you’re a seasoned expert on all things health-related or just starting your journey to discovering nutrition, we’ll break down the basics of each plan so you have a reference for your better understanding.
This diet is based on the healthy eating habits of people who live in Mediterranean countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, and France. It is a balanced diet that includes a lot of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil, with a lower intake of meat and dairy products. One of the main focuses of this diet is to eat whole foods instead of processed and packaged foods with additives, preservatives and poor quality and unrecognizable ingredients. Reasons to choose this plan:
- You are looking to clean up your diet choices and limit processed foods.
- You are looking for an inclusive meal plan that is flexible based on your preferences and can be simple to follow long term.
- You want to include plant-based choices while keeping fish and animal products in your diet.
- You are looking to improve heart health, metabolic health, cognitive health, and longevity.
The Vegetarian Diet
Vegetarian diets include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and sometimes fish, eggs, and dairy. Vegetarians avoid meat and poultry. Because vegetarian diets can vary in the foods you include and exclude, LifeChef provides diverse options to meet your needs. We offer a balanced vegetarian diet rich in vegetables, plant proteins, whole grains, nuts, and healthy plant-based fats such as olive oil and coconut. Vegetarian diets tend to be higher in carbohydrates because they are primarily plant-based. It is essential to maintain a balanced, healthy vegetarian diet to feel your best. Reasons to choose this plan:
- You prefer to eat primarily plant-based meals.
- You have personal, ethical, or religious reasons.
- You would like to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
The Vegan Diet
The vegan diet is exclusively made up of plant foods such as vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits. Vegan meals do not include foods that come from animals, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. LifeChef provides balanced vegan meal options with plant proteins, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and healthy plant fats. The vegan diet is a fairly restrictive diet, so to compensate for the deficiencies, vegans are often advised to add multiple supplements such as omega 3, vitamin B12, and choline. Similar to the vegetarian diet, vegan meals tend to be higher in carbohydrates because it is exclusively plant-based. It is different from the vegetarian diet because it leaves less flexibility to choose meals that contain an animal product.Reasons to choose this plan:
- You prefer to eat plant foods exclusively.
- You have personal, ethical, or religious reasons.
- You would like to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
The Paleo Diet
A paleo diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds — foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago: these foods include dairy products, legumes, and grains. Life Chef Paleo meals consist mainly of high-quality animal and fish proteins with vegetable sides. Reasons to choose this plan:
- You enjoy eating meats, fish, and vegetables at your meals.
- You are looking to improve inflammation, gut symptoms, pain, fatigue, or autoimmune symptoms through potential diet triggers.
- You are exploring or avoiding possible food sensitivities or intolerances.
- You are looking to improve insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
The Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that involves moderate amounts of protein, drastically reduced carbohydrate intake, and replacing calories with healthy fats. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, the body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for fuel. This diet focuses on eating non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, omega-3s from fish, and a moderate protein intake. For the most part, it excludes grains, beans, lentils, starchy vegetables, and most fruits. LifeChef supports a more flexible keto-friendly approach to increase fiber intake for overall health and more customizable options to fit your individual needs. Reasons to choose this plan:
- You are looking to improve blood sugar and cravings.
- You would like to reduce inflammation and promote neurological health.
- You enjoy eating mainly non-starchy vegetables with ample healthy fats and moderate protein.
The Low-Carb Diet
A low-carb diet limits carbohydrates primarily from refined, simple carbohydrate sources such as sugars, sweets, white pasta and bread, white rice, chips, and crackers. It also limits carbs coming from grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits. Instead of eating carbs, you focus on protein-rich whole foods, vegetables, and healthy fat. The carbs in a low-carb diet are not as restricted as the keto diet; you can still enjoy beans, lentils, a wider variety of fruits and whole grains, and root vegetables in moderation. Reasons to choose this plan:
- You are looking to improve blood sugar and insulin levels.
- You would like to improve heart health and brain health.
- You prefer to focus on eating vegetables, plant or animal proteins, and healthy fats while still including some other complex carbs and fruit.
You may have noticed weight loss was not included for reasons to choose these diets. The reason is that while each of these diets CAN promote weight loss if followed consistently and with balanced nutrition, it is also important to focus on how you FEEL. The results you see will also depend on where you are starting from and your unique bio-individuality. Tune into your energy, mental clarity, mood, and overall physical, mental, and social well-being.
When deciding which meal plan is right for you, you must remember that food is not just calories in and calories out; it is important to consider the quality and nutrient content of the foods you put into your body. What we eat impacts our health, including cardiovascular health, immune system, gut health, muscles and bones, hormones, brain chemistry, and detoxification systems. Eating a consistently healthy diet can lead to many physical and emotional health benefits!
What a healthy meal plan looks like
When placing an order with LifeChef, you will be selecting 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 or 18 meals at a time. At the minimum, 6, which is around one meal per week. What you eat at that meal, along with your other meals and snacks throughout the day, will impact the quality of your diet and the results you hope to achieve. LifeChef will give you suggestions but leaves the ultimate decision-making up to you. You should select diverse meals that will also promote nutrient density.
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to healthy eating. This depends on everyone’s individual goals. Some aim to lose weight, and others want to build muscle. Some people would like to address health issues they might have; others prefer to prevent them with a healthy diet and lifestyle. What you should be eating depends entirely on your personal needs and preferences.
Additionally, we always recommend consulting your doctor or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist before trying any new lifestyle changes. Your doctor or registered dietitian will be able to assess your individual needs to keep your body balanced and optimize your health. With so much conflicting information out there in regards to health and wellness, it is best to speak to a professional who will be able to guide you to better health in a way that is specific to you and your body. Think of it as a diet “prescription.”
Regardless of which meal plan you choose, you should aim to limit your intake of foods that don’t give your body the nutrients it requires to function properly. Limit refined grains like white bread, white pasta, and white flour, refined oils such as palm oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, and margarine, processed meats like deli meats and hot dogs, and added sugars like those found in pastries, sweets, sweetened beverages, ice cream, cookies, and doughnuts. Look for whole foods and ingredients that you are familiar with.
LifeChef meals aim for lower amounts of saturated fats and focus on using mono and polyunsaturated fats in order to promote heart and brain health. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in animal products such as beef, pork, poultry, full-fat dairy such as cheese, butter, and creams, as well as tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats can affect cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease. It is best to get a variety of fats and replace some saturated fats with mono and polyunsaturated fats coming from fish and plant sources such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
LifeChef meals are adaptable and flexible to meet your needs
LifeChef meals are customizable and able to fit several diet preferences, even if it is not a diet that is specifically listed. Perhaps you have heard of and maybe even tried numerous diet options that are out there. What is beneficial about LifeChef is that you can choose a provided baseline diet and modify your meal choices as needed.
Examples of modifiable popular diet options include the DASH diet, MIND diet, Volumetric diet, and Flexitarian diet.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) focuses on increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and limited intake of red meat, salt, and added sugar. DASH was originally developed and studied as a diet to reduce high blood pressure. LifeChef’s Mediterranean diet options can fit into these food suggestions because it aims for lower levels of sodium and avoids adding sugars to meals in order to promote optimal health. Try choosing LifeChef’s fish, beans, or lentils options as a majority of your protein components, and pair with a vegetable and whole grain side.
The Volumetric diet is focused on keeping you feeling full. The theory is that people feel full because of the types and amounts of food they eat — not because of the number of calories or the grams of fat, protein, or carbs. Volumetrics relies on foods with a low energy density and high water content, and fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as soups. Therefore, you can eat as much as you like and eliminate the feelings of hunger, fatigue, and depression that often accompany other low-calorie diets. LifeChef offers numerous vegetable options to choose from to increase volume from high water content and fiber foods to keep you feeling full. Try choosing two vegetable sides to fill up your plate, along with your protein choice, to adhere to the recommendations of this diet.
The Flexitarian diet is a more flexible approach to the vegetarian diet which means that you are primarily eating a plant-based diet but do not entirely cut out meat. The goal is to gain the benefits of vegetarian-style eating while not completely restricting yourself from animal products. Plant-based meals can range anywhere from 6 meals a week to 15+ meals a week (out of 21), depending on where you are starting from and your individual needs and preferences. LifeChef vegetarian meal options can be used to easily incorporate more plant-based meals without the hassle of learning new recipes and buying all of the ingredients. You can also use the Mediterranean meal options to provide animal proteins as desired.
The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets and stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The goal is to focus on promoting brain health, specifically reducing dementia and cognitive decline. Foods to eat include leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, fish, beans, and poultry. Foods to limit include butter and margarine, cheese, red meat, fried foods, pastries, and sweets. LifeChef specifically offers the Mediterranean diet, which covers what half of this diet is based on. We use olive oil in many of our recipes and avoid adding any sugars, high sodium, or deep-fried foods. You can focus your side dish choices to have more leafy greens and vegetables, as well as whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa. You can choose a variety of protein options, including beans, chicken, and fish, and avoid the red meat options in order to follow the MIND diet style of eating.
Benefits of LifeChef’s Meal Plans
So why should you select LifeChef as your meal kit delivery service? LifeChef designs, prepares, and delivers nutritious and delicious meals straight to your door.
At LifeChef, there are 4 factors that we prioritize with every order we receive:
We know it can be challenging to find meals that are both delicious and healthy, which is why we only use the highest quality ingredients for all of our meals. Every dish is non-GMO, preservative-free, and organic when essential! Our meals provide nutrition with maximum flavor!
LifeChef’s doctor and registered dietitian created an onboarding quiz to get to know your goals and palate better. Get expert meal recommendations tailored to your unique needs.
So many meal kit services send you randomly selected meals. This will never be something that we do. At LifeChef, you are in charge of what you order. With over 5,000 meal components to choose from, your meals will always be tailored to your personal taste. Only eat dishes that you love!
- Convenience & flexibility
Spend less time meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. Spend more time with your loved ones while we do the cooking for you! LifeChef delivers fresh meals (never frozen!), so all you have to do is heat it up and eat it up!
The journey to healthy living does not happen overnight. It starts with small steps and takes both time and consistency to see progress. As you continue along your health journey, your needs may change.
Now that you know us a little better, let’s explore the menu!