Roadmap to Diet Success

Protocol Meal Planning Helps You Do What You Say You Will Do

July 21, 2022 Season 1 Episode 8
Roadmap to Diet Success
Protocol Meal Planning Helps You Do What You Say You Will Do
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 8: Protocol Meal Planning Helps You Do What You Say You Will Do

Walk through the process of Protocol meal planning so that you can get to the point where just thinking about what you might eat in a day is all you will need to stick to your eating plan and intentions. Learn how to build awareness so that, while you might start out weighing, measuring and tracking your food, you eventually confidently leave the shackles of diet prison behind by following this step-by-step process. Protocol - or template - meal planning is a way to build up small wins until you are confidently doing what you say you will do. It gives you a lot of rope, but not enough to hang yourself!

Make sure to download the free guide which has breakfast and lunch worksheets to give you ideas on how to plan your meals, and will be sure to get you out of any meal planning rut you might sometimes find yourself in.

1:14.     Personal Story
5:26.     Build Yourself a realistic and manageable roadmap
5:36.     What mistakes are we making?
6:36.     Why are we making these mistakes?
8:10.     What is the cost of making these mistakes?
8:57.     Calling out a new way of doing things
13:25.   Protocol meal planning
14:15.   The Evolution of Protocol planning
14:33.   Early protocol planning
18:37.   Next step planning
21:52.   Most experienced protocol planning
24:57.    Begin this process for yourself
25:46.    4th level of protocol planning
27:26.    This week's actionable coaching advice
30:58.     Special offer
33:50.     Episode 9, coming up

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Episode #: 8Protocol Meal Planning Helps You Do What You Say You Will Do

You’re Listening to the Roadmap to Diet Success Podcast, Episode # 8, Protocol Meal Planning Helps You Do What You Say You Will Do.

 "Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Breaking Free From Diet Prison, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl! 

 Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or services, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!

1:14.    Personal  Story  

I am going to tell you some of my story and, if you are lifelong dieter, I bet you relate to it.

o   In the first episode I told you about being taken to a diet doctor when I was about 13 years old. My awareness that people thought I needed to diet came long before that, but I will make this the marker of my first official attempt at a professional diet. If I am not mistaken, it was an exchange-type diet where how much of each category of food was regimented.

o   I was a member of Weight Watchers at the age of 16. Again, the food for the day was weighed and measured. And let me tell you, there was no such thing as bonus Points that they have in more recent renditions of the program.

o   And speaking about renditions of the Weight Watchers program, I went through it all. If you remember a little yellow booklet and rules like liver once a week, fish three times a week, mustard only – no ketchup, and god forbid, mayonnaise, then you are indeed a lifetime dieter.

o   Let’s just say it was all weighing, measuring, counting and tracking.

o   I did the Richard Simmons deck of cards – still weighing, measuring and counting, but it seemed a little looser than Weight Watchers style, even though you were still eating a prescribed diet. It was like a medically supervised exchange program, but a little more fun.

o   Not all diets involved weighing and measuring food, or even meal planning. Some quantities of some foods were limited such as with South Beach that allowed during Phase 1 of the diet, a daily choice of four Brazil nuts, eight Macadamia nuts, 20 small peanuts or 30 dry-roasted pistachios.

o   I have used a lot of the calorie counting Apps such as My Fitness Pal, SparkPeople, Lose It, etc. where what I ate and how much I ate was in my own hands, but it still involved a lot of counting, measuring and tracking.

o   Food-type diets, such as Keto, Paleo, Primal and Mediterranean eliminate certain foods. As you probably know by now, I am a Keto coach and had great success myself with bringing down my fasting insulin and blood sugar levels, so there is a place for some of these eating styles.

o   Some diets are very well-intentioned but did not address the psychological reasons we eat. An example of this would be “Eat This Not That.” 

o   Some well-intentioned psychological diets did not give enough guidance about what to eat, such as those coming from sources such as “Think Yourself Thin” and “Thin from Within.”

o   After all these years, I knew there had to be an approach that brought everything into play. In my course, “Breaking Free From Diet Prison,” I address the three essential pillars necessary for sustainable weight loss: Education that prepares you for success, Practical Applications that help you with situations you face every day, and Mindfulness Practices that address helping you with the psychology of losing weight.

o   But I think one of the most important lessons I teach is Protocol Meal Planning, and that is what I am talking about in this episode. It helps you keep your commitment to eat what you want to eat, but does not have to involve weighing, measuring and tracking.

o   I found that I could be free from the dogma of usual dieting while still keeping a foot in awareness. And that is what I want to share with you today.

5:26.   It’s important to build yourself a realistic and manageable roadmap for meals – one day at a time.

 5:36. What mistakes are we making?

o   The biggest mistake that we dieters make is thinking that we cannot trust ourselves. 

o   We also make the mistake of thinking that it is the food only, not taking into account practical roadblocks, psychological roadblocks, and the fact that there are certain things on the front end that would better prepare you for success. By front end I mean understanding WHY you are doing what you are doing – such as the role of carbohydrates in insulin and fat storage, or being well-prepared for a new eating style.

o   We also put too much stock in commercial diet plans, thinking that they know what is best for us. If we are so out of control that we need some guidance or have never tried to lose weight before, then some plans have their place. But they are not – and should not be – lifelong. 

 6:36.   Why are we making these mistakes?

o   We make the first mistake because we never learn that we should realize that failure is just feedback, and in that sense, it is progress.

o   Once you realize that a lot of your dieting attempts have been in the approach you take and not your personal failure, you can learn to trust yourself to make the best choices for your own lifestyle and body, and food likes and dislikes. 

o   We make these mistakes because the diet industry brainwashes us to believe that we are machines and robots.

o   A lot of approaches that you have taken in the past did not offer much help with the practicalities in your life – like packing lunch for work, cooking for a family or eating on the road.

o   They did not offer help with the psychological side of things such as learning the difference between a craving and an urge and how to work through both.

o   They lead you to believe that it is the food only and that if you can’t follow a certain food list, then something is wrong with you.

o   Remember what I said in Episode #1, that the biggest myth is “Calories in – Calories out” and that all calories are the same, or that your lettuce is the same as my lettuce. A lot of programs are based on this and it is not a truth.

 8:10     What is the cost of making these mistakes?

o   The number one cost of making these mistakes is that you have self-doubt, negative-self talk, and a defeatist attitude toward losing weight. Yes, you might be all excited to start a new commercial plan, but the time it takes for the disillusion to set in gets shorter and shorter.Personally, in my last few rounds of Weight Watchers, I did not make it through 2 days. In one case, I'm not sure I even made it to dinner of the first day.

o   The cost is that you never trust yourself. 

o   However, You have the answers, my friend, you really do.

 8:57.   And so, I want to call out a new way of doing things and this is my Protocol Meal Planning.

·       First of all, what is a protocol?

§  A protocol is simply a system of rules or a procedure of behavior. That’s it! In the case of protocol meal planning, you may have a rule about having a starch only once a day – or none at all. You may have a procedure of always having a salad at lunch or fruit for dessert.

§  It is whatever you want it to be, not what a commercial diet or diet program tells you to eat.

§  Your protocol is resilient. Maybe your protocol is that when you have a day that has gone haywire, that you just start with your next best meal. You never punish yourself. Promise me you won’t do that.

§  Your protocol is flexible. Perhaps when you are babysitting grandchildren you have certain foods or you have a protocol for days that you are flat-out busy with appointments and obligations. You don’t have to do things in detail. The first one might be: When I am babysitting and there is McD’s or Mac n’cheese involved, I will have XYZ. That way when you have a day like that you always know what you will be having or what boundaries you will set. Maybe you don’t have to figure it out every single time. With the second situation when you are busy all day, you can say, on a day full of meetings, “I know I cannot sit and eat a salad for lunch, those mornings for breakfast I will have extra protein that will hold me.” My personal favorite was a hamburger or tuna salad. I know for a lot of people the thought of eating that turns your stomach, but I’m telling you what worked for me. I would love to fry up a hamburger for breakfast especially if I knew I had a long day and couldn’t stop for lunch. Anyway, you can also say to yourself, “I will pack a cooler with cheese, veggies and fruit for my commute home.” 

o   Protocol, or template meal planning that you can also call it, is my most favorite way of meal planning. 

o   It ultimately requires no weighing, measuring or tracking.

o   It does, however, assume that, if you are doing something like Keto or Low Carb, that you do weigh, measure and track at the beginning until you learn the carbohydrate gram counts for all of your favorite foods you are eating.

o   However, you will eventually learn when enough is enough. 

o   By the way, I always check new foods and make no assumptions. 

o   Ultimately, you need only to eat to your hunger scale.

o   But first, let’s build an awareness of what you like to eat in a day, and what meals might become daily no-brainer meals for you. For me it is a breakfast I love, and my big salad for lunch.

o   Going back to the beginning for me, when I had a salad for instance, I also listed the types of greens and other vegetables, the dressing, nuts, feta cheese and olives. 

o   But eventually it just became MY SALAD. 

o   As you use protocol meal planning more and more, it will become easier and easier to make choices based on your new knowledge and awareness, and it will also become second nature to trust yourself. 

o   You will be off that dang roller coaster and out of diet prison forever. I promise! 

o   And, my friend, you will not even have to do the protocol planning once you get the hang of things.

13:25.  At the beginning, I did protocol meal planning a few days at a time so that I could look it over to make sure I was eating enough variety.

It enabled me to keep track of whether I was eating the same things all the time.

o   When I was following Keto, I could also look at a meal and realize that it would need butter or a cream sauce or a side vegetable to fill out the Keto profile.

o   Sometimes I would make a note that I needed to try a new recipe or two.

o    I found it different from regular meal planning because by the time I got the hang of it, it was just an outline and that is all I needed. 

o   I could size up a meal choice and know if it would fit perfectly into my day or even any week.

 14:15.  Here are some examples of the evolution of my protocol planning.

 14:33.  Early protocol planning:  

o   My early protocol planning was like regular meal planning, but it allowed me to move toward what you will see in the second stage. 

o   In my earlier Keto protocols (you can also use this method for any eating style!). I am just sharing here the way I did it for keto. In my earlier keto protocols I included the protein, fat and carbohydrate count. 

o   Eventually, I counted only carbohydrates if a food was an add-on like the nuts or salad dressing, a snack item like cheese wisps or a recipe where the carbs are accounted for. 

o   For any of you interested in Keto, in my book, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, I outlined three levels of Keto. I did this particular protocol planning on Level 3 of Keto where I already no longer counted leafy green and above-ground vegetables. 

o   When I first started out with this early protocol planning, I counted protein, fat and carbohydrates.

o   This is an example of a day’s plan: (And remember this was just the early stage so I was still writing down quantities. Because I was doing Keto I also made note of Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates. So absolutely, I was tracking, but, if you are not doing something where counting like this is essential, just writing down the foods with or without measurements is enough. The transcript for this episode will have the macros if you are interested.

§  Breakfast:     2 mugs of coffee with 2 TBS heavy cream each; 2 eggs scrambled in 1 TBS butter; Chopped mushrooms, leeks and peppers, baby spinach, 4 strips of bacon

                        Protein: 26.4 Fat: 57.4.   Carbohydrates: 2.9

 §  Lunch:  Salad with 2TBS chopped walnuts, 6 olives, 1 oz. feta cheese, 4 cherry tomatoes, 2 TBS Ranch dressing, 2 oz cubed salami 

                        Protein: 12.9  Fat: 51.9.   Carbohydrates: 12.3 

 §  Dinner:  Oven “fried” chicken, small salad with 1 TBS blue cheese dressing; string beans with 1 TBS butter

                        Protein: 48    Fat: 40.5   Carbohydrates: <1

 §  Snack 1:  Mug of broth with 1 TBS butter; 10 cheese wisps

                        Protein: 7       Fat: 7  Carbohydrates: <1

 §  Snack 2:  ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup mixed berries

                         Protein: 12.7 Fat: 3  Carbohydrates: 9

 o   A protocol day like this would let me see where it needed some tweaking. 

o   As much as we want to adhere to the basics of any eating plan – even the ones we make ourselves – to get the better results, remember: we are not machines and can vary a little bit day to day as long as things even out for the week. 

o   Now I'm telling you, I want you to break free from diet prison, I don't want you to I don't want you to build the bars stronger. But once you have an awareness – and this is the one I did is specifically for keto, because you really do have to keep track of protein, fat and carbohydrates when you're starting. 

o   But let's say you're starting with calories, you can do the same thing and put in calories. You might say, “Oh, I didn't know such and such had so many calories.” And that's where this is helpful. I'm not asking you to track weigh and measure forever and ever. But this first stage of awareness is what you will find very helpful to get you to the next step.

 18:37.  My next step protocol planning 

o   This was where I was just sticking to a Yes/No list and eventually I did not even add the carbohydrate gram count. 

o   I knew from several days, if not weeks, of the early protocol planning, approximately what my other macros would be. I just needed to double check to make sure my carbs were low.

o   This second tier of protocol planning went like this:

§  Breakfast:     Coffee, scrambled eggs with vegetables and bacon.    (Carbs: 2.9)

§  Lunch:            MY salad.   (Carbs: 12.3) 

§  Dinner:  Oven fried chicken with side vegetable and butter.  (Carbs: <1)

§  Snack 1:  Mug of broth with butter. See, I didn’t even measure the butter! 10 cheese wisps.  (Carbs: <1)

§  Snack 2:  Plain Greek yogurt with berries.  (Carbs: 9)

§  I had a special little bowl that I like to serve in this. So eventually I didn't even measure out that Greek yogurt. I knew that if I use that bowl and took a handful of blueberries. I knew what I was getting. I didn't have to weigh and measure it every single time. 

o   And I'm going to do an aside here just to tell you my life and Weight Watchers

o   When we were finally allowed potatoes in Weight Watchers - I do believe three points was 10 ounces, uncooked unbaked, russet potato. I had a food scale. And I brought it to me, I brought it with me to the grocery store it and I laid it across the top of my purse. I took russet potatoes, and I measured them. And I usually could get one that was exactly 10 ounces. And I had a bag of 10-ounce potatoes just for me. And a bag of random sized potatoes for the rest of the family. Okay, this is my life. This is what this is what compelled me to find a way not to weigh and measure and track and count. You don't need to be going to the grocery store with a food scale. Okay. So, I'm trying to think how to explain this. But that weighing and measuring at the beginning, because then I could have a potato in my hand and say, “Oh, it's a 10-ounce potato,” I went home weighed it, and  it was a 10- ounce potato. So my awareness led to where I was eating what I was wanting to be eating. But I'm telling you take it a step further. Don't even worry if it's 10 ounces of raw potato, if it looks like a good portion, if your hunger scale allows it and if your meal allows it and if your plan allows it, enjoy it. But I was really crazy with the weighing and measuring. And that's sort of what brought me to this point. And I found actually, my friends, that I am not the only person who did things like that. So, if you did, please follow me. Let's keep going with this protocol of meal planning, because I'm going to get you to where it's just an outline.

 21:52.  Most experienced protocol planning 

o   This is where I would like you all to be so you can keep an awareness of what you are eating but be totally free from the prison of weighing, measuring and tracking.

o   It might be just the awareness that you are eating a meal with your hunger scale at a 4 to 6. A lot of people make their protocol plan like that. They say, “I am going to eat 4 to 6, and I am going to eat whatever I want.” And they don’t even write it down but that is their protocol. That is their system of behavior. They eat when they know they are hungry enough, and they stop when they know they are satisfied enough.

o   This third tier of protocol planning went like this, just as an outline so I would be able to make sure I had the right food available:

§  Breakfast:     Coffee, scrambled eggs with vegetables and bacon.    

§  Lunch:            MY salad.   

§  Dinner:  Oven fried chicken with side vegetable and butter.  

§  Snack 1:  Mug of broth with butter; cheese wisps.  (Notice I didn’t say 10 cheese wisps this time. I knew myself that just a handful was satisfying enough)

§  Snack 2:  Plain Greek yogurt with berries.  

§  It sounds the same on this podcast as the level before, but at this point is was mostly just an outline while the one before I did track my carbs (but not the other macros).

 o   THIS is the TRUE lifestyle. You are no longer in diet prison!

o   Just outlining the day like this is not diet mentality at all. It’s just helpful because you can make sure you have the food you want in the house, it will help if you are packing lunch to go to work or if you are going to be out for the day and it would be helpful to pack a mug of hot broth in a thermos and take a baggie of those cheese wisps because you know you will get hungry and it’s better to be prepared than go through a drive-through to grab something.

 24:57. To begin this process for yourself 

o   It is best to treat it like “real” meal planning and count whatever your goal eating style is:

§  For instance, for Keto you would count protein, fat and carbohydrates 

§  For low carb, you would count just your carbohydrates

§  If you would like to stay within a calorie, glycemic load or glycemic index range, count those

§  It is just a first step that builds awareness

§  When you have a handle on, and knowledge of, what you are eating in a day you are ready to move on. 

26:00. I am going to even give you a 4th level of Protocol Planning that was not included in my book.

o   When you go to bed at night or wake up in the morning, give some thought to your day. 

o   It might look like this:

§  I am going to have eggs, fruit and two coffees for breakfast.

§  I know we are having pizza at work tomorrow so I will have two slices but bring my own side salad because I know I can’t order one (or plan to order it when the office puts in the order), and if I have that side salad, I won’t eat 3 or 4 slices like I usually do.

§  Because I have gone heavy on the carbs or calories at lunch, I will plan for that roast chicken tonight with steamed vegetables and just half of a baked potato.

§  Oh, I forgot that we have left over birthday cake, and I would really like a slice of that for dessert, so I’ll nix the potato.

o   Write this stuff out but learn to trust that if you at least think about it, you will make smart and guided decisions.

o   Eventually you will just set your intentions in your mind and put aside the pencil and paper.


·       You guessed, it: Protocol planning

o   Take out a notebook or a few sheets of paper on a clipboard.

o   If you don’t know which type of eating style you want to approach that’s okay. For now, just plan out a day with or without calories, macros or serving sizes. I just want to encourage you to shine some awareness onto what you are eating.

o   No judgement, no thoughts about it. Say you know you are having a bowl of Lucky charms for breakfast and pizza for lunch. If that’s what it is, that’s fine. Just write it down so that you have an awareness.

o   If you have any challenges, I want those to go on the top of the paper. For instance, are you going to a party or having an office luncheon? Are you picking up the grandkids after their activities and your dinner will be delayed? Are you not feeling well and might want to include some of your comfort foods?

o   That’s another thing that commercial plans don’t always consider. Sometimes there are days you cannot follow what they want you to eat.

o   If you are following a certain food plan (yours or someone else’s) see where there is an intersection between what the plan wants you to eat, what you have in the house to eat and what you really want to eat. 

o   Plan this out the night before or in the morning.

o   You can be as specific as you want to be, such as “2 eggs and 1 piece of toast” (although eventually you will eat to your hunger and satiety cues, so you won’t be putting down quantities). Or, you can make it as general as “grilled protein, a salad, and some type of starch.”

o   The point of this week’s action item is to bring awareness to 

§  what you want, 

§  in what quantities you think want it, and 

§  if it is enough or not enough.

o   You are not going to diet or restrict this week. You are just going to put some food choices and eating awareness into your day.

o   This is the first step to trusting yourself. 

o   This is the first step to start accumulating small wins.

o   This is the first step to your success.

For this episode, I am sharing with you the Breakfast and Lunch Planning Guides that are in my books and meal planning e-book. These are just ideas to get you started and perhaps out of breakfast and lunch ruts you may be in. Remember, to make a protocol meal plan, just pick a few choices for each meal. You can add as much as you like – you don’t have to eat it all if you find you are not hungry! Also remember, just to start out, it is okay to put quantity and even a measurement such as calories or macros, but your ultimate goal is to have only an outline. Remember, we are trying to get out of diet prison, not make the bars stronger!

These worksheets are available at The direct link is in the show notes and transcript.

 Also, while you are on my website to get the guide, be sure to check out the blogs and recipes. I have so many great low carb summertime recipes such as BBQ baked chicken, fauxtato salad and coleslaw.

 And, I want to ask you: How would it feel to hear your name featured on my podcast and shared with my community? When you leave a 5-star review, you’ll get the chance to be featured on air as our next listener of the week! Just scroll down in your Apple app, or wherever you listen to this podcast, tap the 5 stars and leave a sentence or two letting me know how this show has impacted your life or how you expect it to. Your review helps others find the show, and I would be so grateful to receive these reviews, especially because I am just starting out. Positive reviews by my listeners are so important.

 By the way!! If you’ve ever got a question you’d like to ask me or share a topic idea that you would like to have me cover on a future episode, don’t be a stranger! I hang out on Instagram @Roadmap to Diet Success, or you can contact me through my Facebook page, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, which I would love you to Like and Join. I always look forward to hearing from listeners like you. You can also email me directly…

 33:50. Next Week’s Episode

Coming up in the next episode I will be talking about making good food decisions when you are away from home. The summer travel season is upon us and there will be lots of travel and backyard parties, as we celebrate the first summer without having major restrictions because of Covid-19.

 So go share the show with your friends, let them know that’s coming up in the next episode, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison with my Roadmap to Diet Success.

 Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.