If you do not want to follow the provided meal plans, however still want to achieve the same results and learn about the program, you can do so and freestyle the program.
The program is based off food groups. Each day you are encouraged to eat a set amount of food units per day, e.g. 2 units of fruit a day (please keep in mind that 1 unit is not always the same as 1 serve).
If you adhere to this basic principle, then you can structure your eating in any way that works for you.
Firstly, note your daily unit level, as this is what you need to meet each day:
If you are on level 1, you need to meet the units of each food group per day. If level 2, then the level 2 units and level 3, the level 3 units.
Note: Your menu plan each day provides you with the meals to meet these requirements per day, that is the focus of the program, ensuring that you eat a wide variety of foods from each food group per day for nutritional adequacy, health and weight loss.
When freestlying, you need to do the same, ensuring that you meet the daily requirements (units) with what you are eating.
We do have a basic template that reinforces this, it indicates a possible breakdown of the units per day that you could use.
You can also find this here.
When freestyling, you need to check off that you are eating your daily units of Meat/protein, breads/cereals, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats/oils. As long as you are getting all of these serves in each day that is the most important thing.
You can simply eat foods from those food groups to meet each unit, or you can make your own meals using a range of units like the template above.
The Food & Exercise tracker would come in handy if doing so, as you can search any food to see what one unit would be.
Also take a look at making combos for your own recipes, these are easy ways to track recipes that are not in the program, or recipes of your own creation. See here for further information.
If you need some extra information on food groups, and examples of what 1 unit is for all food groups, see here.
A great way to keep on track when freestyling is to keep a unit checklist like the one below. You can do this when planning recipes and ticking off what you include in them, or simple if you had a unit e.g a latte with milk.
See a great resource that further outlines how to freestyle from our dietitian Pennie. She outlines how best to freestyle and keep in line with the program.
This video can be found here.
If you have any questions be sure to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org