Meal planning is one of the things about athleticism that I hate the most. Seriously. It sounds super easy, right? Pick out what you want to eat for the week, get the groceries, maybe even prep some things, and then the meals all week are planned and ready.
I suppose it does sound good. No wondering at the last minute what you will eat, no looking in the fridge/cupboard/pantry to find no food, no last-minute runs to fast-food chains.
There are a number of problems with it, for an athlete with epilepsy. Especially one that does not drive. Getting an entire week worth of kale, quinoa, broccoli, eggs, etc., is heavy to carry. Unless you are really nearby a grocery store, it requires multiple trips or a taxi to get home with all the bounty (of course, after walking to the store first, however long that takes). Speaking of the taxi, there’s also the cost. Not just the taxi but also the food. Buying food for an entire week, especially healthy food, isn’t necessarily an option. Healthy food costs more than unhealthy food. Generally, buying food costs more than not buying food. Skipping a few meals makes up for the cost of the taxi that I needed to get home in the first place with the groceries. There’s just no “running out to the grocery store to pick up a last-minute ingredient that I forgot” option when the ingredient is going to cost $5.00 but the taxi will be $15.00. I’m a super organized person but I can’t say that there are never times that I forget to pick something up, especially if I was planning for an entire week.
There’s also the issue of interest. I can meal plan out perfectly so that I am making the most efficient use of the food I buy. I can make a large dish of couscous salad so I’m set for lunch and dinner for three days. I could have kale quiche for breakfast for two days and hard-boiled eggs for the other three days. This is only assuming that I am completely willing to eat the same meal for 2-3 days in a row.
Where epilepsy comes into play here is that I am required to have a certain amount of fat between my brain and skull. I assume that this is to prevent concussions, and I have absolutely no idea how to measure if I am at the right amount. The point being, I can’t eat only kale and granola. I can’t skip a couple days of meals during a week. I have to include certain fats and I want to make sure that they are protecting my brain, not just making it so I can’t fit into my leggings. This adds an entirely different category of food requirements that I need to include.
Delivery service? There’s no contact so if they can’t find the item, they replace it or provide a refund. There’s also no guarantee that produce is going to be fresh. The delivery fee offsets the cost of a taxi home if it means I can make my own decisions in the store. Evo Car Share? Can’t work if there’s no driver’s license.
I live near a butcher, so I can get really great quality meat easily. There is also nearby a place that sells cheese, and a place that sells seafood. However, for every other thing a person could possibly want (produce, yogurt, juice) or generally need (laundry detergent), that’s not easily available. Why is this a post? Maybe I just wanted to justify why I can’t make “Meal Planning” a New Years Resolution. Maybe I wanted to emphasize the challenges for people with disabilities have in simple actions, like getting groceries (especially healthy options). Maybe I wanted to emphasize the costs associated with groceries, time, energy, cost, and hope that people are a little more compassionate about the choices other people have to make. Maybe less judge-y. To the person at the grocery store with their cart full of healthy, fresh groceries and chose to comment on my basket with ramen, peanut butter, and rice cakes… I hope you never find yourself in a place where the choice is food or medication.