On today’s episode, we have Talia Koren, who is the is the founder of Workweek Lunch, a subscription site dedicated to meal prep, basic cooking, and reducing food waste. Talia’s mission is to help busy people all over the world master easy, affordable, and time saving cooking solutions so they can spend less time doing dishes and more time living their best lives.
In this episode, we talk about:
- How Talia started Workweek Lunch
- Talia’s journey to Intuitive Eating
- Posting food pictures on social media
- Anticipatory eating
- The 4 biggest challenges in meal prepping
- Meal prepping with ADD/ADHD/low appetite/if you hate being in the kitchen
How Talia Started Workweek Lunch
Talia grew up with diet culture playing a huge role in her life, especially throughout college. After graduating, her second job was as a health writer at Elite Daily, which is a site that basically runs based on how many views it gets. Because of this, she was pressured to pump out as much content as she possibly could.
Especially when writing about health, overproducing low quality content was a big issue. There wasn’t enough time to spend on research, so she was basically regurgitating information that was seen as ‘trending’ online. There was no real rhyme or reason behind what she was told to post other than rolling with what was picking up traction on the Internet. She soon realized she was on the wrong side of things, and decided that she didn’t want to be a part of it. She then became a freelance writer and started Workweek Lunch at the same time.
In the beginning of Workweek Lunch, Talia still had a diet lens on life, but it was never the main focus of the company. It wasn’t until she discovered Christy Harrison’s podcast in January of 2018 that she started to embrace Intuitive Eating. Soon after, she announced on her Instagram account that she was going in a new direction with her messaging and people loved it. Ever since then, Workweek Lunch has had an Intuitive Eating focus, which has been really rewarding for Talia.
Talia’s Relationship With Food Before Intuitive Eating
Talia started meal prepping before she even knew it was a thing. She knew she needed to save money, so she started batch cooking meals to minimize her food budget. When she started meal prepping, she still attached food and cooking to health and thinness.
For Talia, being as thin as she possibly could be was connected with respect and power. She thought that being thin and attractive to men was the main way to get there.
It wasn’t until she was working at Elite Daily that she started looking at her diet and realizing that she needed to stop chasing thinness. She didn’t know about Intuitive Eating yet, but she knew that there was no room for diet culture in her life anymore. She recognized that she could gain the respect of her colleagues by just being good at her job and by being herself. Getting respect for things that had nothing to do with her looks helped her see that she didn’t need to manipulate her food anymore. After a while, she let the thin ideal go.
At this point, meal prep finally became something she could do but not worry about anymore. Meal prep can fit in anywhere in the Intuitive Eating journey- it can be especially helpful at the beginning when you’re transitioning from dieting and need the extra bit of security that comes from meal planning while also enabling flexibility.
Balancing Posting Food Pictures & Intuitive Eating
On her Instagram page, Talia recently posted a side-by-side picture of a piece of regular pizza and a rice cake pizza. The main point of the post was to show people that they don’t need to pretend they’re the same thing. If you’re craving a rice cake with cheese and sauce on it, make the rice cake pizza. If you’re craving pizza, eat pizza. She wasn’t demonizing rice cake pizza; it was about showing how there’s a time and place for each. Her old followers got it, but her new followers took it as a great pizza substitute and completely spun it the wrong way. And then, other calorie-focused pages took hold of it and started reposting it with the caption! On top of that, the comment section turned into a battleground about all kinds of things.
The people who pick fights about food pictures are people who are struggling with their own stuff and feel that you’re directly harming them. Although there is a certain degree of using your brand responsibly, at a certain point you’re going to trigger someone who is struggling with their own comfort level around what they’re eating. When people feel insecure about their own diet and you post something, of course they’re going to take it as a personal attack.
Talia’s goal with these food posts is to get people thinking. She’s not a dietitian or a nutrition expert, but she wants to plant the seed that you can separate health and weight.
Meal Planning & Anticipatory Eating
One major theme in Intuitive Eating is anticipatory eating. This means understanding your needs before you need them so you can prepare in advance and you’re not left super hungry or frantically trying to find what to eat.
In Talia’s Facebook group, people are commenting saying that meal planning is really helping them with Intuitive Eating. They are strengthening their connection to food through cooking and are feeling more relaxed around food because of anticipatory eating- they are actually looking forward to what they’ve cooked.
Anticipatory eating in Intuitive Eating is all about thinking about what you’ve been craving, what sounds good to you, and making a plan to include those foods or meals into your week. It’s about honoring your body with foods that both fuel you and taste amazing.
The 4 Biggest Challenges in Meal Prepping
What do you make? How do you plan? How do you shop? What if you don’t like it? What if something comes up and you can’t eat it? Meal prepping has a lot of components to it and it can be a lot for people to handle. Talia goes over the biggest challenges that people have when they start their meal prepping journeys.
1. Thinking it’s super easy & setting yourself up for failure.
There are so many articles out there like ‘How to Meal Prep in 5 Steps,’ but it’s so much harder than that. It sounds like it simplifies it but it doesn’t take into account the nuances and the knowledge you need to have to carry it out successfully.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it’s really about breaking down every step. That’s where Talia comes in- she walks you through every little thing you need to do in order to be successful with meal prepping. Giving yourself the space to break it down can be really helpful if you feel overwhelmed.
2. Thinking you can only make the basics.
Meal prepping isn’t just chicken, broccoli and rice. It’s more than basic meals! Talia has over 200 meal prep recipes in her arsenal- you don’t just have to follow the template of protein, starch, and vegetable. You can make curries, soups, stews, wraps, and so many other types of meals.
People need to broaden their mind to what meal prepping can be- it doesn’t have to just be a sad salad.
3. Thinking meal prepping will take all day
Every single one of Talia’s recipes takes under 45 minutes to make. If you make 2 recipes in a day, that’s just an hour and a half of cooking. It’s really not that much! You can also break up the grocery shopping and cooking into 2 days so it’s less overwhelming and time consuming.
Talia recommends you figure out what you currently have in your kitchen on Friday, grocery shop Saturday, and then meal prep on Sunday or money, depending on your schedule.
4. Thinking you need to meal prep huge batches
People tend to think they need to prepare a huge amount of food. It’s actually better to prep smaller batches instead of prepping for Monday to Friday. This way, you’ll be better able to adapt your meal prep to your mood, for example if you’re all of a sudden in the mood for something else.
People feel locked in when they meal prep and like they need to eat the same thing 5 times in a row. Instead, cut it back to 3 times and make meals that’ll stretch a bit further without going bad if you don’t feel like eating it one day.
Meal Prepping If You Have:
There are definitely meals that can be optimal if you feel like you can’t focus or if being in the kitchen drives you nuts!
The first thing you need to consider if you have ADD or ADHD is that you can split up your meal prep. For example, if you’re doing your meal prep on a Sunday, you can do one meal in the morning and the other at night. Choosing quick meals or things like soups and stews that you don’t actually need to pay attention to can be really helpful.
Medications That Tire You Out
If you’re on certain medications, too much chewing can be literally exhausting. For that, I always recommend soft foods and soups for the winter, and wraps for the summer that don’t require a lot of effort.
Taste aversions can also come up with anxiety, and in that case it’s about recognizing what those are for you and planning meals around it.
If you have a low appetite because you’re on a certain medication or whatever else, try going back to those old favorites and those meals that you know you’ll always be in the mood for.
How The Workweek Lunch Membership Works
Every Thursday, Talia sends her Workweek Lunch members a new meal plan with a mix of 5 old and new recipes. As a member, you’re able to login to a portal where you can go in and change anything, for example if there’s a recipe on the plan that you don’t like, you can swap it out for a new one. Once you’re done with your recipes, you can generate your grocery list, edit it by adding and taking things off, email it to yourself, go shopping, cook all the recipes and repeat it the next week!
It’s $8 a month and it’s kind of like Netflix- you can join and cancel anytime.
There are so many different audiences out there and everyone has different obstacle when it comes to meal prepping. That doesn’t mean it’s not for you! It looks a little different for everyone, but as long as it’s working and making your life easier, then you’re doing it exactly the way you should be.
Talia Koren is the founder of Workweek Lunch, a site and subscription dedicated to meal prep, basic cooking and reducing food waste. Talia’s mission is to help busy people all over the world master easy, affordable and time-saving cooking so that they can spend less time doing dishes and more time living their best lives. Talia lives in Queens, NY and when she’s not developing recipes, Talia loves exploring New York City, planning her next big adventure and playing board games.
This post was transcribed and edited by Brittany Allison, Intuitive Eating Counsellor. You can find her on Instagram @thefoodfreedomlife.
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