You've decided you want to lose weight and get healthy. But it seems like you're always running out of time and grabbing something on the go, something like a big, greasy hamburger. A little meal planning can help you avoid these diet pitfalls.
Things You'll Need
- Pen and paper
- Library, internet, or both
Think about foods you like to eat. Now smack yourself for saying "Big Mac and fries." Just kidding. Make a list of the foods that make you feel full, good, happy, or just that you find yourself eating often. Now make a mark beside the healthy ones. You will either need to ditch the unhealthy options or research how to make them more healthy.
Plan out all your meals and snacks on paper and stick to it. You need to be sure to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks in between meals. I know eating MORE sounds counterproductive, but you are going to eat smaller portions more often. This is essential to keeping your metabolism revved up and burning off excess fat. Your body is programmed to store up food to see you through lean times, and if you only feed it once a day, its going to hoard it all as fat. As you are planning the meals for the day, make sure you keep it balanced. Consult the Food Guide Pyramid in the resources to make sure you get the right number of servings of each food group and the right portion sizes.
Make sure that breakfast includes some carbohydrates for energy. But carbs are bad, aren't they? No, your body needs to have SOME carbs to operate, especially if you are combining your diet with exercise like you should. Go for whole wheat choices when choosing your toast, waffles, bagel, or other breakfast grains. Breakfast also needs to include calcium. Strong bones are needed to support strong muscles. But more importantly, recent research has linked calcium intake to weight loss. Have a cup of light yogurt, or a small glass of skim milk. Protein is also very important. Protein is essential to building muscle, and more muscle in your body helps to burn up the fat. Include an omelet with your breakfast. Use one whole egg and two egg whites, along with your favorite vitamin-rich veggies like green bell pepper or fresh Roma tomato. Don't like eggs? Grill up a lean hamburger steak or chicken breast.
For your first snack of the day, choose something small and light, but satisfying enough to keep you from reaching for other, less healthy options. Nuts make for a good burst of energy, but avoid the more fattening types such as cashews. Opt for walnuts or almonds which are good for your heart. If you normally have a soda, opt for a low sugar flavored water instead. Have a sweet tooth? Pick out a treat from the "100 calorie pack" line and stick to JUST ONE PACK.
Include a protein choice for lunch, such as grilled chicken breast, tuna, or a tofu burger, as well as some fruits and vegetables. Make yourself a garden salad with tomatoes, one ounce of shredded cheese, and some tuna fish. Or grill a chicken breast and have it on whole wheat with a tomato slice and some baby spinach leaves.
For your second snack, reach for an apple, pear, peach, or another fruit you enjoy. A few slices of sharp cheddar will go well with your snack also. Craving salty? Try a handful of mini pretzels or some popcorn with light butter.
Plan for dinner to be a lighter meal since you will be going to bed and not able to use up all of the calories. A protein choice, some fruit and a salad will do.
Look over your plan for the day and make sure you have provided for enough servings of each food group. Now make yourself another day or two of plans so that you can alternate them and avoid getting bored. Having a clear plan for your eating each day will help you avoid the temptations of unhealthy foods. Being prepared for the times when you usually give in by keeping healthy snacks on hand will help you with your weight loss goals.