Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian
Calories are units of energy. When you read a food label, you can determine how many calories a certain food has per serving. Calories are meant to be a positive thing – giving you the nutrients your body needs to function. However, too often, they get a bad rap. While it is a bad idea to count calories day to day and be very strict with your eating, it is important to understand that you need a certain amount of calories every day – eating more calories than your estimated needs to maintain your current weight can cause weight gain, while eating less calories than your current estimated needs can cause weight loss. Depending on whether you want to maintain, gain or lose weight, an appropriate meal plan is out there for you. A registered dietitian can help you to personalize your own plan.
Here is an idea of a sample 2000 calorie meal plan for one or two days this week. A 2000 calorie meal plan would be appropriate for many adolescent females, small stature young adult women, middle and older aged women, young boys, adolescent lightly active boys, sedentary older men and also some individuals trying to lose weight. Do not let these guidelines be your only guidance for your meal plan. Many things affect your calorie level, including age, gender, height, physical activity level, pregnancy and illnesses.
Sample Meal Plan:
Breakfast: 1.5 cups Special K/Nature’s Path Flax Plus/Kashi Heart to Heart cereal, ¾ -1 cup milk or yogurt, medium banana or 1 cup berries, water (black coffee and unsweetened tea have no calories – watch the caffeine!)
Snack: 4-6 oz light or unsweetened regular yogurt and either 2 tbsp dried fruit or granola; alternately, a piece of string cheese and ½ serving of whole grain crackers
Lunch: Subway 6” sub (“6 grams of fat or less” selection with Italian, wheat or honey oat bread and lots of vegetables), optional: add 2 triangles of provolone or cheddar cheese, 1 tbsp light mayo (ask for it on the side or you might get too much!), optional side of yogurt/Baked Lays/raisins/apple slices, water
Snack: Whole grain granola bar such as Kashi chewy or Nature Valley; alternately, an apple or orange with 6 almonds
Dinner: 4oz grilled salmon/tuna/other fish (marinated in your favorite marinade), ¾ – 1 cup brown rice (such as the Success Rice microwaveable single serve cups), 1 cup steamed vegetables, 1 cup mixed greens salad with 1 tbsp light vinaigrette
Snack/Dessert: ½ cup homemade lowfat pudding with ½ cup fruit; alternately, you could select 1 homemade dessert item such as a brownie or cookie
Using the meal plan above, you can create your own meal and snack ideas, following similar serving sizes. For instance, maybe you prefer pasta to rice. Or, perhaps you are a vegetarian and would prefer selecting tofu or beans instead of fish at dinner. No matter what your taste preferences, try to select whole, natural foods whenever possible, as opposed to refined or highly processed foods. The best meal plan for you should be realistic, convenient and healthy!