You have officially decided that you're going to make yourself a priority. You have made the choice that your health is important and you want to start or continue to make the right choices. That's the easy part; understanding and actually committing to your health is the hard part. Since you've come to MealPlanMagic.com, then clearly you're ready.
The USDA states that your plate should consist of vegetables, protein, grains, fruits, and dairy; that's a lot for one meal, but if you can fit it all in, by all means go for it.
I once had a doctor tell me "do yourself a favor, have dude food for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner have something small and sensible".
Now "dude food" is not a medical term, but what he meant was make the earlier meals in the day more filling. It will not only keep you full, but satisfy your nutritional needs and keep your desire to snack at bay.
Figuring out what to eat is difficult and can be a daunting task when you're hungry. So let’s take a look at every meal individually to see how to get your much needed daily nutritional intake.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and though I'm sure you've heard it a million times, it's true. That being said, before you grab that bagel or smoothie think about if it has what it takes to take you through to lunch.
What you want for breakfast is the perfect combination of good carbs, fiber, and protein. Health Magazine has a great list of breakfast choices. Health mentions oatmeal as a top choice, and I agree. Oatmeal is packed with fiber and as the container notes it’s packed with beta-gluten which is often used to help with high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, and HIV & AIDS. Oatmeal is also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium, and according to the Mayo Clinic you should be getting 1.6 grams of Omega 3s, and 1.5g of folate.
Serving Suggestion: Oatmeal has a bad rap and has been compared unfavorably to "wallpaper paste" -- not so! It's a blank slate for a healthy and delicious start to your day. Add sliced bananas and a spoonful of peanut butter for a hearty, stick-to-your ribs kind of breakfast, or go wild with diced strawberries and a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips! If you follow a template of fruit + healthy fat (blueberries and almonds, anyone?), you'll find that oatmeal is the furthest thing from boring!
Keep in mind this is all you will consume before you even mix in your choice of water or milk! Adding milk gives you your recommended dairy intake, add some bananas and there's fruit! You're already starting your day off right and all it takes is less than 5 ingredients and 5 minutes.
For lunch let’s not go with a typical choice of salad; it’s not everyone’s favorite and that’s not all you have to eat if you’re eating well. A go-to site for me is EatingWell.com it has great options for anyone looking for a recipe that won’t pack on the calories, but will keep you satisfied.
A Mediterranean wrap sounds like exactly what I want to eat at lunch. This recipe contains a wrap (spinach or sun dried tomato) filled with chicken tenders, couscous, lemon, and mixed vegetables. When you hear chicken tenders, don’t think chain restaurant, think grilled or baked chicken. You'll want to stay away from fried foods. The wrap is great source of grains, but pay attention to the fat and sugar content, the lower the better.
Chicken will provide you with tons of protein. The USDA recommends 3-5 ounces of lean meats, poultry, or fish. One 3-oz piece of grilled chicken contains 26.6 grams of protein, which is exactly what you need to keep you going past that notorious 4 pm slump. Adding couscous to this wrap is a great idea, because it provides you with good carbohydrates which are filled with fiber (good for the digestive tract).
The vegetables in this recipe are cucumber and tomato, which are classic Greek ingredients, both are also great sources for vitamin C and Potassium. Cucumbers are also providers of vitamins K and B, Copper, Potassium, and manganese; while tomatoes are a great source for vitamin A, Calcium, and Lycopene (according to Tomatofest.com, Lycopene is taken to prevent prostate cancer and cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia).
For dinner, remember you want to go with something light and sensible. Fish is always a great choice! It is not only easy to cook, but it's also so very good for you. Fitness Magazine has a delicious recipe for Ancho-Glazed Salmon and Sweet Potato fries that you do not have to be an award winning chef to make.
The recipe takes 20 minutes and all you need is salt, cumin, chili powder, two sweet potatoes, and olive oil -- not much to it! Remember from our lunch data, USDA recommends 3oz of fish, and 3oz of salmon contains 29g of protein, which is a perfect way to end the day. Sweet Potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates which means you’ve got protein and good carbohydrates in your last meal of the day!
There is a lot of information here, but there are a few things to remember; start your morning with a breakfast packed with grains, fruits, and dairy, fill your lunch with good grains, protein, and fiber, and at dinner opt for something light and easy with a good mix of vegetables and protein.
Your plate should be a reflection of how you want to feel. If your plate is filled with fatty and fried foods, you will most likely finish feeling grossly full and guilty. If your plate is covered in greens, protein, and a great mix of your daily recommended nutritional intake you’re going to feel satisfied, energized, happy, and proud of yourself for sticking to your healthy choices!
Whether you're just starting out or you've already picked up some skills along the way, these articles can help any questions you may have about healthy meal planning:
- Clean Eating Grocery List For Beginners
- 5 Fundamental Rules For Successful Meal Prep
- 80/20 Rule: Is It Really All About What You Eat Over How Much You Workout?
- Kickass High Protein Foods For A Lean Body
- Six Sources Of Healthy Fats (And Why It Matters)