My patients often tell me, “I don’t know what to eat, give me a simple plan I can follow.” They want to eat better, but they also want to know–what does healthy eating really look like?
The first thing I tell them is that it’s important to eat regularly throughout the day. I’m very careful about this myself; I actually eat every three hours because if I don’t do this, I slow down. It keeps my metabolism fresh so my muscles are burning the calories I just ingested. Also, if I’m hungry, I’ll end up grazing and am likely to go for far less healthy foods.
Here’s a sample meal plan based on what I eat each day:
Breakfast: Yogurt and 1/2 cup of bran cereal with 1/2 cup of blueberries.
Water: I drink two glasses of water by the time I start my work day.
Post-exercise early morning snack: If I exercise between breakfast and work, I eat a small protein-rich snack such as a KIND bar on the way to work.
Mid-morning snack: A baggie of dry roasted almonds and a piece of dark chocolate and a can of flavored (unsweetened) sparkling water – I mix it up every day.
Lunch: I use the plate system and try to fill half the plate with vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter carbs. For example, I might fill half the plate with a veggie stir-fry, then add brown rice and meat or tofu to round out the other half. Whenever possible, combine low-GI carbohydrates with a protein or a fat to keep your blood sugar from crashing. This combo will also give you the energy to sustain you throughout the day. A bottle of water – so by lunch, that’s four waters!
Afternoon snack: A whole grain snack such as Sun Chips paired with an apple and a glass of water.
Dinner: We always make sure the main dish has plenty of vegetables. Our standard dinner if my husband is cooking is usually a Chinese dish such as potstickers or a chicken stir-fry with vegetables. If I’m cooking that night, it’s usually an oven-baked dish like a mac and cheese casserole with broccoli. More water!
Dessert: Either a cookie or I’ll split an ice cream sandwich (not both!). I always like to end on a sweet note – I deserve it after I’ve worked all day! I’ll also have another glass of water, so by this time I’ve had at least 8 glasses of water for the day.
Note: If you want to have alcohol with your meal, that can count as your dessert. Keep in mind that it can be dehydrating though, so be mindful of that and drink water at the same time.
And one last tip about water: You can keep count by having having separate bottles to drink from throughout the day. And you can drop a couple of lemon slices into your water bottles to put a little zing into it. You might also want to try using water infuser bottles, which have a separate little canister to put fruit in to add more pizzazz. Go ahead and play around with other flavors like strawberries or watermelon. That keeps it more interesting!