Meal Planning for Success
How do you know if your current meal planning is adequate?
If you checked with your doctor and/or are generally in good health, you can develop a meal plan by intentionally considering what your day will look like and break it down into meals and snacks (including beverages). Identifying meal/snack/beverage options certainly sets you up for success.
Aiming to Lose Weight?
Adopting meal planning and portion control principles such as the multimix principle and the hand method (see image below), the plate method (1/2 plate vegetables, 1/4 high protein sources and 1/4 high carbohydrate sources) along with monitoring your weight with a goal of 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week is a generally helpful approach for healthy individuals who are aiming to avoid weight gain or lose weight. Good snack options include fruit flavored water, a serving of fruit with water, low sugar-high fibre breads, popcorn and bean spreads with a serving of staple.
Aiming to Gain Weight?
Having 2 to 3 main meals and incorporating 2 to 3 frequent yet healthy snacks, e.g. nuts, breads (e.g. low sugar banana bread) and smoothies and shakes are helpful food strategies for those aiming to gain weight. Even with weight gain being a priority, it is important to avoid ’empty calories’ as a significant source of energy. This means that excess sugar and fat intake should be avoided (for e.g. high sugar beverages at every meal and frequent high sugar desserts). Being naturally lean but with an unhealthy diet can still lead to an increased risk of hypertension or high cholesterol. It is also important to note that healthy weight gain for persons who are naturally lean (and maintaining this weight gain) can be difficult if not consistently paired with weight bearing exercises. It is also worth noting that over time, many naturally leans persons often gain a few pounds as the decades go by if they are not intentional in monitoring their diet and physical activity levels.
Is a Professionally Designed Meal Plan for You?
Professional support in meal plan development is helpful in meeting the following needs:
- Structure to facilitate the development of healthy eating behaviours and replacing/reducing random/impulsive food behaviours.
- Reduces uncertainty (where it exists) about healthy dietary choices for your needs
- Support in planning a nutritious diet where you have tried to develop one on your own without success
- Guidance if you are being introduced to the nutritional management of a condition
While meal plans are helpful, it is important to note in some instances, someone may deviate or be tempted to deviate from the typical ‘plan’ for the day due to factors including changes in schedule, the impact of food marketing or food availability. Depending on the sensitivity of your nutrition requirements, the resulting change in the nutrients you consume and when you have them may or may not be an issue.
The key to eating well is having nutritional balance in the amounts and types of foods that we eat and drink. Everyone’s nutrition needs are different and so generic meal plans may not provide sufficient guidance for your needs. However, we have developed sample meal plans to give you an example of what a balanced diet could look like for a healthy adult requiring 1500 to 1800 calories per day. You can estimate your calorie needs by clicking here. You may access the sample meal plans below. Please note that the samples below are for illustrative purposes only. If we provide you with meal customised plans, they will be arranged differently from those below as the meal plans will be subdivided into food categories for the day, recipes, a recommendation for how the recipes can be organised throughout the day and a shopping list.