A Recipe for Goal Attainment: Meal Plans Made Easy

As forecast in the previous article, we turn now to seven days of meal plans incorporating the various food groups. Note that this thorough article gives you lots of flexibility in your meal choices throughout the day. You must, however, follow the budget for each food group and be vigilant with portion sizes.  I include it here, again, as it is central to successful meal planning.weekly-meal-planning

A Reminder About Portion Sizes

  • One portion is generally the size of the palm of your hand for bread, pasta, rice, cereal, crackers, potatoes, couscous, and quinoa.
  • One portion of nuts, seeds, or fruit will also fit in the palm of your hand
  • One portion of legumes is one cup

In the rest of this article I give a week’s worth of sample meal plans.

The sample meal plans that follow are suggestions and are here primarily to illustrate how to use the budget concept. You’re encouraged to build your own varied, healthy, and satisfying meals and snacks so you enjoy what you eat, avoid hunger, and lose weight.

Keep in mind, as you develop your own menus, that it is imperative to have a protein with each meal and to have an abundance of high-fiber options throughout the day. Fiber is found in whole-wheat and whole-grain starches (but you must stay within your daily starch budget), vegetables, fruits, and beans. As well as being good for you, protein and dietary fiber will satiate you longer.

SAMPLE MEAL PLANS

DAY ONE

Meal/Snack Budget

Breakfast

Oatmeal (plain) ½ cup, made with ½ cup milk* 1 starch, ½ milk/alt.

Blueberries, handful 1 fruit

Yogurt*, ¾ cup (cinnamon added) 1 milk/alternatives

Coffee/tea, 1% milk but no sugar

Mid-morning Snack

Almonds, unsalted, handful 1 nuts/seeds

Lunch

Grilled vegetables with grilled chicken Unlimited

Mid-afternoon Snack

Vegetables, assorted raw (Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, yellow, red, orange peppers) Water, sparkling (low sodium) Unlimited

Half Hour Before Dinner

Apple 1 fruit

Dinner

Salmon, 6oz grilled 1 fish

Brown rice, palm size (1 for females, 2 for males) 1 or 2 starch

Vegetables, stir fried (red peppers, Portobello mushrooms, onions, and asparagus) Unlimited Water, lime wedge

Evening Snack

Yogurt*, ¾ cup, mixed with 1

Milk/alternatives raspberries, handful 2 fruit

Orange

* 0% or 1% fat variety. Remember to purchase plain yogurt with no artificial sweeteners.

Day One Daily Total

  • 1 fish
  • 4 fruit
  • 2 or 3 starch (depending on whether male or female)
  • 2 ½ milk/alternatives
  • 1 nuts/seeds

A Note About Day One

If you followed the menu as suggested, you ate well and stayed within budget in all food groups except for being short a ½ portion of milk/milk alternatives and 1 portion short on starch, which is okay.

Your Remaining Weekly Budget

  • 2 fish
  • 3 meat
  • 3 cheese
  • 4 eggsmeal-planning

DAY TWO

Meal/Snack Budget

Breakfast

Eggs – 2, hard boiled, pepper (no salt) 2 eggs

Tomatoes, red and yellow peppers Unlimited

Cheddar cheese, 1.5oz 1 cheese

Coffee/tea, 1% milk but no sugar

Mid-morning Snack

Yogurt*, ¾ cup 1 milk/alternatives

Almonds, unsalted, handful 1 nuts/seeds

Lunch

Salad greens and assorted vegetables Unlimited

Grilled salmon, 6oz 1 fish

Oil and vinegar dressing (used sparingly)

Water with lime

Mid-afternoon Snack

Strawberries, handful 1 fruit

Cherry tomatoes, celery Unlimited

Half Hour Before Dinner

Orange 1 fruit

Dinner

Grilled vegetable salad Unlimited

Pasta, 3 or 4 portions with chicken and tomato-based sauce 3 or 4 starch

Berries, 2 handfuls 2 fruit

Water, large glass with lime

Evening Snack

Yogurt*, ¾ cup, with 1 milk/alternatives

Pistachio nuts, handful (in yogurt) 1 nuts/seeds

* 0% or 1% fat variety. Purchase plain yogurt with no artificial sweeteners.

Day Two Daily Total

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cheese
  • 3 or 4 starch
  • 1 fish
  • 4 fruit
  • 2 milk/alternatives
  • 2 nuts/seeds

A Note About Day Two

Today you saved all your starch portions for a pasta meal, perhaps at a restaurant. You came in a little short in milk and milk alternatives, but this is allowed occasionally. Also, you went over your nuts/seeds allotment for the day, which is also allowed occasionally.

Your Remaining Weekly Budget

  • 1 fish
  • 3 meat
  • 2 cheese
  • 2 eggs

DAY THREE

Meal/Snack Budget

Breakfast

Bread – 2 portions, whole grain with butter (sparingly) 2 starch

Milk*, 1 cup 1 milk/alternatives

Coffee/tea, 1% milk but no sugar

Mid-morning Snack

Baby carrots, radishes Unlimited

Lunch

Roast beef sandwich 1 meat

6oz lean beef, whole wheat bread, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle, Females:

Eat this open faced 1 or 2 starch

Mixed green salad with assorted vegetables and vinaigrette dressing Unlimited Water

Mid-afternoon Snack

Pecans, unsalted 1 nuts/seeds

Assorted sliced raw peppers and broccoli Unlimited

Half Hour Before Dinner

Banana, whole 2 fruit

Dinner

Bowl of butternut squash soup (low salt, homemade) Unlimited

Grilled tilapia, 6oz 1 fish

Vegetables, stir-fried (snow peas, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, and onions) Unlimited

Evening Snack

2 apples cut into small pieces 2 fruit

Yogurt*, ¾ cup 1 milk/alternatives

* 0% or 1% fat variety. Purchase plain yogurt with no artificial sweeteners.

Day Three Daily Total

  • 1 meat
  • 1 fish
  • 2 milk/alternatives
  • 3 or 4 starch
  • 4 fruit
  • 1 nuts/seeds

A Note About Day Three

This day had both meat and fish. You have finished your fish servings for the week.

Your Remaining Weekly Budget

  • 0 fish
  • 2 meat
  • 2 cheese
  • 2 eggs

DAY FOUR

Meal/Snack Budget

Breakfast

Whole wheat bagel, small amount of peanut butter 2 starch

Yogurt*, ¾ cup with 1 milk/alternatives raspberries, handful 1 fruit

Coffee/tea, 1% milk but no sugar

Mid-morning Snack

Walnuts, handful 1 nuts/seeds

Cucumber, carrots, assorted vegetables Unlimited

Lunch

Turkey breast, grilled Unlimited

Stir-fried vegetables Unlimited

Mixed green salad with small amount of vinaigrette Unlimited

Mid-afternoon Snack

Mixed fruit with yogurt*, ¾ cup 1 fruit 1 milk/alternatives

Half Hour Before Dinner

Apple 1 fruit

Dinner

Vegetables, stir-fried Unlimited

Chicken breast Unlimited

Brown rice, 1 or 2 portions 1 or 2 starch

Broccoli, steamed Unlimited

Salad, mixed greens, small amount of vinaigrette Unlimited

Evening Snack

Blueberries 1 fruit

Cheese, Gouda 1.5oz 1 cheese

Wine, 5oz 1 alcohol

* 0% or 1% fat variety. Purchase plain yogurt with no artificial sweeteners.

Day Four Daily Total

  • 1 cheese
  • 3 or 4 starch
  • 4 fruit
  • 2 milk/alternatives
  • 1 alcohol
  • 1 nuts/seeds

Your Remaining Weekly Budget

  • 0 fish
  • 2 meat
  • 1 cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 alcohol (females); 6 alcohol (males)

how-to-eat-and-get-your-goalDAY FIVE

Meal/Snack Budget

Breakfast

All bran cereal, ½ cup 1 starch

Milk*, 1 cup 1 milk/alternatives

1 egg, soft or hard boiled 1 egg

Tomato slices Unlimited

Coffee/tea, 1% milk but no sugar

Mid-morning Snack

Mixture of sesame seeds, dried cranberries, dried apricots, 1 fruit

almond slivers, handful 0.5 nuts/seeds

Water

Lunch

Vegetable burger, whole wheat bun with avocado spread, 2 starch tomato slices, peppers, olives Unlimited

Milk*, 1 cup 1 milk/alternatives

Mid-afternoon Snack

Yogurt*, ¾ cup (add cinnamon for flavor) 1 milk/alternatives

Water, sparkling

Half Hour Before Dinner

Pear 1 fruit

Dinner

Steak, 6oz, lean 1 meat

Asparagus, grilled Unlimited

Spinach salad with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, honey 1 fruit mustard dressing 0.5 nuts/seeds

Wine, 5oz 1 alcohol

Evening Snack

Raw vegetables with hummus dip: red, orange, yellow, and green peppers,zucchini, baby carrots

Unlimited

* 0% or 1% fat variety. Purchase plain yogurt with no artificial sweeteners.

Day Five Daily Total

  • 1 egg
  • 1 meat
  • 3 milk/alternatives
  • 3 fruit
  • 3 starch
  • 1 nuts/seeds
  • 1 alcohol

Your Remaining Weekly Budget

  • 0 fish
  • 1 meat
  • 1 cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 alcohol (females); 5 alcohol (males)

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DAY SIX

Meal/Snack Budget

Breakfast

Egg, 1 hard or soft boiled 1 egg

Yogurt*, ¾ cup (cinnamon added) 1 milk/alternatives

Coffee/tea, 1% milk but no sugar

Mid-morning Snack

Bowl of citrus fruit, 2 handfuls 2 fruit

Lunch

Large salad with chickpeas, kidney beans, cucumbers, carrots, 1 cup legumes tomatoes, assorted peppers, oil and vinegar dressing Unlimited

Water with lime

Mid-afternoon Snack

Pecans, handful 1 nuts/seeds

Vegetables, assorted, raw, with hummus Unlimited

Yogurt*, ¾ cup 1 milk/alternatives

Half Hour Before Dinner

Clementines – 2 1 fruit

Dinner

Penne with olive oil, garlic, 3 or 4 starch

Grilled chicken Unlimited

Vegetables, stir-fried Unlimited

Green salad, large, calorie-reduced vinaigrette Unlimited

Water

Evening Snack

Cheese, 1.5oz 1 cheese

Celery sticks Unlimited

Wine, 5oz 1 alcohol

* 0% or 1% fat variety. Purchase plain yogurt with no artificial sweeteners.

Day Six Daily Total

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cheese
  • 3 or 4 starch
  • 3 fruit
  • 2 milk/alternatives
  • 1 legumes
  • 1 nuts/seeds
  • 1 alcohol

Your Remaining Weekly Budget

  • 0 fish
  • 1 meat
  • 0 cheese
  • 0 egg
  • 1 alcohol (females); 4 alcohol (males)

Diet-Free-Of-Gluten-For-YouDay Seven

Meal/Snack Budget

Breakfast

Oatmeal, plain, ½ or 1 cup, made with ½ cup milk 1 or 2 starch,

Raspberries, handful ½ milk/alt.

Milk*, 1 cup 1 fruit

Coffee/tea, 1% milk but no sugar 1 milk/alternatives

Mid-morning Snack

Yogurt*, ¾ cup (with cinnamon) 1 milk/alternatives

Lunch

Turkey slices (not processed) Unlimited

Vegetables, stir-fried Unlimited

Water with lemon

Mid-afternoon Snack

Vegetables, assorted raw Unlimited

(Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, radishes, raw turnip slices)

Half Hour Before Dinner

Pear 1 fruit

Dinner

Veal medallion, 6oz 1 meat

Whole wheat couscous, 1 or 2 portions 1 or 2 starch

Asparagus, grilled or steamed Unlimited

Bowl of berries, 2 handfuls 2 fruit

Evening Snack

Almonds and pistachios, handful 1 nuts/seeds

Wine, 5oz 1 alcohol

* 0% or 1% fat variety. Purchase plain yogurt with no artificial sweeteners.

Day Seven Daily Total

  • 1 meat
  • 3 or 4 starch
  • 4 fruit
  • 2 ½ milk/alternatives
  • 1 nuts/seeds
  • 1 alcohol

Your Remaining Weekly Budget

  • 0 fish
  • 0 meat
  • 0 cheese
  • 0 eggs
  • 0 alcohol (females); 3 alcohol (males)

Note: Over the course of the week, four 5-ounce glasses of wine were consumed. This is just within the weekly limit for women, and 3 portions under for men. (During this meal plan, women can have 4 drinks per week, and men 7 drinks per week.)

The Secret Sauce Of Your Diet: Hydrate – with Real Water

Make sure you drink lots of water at meals and throughout the day, as well. Water helps your body function efficiently and helps you feel satisfied. While water is something we all take for granted, please stick to real water. Bottled water with added vitamins often contains a lot of sugar, and the flavored waters on the market are usually artificially sweetened. Nothing is as good for you as the real thing. (We’ll get into the problem with excess sugar and artificial sweeteners later on.)

For those who don’t like the taste of regular water, try dressing up a pitcher of water with slices of lemon, lime, or orange. Sparkling water can be a refreshing option as well. (Always check the label to be certain it has no added sugar and minimal sodium.)

Patient Story: Gaining Energy

Bernice, a thirty-eight-year-old, weighed 205 pounds (93kg), which gave her a BMI of 34 (category I obesity). Her waist circumference was 40 inches (102cm). Her LDL (bad cholesterol) was 3.46 (134 American units), and her HDL (good cholesterol) was very low at 0.84 (32 American units).

She did a lot of physical activity in her job, but did no cardio exercise. She was told that she had a significant risk of developing diabetes and heart disease due to her weight and large waist circumference. Bernice’s low HDL (good cholesterol) was also a risk factor for a heart attack. The risk of becoming diabetic really scared her. Some of her friends’ parents had diabetes, and she had seen them develop kidney failure due to diabetes. (One of them had to have a leg amputated.) A coworker had died from a heart attack at age forty.

Fresh ingrediants for salsa, rice. beans and tortillas

We reviewed her diet and discovered that she was eating large servings of cheese every day on her lunch sandwiches (foot-long sandwiches, packed with cold cuts). She assumed she could eat whatever she wanted because she was so young and had a physically active job.

Bernice began following the Health First program, as well as doing three other very important things.

First, she reduced her cheese consumption to only three times per week and eliminated processed meats from her diet.

Second, she separated in her mind any relationship between being physically active and food consumption. “I stopped thinking that as long as I was active, I could eat whatever I wanted. I used to think that I would just burn it off with my physically demanding job.” She recognized that the way to lose weight was by eating the right foods in proper proportions.

Third, she began cardio exercise four times per week for thirty to forty-five minutes – for her health. Bernice lost 38 pounds over five months. Thanks to her exercise regime, her HDL, formerly very low, rose to a better level. “I cannot believe how much more energy I have,” she said.

Dieting

Eight years later, she is still 167 pounds. She power walks for forty-five minutes to an hour at least four times a week. Bernice is down to three small portions of cheese a week, has red meat just twice a week, and has stopped eating all cold cuts (processed foods). She enjoys lots of chicken, fish, and vegetables.

Bernie’s risk of developing diabetes has been dramatically lowered, as well as her risk for heart disease and various cancers.

Eight years later, her 38 pounds is still off. Her BMI was down to 27 (mildly overweight category), her LDL (bad cholesterol) went down to 2.4 (96 American units), and her HDL (good cholesterol) rose to 1.2 (46 American units). Her waist circumference has also decreased significantly, dramatically reducing visceral fat (fat around the organs, a dangerous fat).

Your Budget Snapshot

The Table of Threes and Fours

3 portions per week

Meat

Fish

Cheese*

4 portions per week

Eggs

3 portions per day

Milk, yogurt, milkalt ernatives*

4 portions per day

Fruit

Starch (males)

Unlimited servings

Vegetables

Poultry**

* On days you have cheese, you’re permitted just 2 portions of milk, yogurt, or milk alternatives.

** For those without kidney disease.

Note re: Alcohol

Females: up to 4 drinks per week

Males: up to 7 drinks per week