Planning a daily menu isn't difficult as long as each meal and snack has some protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates and a little bit of fat.
Here's one example of how to prepare a healthy menu for a whole day that includes three meals and three snacks.
- Eating breakfast will help you refuel after a long night's sleep and start your day with more energy. Don't ruin your breakfast with high-fat and high-calorie foods. Choose some protein and fiber for your breakfast and it's a good time to eat some fresh fruit:
- One serving of oatmeal.
- One-half cup strawberries.
- A tablespoon or two chopped nuts.
- A glass of orange juice.
- A mid-morning snack is totally optional. If you eat a larger breakfast you may not feel hungry until lunchtime. However, if you're feeling a bit hungry and lunch is still two or three hours away, a light mid-morning snack will tide you over without adding a lot of calories:
- One serving of plain yogurt mixed with one-half cup blueberries and a little honey.
- Water or diet soda.
- Lunch is often something you eat at work or school, so here is an idea for a portable lunch you can pack and take with you:
- A sandwich made with two slices of 100-percent whole grain bread, two or three ounces of lean turkey breast, a little mayonnaise or mustard, a tomato slice and lettuce.
- One-half to one cup raw baby carrots.
- One can or bottle of sparkling water.
- Order a vegetable salad with the dressing served on the side.
- A cup of soup.
- A mid-afternoon snack is also optional. Keep it low in calories and eat just enough to keep you from feeling too hungry - dinner is just a couple of hours away.
- One apple or one pluot and 12 walnuts.
- A glass of milk.
- Dinner is a time when it's easy to over-eat, especially if you haven't eaten much during the day, so watch your portion sizes. Mentally divide your plate into four quarters. One quarter is for your meat or protein source, one quarter is for a starch and the last two quarters are for green and colorful vegetables and/or a green salad:
- A light complex carbohydrate-rich evening snack may help you sleep, but avoid heavy, greasy foods or foods high in refined sugars.
- Six whole grain crackers.
- Two ounces of sliced cheese.
- One piece of fresh fruit.
- Drink water or non-fat milk instead of sugary sodas.
- Choose 100-percent whole grain breads and cereals. At least half of your servings of breads and cereals should be whole grain.
- Avoid highly processed lunch meats and sausages, which are high in saturated fat and calories.
- Cut back on fatty red meats. Choose more fish and seafood or vegetarian protein sources like dry beans and soy.
- Increase your intake of brightly colored and dark green vegetables. Serve fresh fruits and berries for desserts.
United States Department of Agriculture, MyPlate.gov. "Calorie Results and Food Tracking Worksheets." Accessed September 17, 2011. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/professionals/MyPlate-results_downld.html.