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Meal Planning 101

Does the thought of meal planning stress you out?  With all the suggestions on what to count – calories, carbs, fats, etc., it can seem overbearing for many of us.  We are bombarded with nutritional jargon that does little more than add confusion to an honest attempt to make healthy change in our diets – 0 trans fats, made with whole grains, reduced fat ­vs. low-fat.  The list goes on and on. 


If you are working on making positive change in the foods you eat, and weight loss is your goal, try these 3 simple steps to creating a manageable nutrition plan:


1)      Select quality food choices.  Ditch the fast food, fried foods, refined carbohydrates, and high-fat add-ons like butter and creamy dressings.  Go for whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and low fat (or non fat) dairy products.

2)      Control the quantity on your plate.  Review the number of servings within each food group that is recommended for your daily caloric intake.  Practice measuring out your portions so that you become familiar with what appropriate servings look like.  Stick to your daily allowance within each category.  It is easier to count the number of servings of grains you’ve had (1 cup oatmeal = 2 servings) rather than remembering the calorie content of all the food you eat. 

3)      Count your calories.  Take some time to look up the calorie content of the foods you frequent.  Make a “quick view” list of these items so you are more efficient the next time you need to find the information.  The nice thing about following these steps?  By the time you get to this 3rd step, if you’ve been successful at Steps 1 and 2, you’ll notice that your caloric intake is already right where you want it to be!  Making quality food choices and controlling the quantity brings you well on your way to a successful nutrition plan.


If planning out 21 meals for a week still seems overwhelming, start small!  Determine the meal time that is most challenging for you (dinner for example) and try to plan them out for 3 days.  Once you’ve got your plan, stick to it.  Give yourself that courtesy after putting in the time and effort. 


Best of luck!  And remember, we’re here to help!

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