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Developing a Healthy 7 Day Meal Plan

written by: SaraRD • edited by: Tania Cowling • updated: 3/17/2011

Having trouble developing a healthy 7 day meal plan? Read on to learn how to do so without going hungry.

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    Overview

    Developing a healthy 7 day meal plan can be relatively easy if you think about how much you need to eat every day and how you want to break it down into meals and snacks. I typically recommend to my clients to eat within one hour of waking up and then every three to four hours. The frequency of the meals is important to sustain a healthy metabolism. Eating this way usually allows for three meals and two or three snacks depending on your schedule. Once you have determined the amount of calories that you want to consume per day - if you are looking to lose weight cutting your calories by 500 calories per day will result in a 1 pound per week weight loss - and your meal schedule then evaluates your macronutrient breakdown.

    Your macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates should be 50-60 percent of your total calories (if you are diabetic you might want to go between 45-50 percent of your calories coming from carbohydrates), fats should be about 25-30 percent of your calories, and the balance should be coming from protein.

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    Foods to Choose

    Choosing the right foods to incorporate in your healthy 7 day meal plan will play a large role in how happy you are with your meal plan. Looking for foods that give you more bang for your buck will ideally give you more volume for less calories. Ultimately, the volume of food we consume is what is going to keep us full and satisfied.

    First off, look at the types of carbohydrates that you consume. You want to consume complex carbohydrates which are rich in fiber. Fiber in carbohydrates results in the body working harder to break down the carbohydrates leaving you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. Examples of complex carbohydrates are:

    • whole wheat bread
    • whole wheat pasta
    • brown rice or wild rice
    • whole grain cereal - Fiber One, All Bran
    • fruits
    • vegetables

    After choosing the right kinds of carbohydrates then look at your protein sources. Ideally, you want the leanest protein sources possible so that you do not add in too many calories from fat. Examples of lean proteins are:

    • chicken breast
    • turkey breast
    • shrimp
    • scallops
    • tilapia
    • tuna
    • pork loin
    • filet mignon

    Finally, look at the fat content of your meals. Regardless of the type of fat, on average every serving of fat whether it is butter or oil is about 14 g. The difference between the different fats is the type of fat that it comes from. Mono and Polyunsaturated fats are the good fats that we want to consume in our diets. Saturated and Trans fats are the bad fats that we want to limit because they clog your arteries and cause heart disease. When label reading look for foods that have two grams of less of saturated fat per serving and no trans fat. Examples of the fats that you want to incorporate into your plan are:

    • canola oil
    • olive oil
    • walnuts
    • peanut butter
    • avocados
    • light butter like smart balance and olivio

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    Message from your RD

    Creating your healthy 7 day meal plan can be very easy if you spend a little time planning and preparing in advance. To summarize, here are some tips to follow when creating your plan.

    • Determine the amount of calories you need to consume per day
    • Plan out your meal times
    • Choose complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and heart healthy fats
    • Avoid foods that come out of a box or a bag
    • Always eat a complex carbohydrate with a lean protein
      • fruit and nuts
      • crackers and cheese
    • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
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    References

    This information is based on my education and experience working at SHS Nutrition, LLC in Piscataway, NJ.

    Fiber One Cereal www.fiberone.com

    All Bran Cereal www.all-bran.com