Meal Planning for Healthy Eating

Updated at: Jan 17, 2013
Meal Planning for Healthy Eating
Dr Poonam Sachdev
Exercise & FitnessWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Jan 17, 2013

Most of us want to satisfy our palate and eat healthy as well. Some people may manage well without planning meals but it is always better to plan your meals. Meal planning is needed not only for weight control but to ensure that you eat balanced diet as well. Experts say that eating a well balanced diet is important to ensure you need get all the nutrients needed to keep you healthy. Your diet should contain the recommended vitamins, minerals and proteins. If you plan your meals it is easier to eat healthy and it will help support your goal of healthy meals and healthy eating habits.


Why plan meals?

The aim of meal planning is to make sure that your daily calorie intake is reliable and you eat foods from all the major food groups. If you have a written plan then it becomes easy to stick to the plan and avoids the question of what, when, and how much to eat---a major contributor to weight gain. When you make a plan say for a week or so you can ensure that you eat a balanced diet over a week if not daily. You can make efforts to eat a variety of foods from each major food group. Include plenty of plant based foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet and limit your intake of fats, sweets and salt.


Planning your meals

Take out time each week to write down your menu for the week. Include healthy foods that you and your family enjoy. Include new recipes from your cook books, or look for recipes online. Making a menu for a whole week will help in your grocery shopping and you can make an effort to include foods from all the major groups. After a while when you have several plans, you can re-use and rotate the menus. Initially making a menu for a week may seem difficult but after a while it will become an effortless work. Making a menu is fantastic habit that can save you the stress of thinking and deciding just before you start cooking.


Calorie targets


Planning meals can help you to set calorie targets for a day. Planning meals can let you calculate your daily calorie intake and limit it if you are eating more than required. Try not to eat more calories than required as even proteins and carbohydrates taken in excess are converted to fats and stored in the body.


Serving size: helpings don't help


Meal planning can help you to set calorie targets but it won’t be useful if you do not limit your calorie intake. When you're eating home cooked meals with the rest of your family limit the number of your serving and the portion sizes as well. It can be difficult to practice but is essential if you want to maintain healthy weight.


Regular schedule


When you eat planned meals it is more likely that you will eat on a regular schedule (pretty much the same time from day to day) rather than different times every day. Eating untimely is fine if it occasional or on weekend. Experts say that a chaotic, unpredictable meal schedule can cause calamitous weight gain.


Eating out


Eating out has it’s own set of special problems---like the food had more saturated fats and is more oily, you may eat a balanced diet, and you may order more than required. However if you make a conscious effort eating out occasionally is acceptable. When you eat out order healthy foods like salads, vegetables, soups, try and avoid foods with cheese, mayonnaise, sauces. Do not order more than required and share your food with your companion.

Tips for meal planning

  • If you have a busy schedule have frozen or canned vegetables, beans, and fruits in your freezer to prepare quick and healthy additions to meals.
  • Plan meals that include plenty of plant based foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit intake of animal foods. Cook food in healthy vegetable oils ...


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