Planning Our Meals For Weight Loss
Weight Loss Meal Planning
Meals For Weight Loss
Meal planning entails many things. For instance:
- You have to consider the food types that you will be advised on eating and stock them safely
- You have to avoid stocking those that you do not require.
- You have to consider those that you can stock and those that you have to get fresh from the market
- And many other things.
This section is going to clear up the maze for you as we discuss the tips in planning a healthy meal for weight loss. We will later get into having the exact meal plan then try a 12-week process with you. Here are some of the things you need to put into consideration:
- Stock your kitchen with healthy food; it is easier for you to have healthy eating habits if you stock your fridge with the healthy types of food. So your initial action should be to focus on ensuring that this is possible. Items that can be stocked in your pantry include 100% pasta or rice, 100% whole grains, nut butters and low calorie/ low sodium soups. Make a point of stocking frozen vegetables, frozen fruits, pre-cooked grains, frozen proteins like the meat products. Your refrigerator should hold other foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products like low fat milk and yoghurt and lean proteins like chicken, fish, pork and lean beef.
- Try to eat healthy snacks; we have already discussed a list of foods that are considered as unhealthy and as having empty calories. Our goal is to eliminate those items from our list and aim at including the healthy ones. Considering a healthy snack is a nice way of adding nutritional value especially if you are losing weight. One other thing that you will get to learn is that as we reduce our meal portions, we get to have small but frequent servings hence making snacking essential to keep us going. Each snack should be about 100-200 calories. Some of the snacks that you could eat includes carrots, Greek yoghurt, fruits, celery or peanut butter.
- Consume your sweet foods in moderation; remember we included these types of food in our journal. They may be unhealthy but it is unrealistic to completely punch them away. Actually, trying to eliminate them will only result to loss of motivation. However, don’t overindulge. Only eat a small portion of each, once in a while. If you had them on a regular basis, cutting them down to once weekly is manageable then with time we can get to either 1-2 times in a month.
- Prepare new recipes; the nice thing about recipes is that you get to learn new and healthy cooking methods. Learning new recipes also helps you break the monotonous diet that you might have gotten bored with. To start with, you can purchase a cookbook. With this, you can start practicing at least 1 or two new recipes each week and add new ideas as you move on. The internet can also be a good source of a twist in something that you usually prepare.
- Write up a meal plan; this is the ultimate thing to guide you in healthy eating. As we said before, it would be important if you could get the help of a doctor or a nutritionist. You have to make sure that you own the process because you are the one who will ultimately consume the meals. In designing the meal plan, it has to be inclusive of all the food groups. Take into considerations the quick meals that you will need especially if you will be going to work.
12 Week Plan Of Losing Weight
We have gone through most of the tips and secrets involved in dieting and losing weight and now, we have to implement what we’ve just learnt by putting it into a meal plan to make it work for you in the coming 12 weeks. The reason that most of us become overweight as we have seen is eating more calories than we need and not participating in activities that would help us in burning them. In our work out plan, we will aim to lose between 0.5 to 1kg a week. We will keep the calories no more than 1900 for men and 1400 for women.
This is however, a general take. If you can get to calculate your BMI or get a nutritionist, then you could calculate the exact amount of calories that you need and work towards that. You could also use the calculator I mentioned before to help you determine how many calories you need to take daily depending on all the important factors.
12 Week Planning for Weight Loss
In the first week, we want to get the baseline of your weight, waist size, eating habits and activities. Remember we went through this while making your food journal. It is by this that we will be able to tell of our progress. For the first week, we will fill your diet with fiber given that fiber gives you a feeling of fullness for a longer time.
Fiber also keeps your bowels healthy and helps to reduce any problems that you may have with your cholesterol levels. It should be our aim to get to the 30g mark every day and not below it.
Tip: When you start a fiber rich diet, remember to introduce it gradually and increase your fluid intake. Sudden increase in the fiber can predispose you to constipation and cramping.
Below are some examples of the foods that contain fiber and how much grams you can get from each.
6 apricots: 4g
2 slices whole bread 4.2 g
1 medium jacket potato: 5g
1 medium orange: 3g
1 medium apple: 2g
165g baked beans: 5g
180g of brown rice: 1.5g
1 large whole meal pitta bread: 5g
135g of sweetcorn: 2g
220g of brown spaghetti: 8g
30g of chickpeas: 1.5g
200g of new potatoes: 3g
90g of spinach: 2g
Your next worry would be ways of including this fiber in your diet. That is the next thing that we are going to discuss as we incorporate diet fiber into all our meals and snacks.
Adding some fiber in your breakfast ensures that you remain full until you have your lunch. Most of the time, it would require that you get to skip your mid snack
- Instead of using white bread, you take whole meal or wholegrain varieties for it
- Get to use porridge oats, unsweetened muesli, or wholegrain wheat cereals instead of the sweetened cereals.
Lunch and dinner
Did you know that vegetables are also a good source of energy? You could imagine all the benefits that you would gain just for taking them. It is always advisable that you add your vegetable serving in your ideal plate whether you are dieting or not. For this week, we will try to swap some of the things in our plate for more vegetables. Aim for two portions of vegetables on your plate at dinner. Some of the things that you could do include;
- Getting a whole meal version and swap white rice and pasta for it. This alone will double the amount of fiber that you will have eaten.
- Add pulses in your meals. Examples of these include lentils, peas, and beans. Most of them are cheap and a good source of fiber. In addition, they contain proteins, vitamins, and minerals. You could add the pulses to most of the soups, casseroles, rice, and pasta.
We already talked about having snacks in your meal plan. Their importance is to make sure that your glucose levels do not fall too low or you do not get yourself on starving mode. Your aim should be to stock your pantry and fridge with healthier snacks containing fiber. Some of these snacks include:
- Fruits; they could be fresh, frozen or even canned. Remember that the skin of these fruits is edible and nutritious.
- Vegetable sticks; remember we discussed about this before. Some of the foods in this category include celery, cucumber sticks, and carrots.
- Air-popped, plain popcorn; these are one of the easiest snacks that you could make at home. The homemade ones are the best as you can control the salt and fat levels in it.
Apart from fiber, food types rich in protein can also help you feel full for longer. The secret is choosing the ones that have low fat content. Examples of the sources of these include:
- Lower-fat dairy products (milk, yoghurt and cheese)
- Skinless white-meat poultry
Remember that no matter how healthy your meals may be, you will still gain weight if you are eating too much. This is the reason why it is important to regulate your portions. The tips in gaining control over the portions that you take are:
- Serve your food in smaller plates that accommodates the small serving
- Strive to have two portions of vegetables in your plate
- Try to follow our earlier guidelines of eating slowly remembering that it takes the brain approximately 20 minutes to get to know that you are full
- You can weigh the foods that you are eating to make sure that you are getting the servings right.
After getting comfortable with the calories, it is now time to increase the activity levels. Most of us do not participate much in activities. This does not matter; we will try to introduce the activities slowly into our normal life. Some easy ways of doing this is skipping the bus especially if school or your place of work is a walking distance. You could also decide to take the stairs instead of the lift. These are just some of the subtle ways that could get you into doing more activities.
Apart from just helping with you losing weight, it will also help your breathing, make your heart beat faster and make you feel warmer. The activities that you are expected to engage in are the ones that we discussed earlier including swimming, skipping and dancing. You have to be cleared off medically though before you participate in them so as not to cause further problems.
Here are some exercises that will help you build more activities into your day:
- Walking more
- Taking the stairs
- Taking up running
- Exercise in your local park
- Active travel; cycling or partly walking
- Ditch the car
- Exercise at work; during your breaks or get to the gym if your work place has one.
- Have green fingers; do things like gardening
- Walk the dog
- Play with the kids etc
In this week, you have two things already going; your job is to keep them going well. Apart from the two, it is also time to build up your breakfast. The first thing was to build fiber in all your meals. The next thing is to ensure that you build your breakfast with fiber. These are examples of what you could take for breakfast:
- Whole grain breakfast cereal with semi-skimmed milk
- Semi-skimmed milk 200ml = 103kcal
- Two biscuits weetabix = 117 kcal
- Grand total = 220kcal
- Muesli, fruit and low-fat yoghurt; the added fruit will add to the calories while the yoghurt will add some calcium
- Medium-size banana = 108kcal
- Low –fat yoghurt 125g = 81kcal
- Grand total = 330kcal
- Grilled mushroom tomatoes on a whole grain bagel
- 4 whole mushrooms = 20kcal
- Wholegrain bagel = 260kcal
- 1 large tomato = 33kcal
- Grand total = 313kcal
- Boiled egg with whole meal toast and reduced fat spread
- 2 thin slices of toast with reduced fat spread = 206 kcal
- 1 large egg = 78kcal
- Grand total = 284 kcal
With your increased activity, there will be the temptations of getting back to your cravings. The first thing that we have done is increasing your breakfast calories but then, you will get the urge to snack a lot more. Making sure you have a healthy snack of 100 kcal will help you beat your cravings. We already discussed some of the snacks that you could take above although there are still some more that I will share with you. There is also the other bit of making the workplace a healthier place for you. Some of the tips that you could adopt are;
- Eating the outlined healthy breakfast
- Bringing your own snack to work
- Drinking a lot of water
- Planning your snacks as discussed
- Opting for whole grain and low mayonnaise
- Trying low calorie vegetable based soup
- 3 cups of air popped corn
- 1 thin slice whole meal toast with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons of reduced fat hummus and celery sticks
- 3 rye crisp breads with 1 tablespoon of reduced fat soft cheese
- 8 tablespoons of salsa and carrot sticks
- 1 cup low calorie instant hot chocolate
You can get more ideas of the snacks to prepare or indulge in NHS.
To stop your food cravings;
- The first thing to do is to make sure that you do not go hungry
- Drink more water as discussed
- Reduce the temptation; make sure that you have not stocked on the temptation foods
- Chew some gum but for a short while so as not to fill you tummy with gas too.
- Brush your teeth
- If the craving won’t go away, have a small portion but still remember to mind your calorie intake.
We have already looked into the calories contained in the food that we consume but we have not looked into the calories in the drinks that we take. The healthiest drink that we can have is plain drinking water but at times, we have cravings for drinks too. Week 5 is going to make sure this is covered. The tips to avoid weight gain are:
- Men should not drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol every day. Women on the other hand should not drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol
- Alternate the alcohol with plain water
- Avoid binge drinking
- Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach
- Try cutting down on alcohol with a friend to get each other motivated.
You are successfully halfway through our process. It is time to review your routines and try identifying what may be holding you back. Some common weight loss pitfalls include:
- Skipping breakfast
- Skipping meals in general
- Drinking too many calories
- Loosing track of your calorie intake
- Setting unrealistic goals
- Unhealthy snacking/ giving in to cravings
- Gaining weight from exercises
- Taking large portions
We have been working on your diet but have not considered the fact that you would love to go out. You should be able to do this and still stay healthy in this week. The things that you should take note of are
- Making a point of choosing sauce free dishes. They have a tendency of pushing up the calories. Try grilled meat, baked fish and tandoori dishes
- Order the dishes that you are sure of and avoid those that come with suspect items
- You can ask questions about how the food has been prepared
- Keep track of all the things that you eat.
Get to try the healthy foreign dishes but make sure you avoid the bad ones. I will highlight some of the foreign dishes:
Italian; avoid cheese and the cream based pasta, meaty pizzas and lasagna and garlic bread.
Chinese; most of their foods are low in calories. All you have to avoid are the sweet sauces and anything that has been fried.
Thai; avoid the coconut milk dishes, peanut sauce, crispy noodles and fried rice
Indian; avoid bhajis, pilau rice, poppadoms, naan bread and creamy curries.
In week 9, your goal is to add more vegetables into your diet. Here are some times to make this possible:
- Aim for two portions of vegetables in your plate
- Eat more salad and vegetable based dishes
- Have vegetables as snacks
- Add green leafy vegetable soups in to your diet plan
By this week, you may seem to get de-motivated most of the time. Try to think of the goals that you set earlier on and appreciate your achievements to get yourself motivated. Most of the things that you have been seeing as barriers can be easily worked through. It is also time to evaluate yourself and see if at all you are meeting the targets. This is inclusive of both the exercises and the dieting.
By this week, you might have reached the plateau phase. It is only a temporary phase where you stop losing weight. Do not let the extra calories slip back in. One way of getting past the plateau is to engage in high intensity interval training exercises to help get past the plateau and even lose a lot more weight in the process. Ultimately, you will lose more weight and feel more accomplished.
When you get to week 12, you probably have achieved significant weight loss. It is time to look into what you want to do. Do you want to lose more weight? This will mean that you start all over again with the baseline and new goals. The other option is to maintain the weight that you have now.