Healthy Eating, Meal Plans and Healthy Foods Made Simple
When you do an online search for “How to Get Healthy,” you will get over 359 million results. It’s no wonder the terms healthy meals, best diets, fitness, and healthy eating can cause a person to feel overwhelmed. No matter how determined a person is to change, inaction will always be the result when there is still no clear and certain plan of action to take.
The information pulled together in this in-depth guide on how to incorporate healthy meals into your everyday life will enable you to take action now. There’s no time like the present to begin experiencing the benefits of using healthy meals to develop a healthier mindset and lifestyle.
The late Dr. Wayne Dyer, an internationally renowned author and speaker in the fields of self-development and spiritual growth says, “You are not stuck where you are unless you decide to be.”
Instead of just hoping healthier meals will appear in your fridge and pantry, decide today to make it happen.
Below you will find information on why the need is urgent to get healthy now, as well as healthy meal plans you can begin implementing right away to set you (and your family) up for success in living a healthier life!
Why Is It So Important to Get Healthy Right Now?
A recent study shows that American’s Obesity Epidemic has hit a new high. Obesity is defined as having a Body-Mass-Index (BMI) of 30 or more. Key findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey distributed by the Disease Control (CDC) indicate that 40.2% of middle-aged adults (40-59) are considered obese, and all other age brackets are close behind.
The importance of getting healthy isn’t just a nice thought or something to put on your wish list. It is a serious matter of life and death. Lack of physical activity combined with not eating healthy foods are key factors for heart & cardiovascular disease, which is now the #1 cause of death in the United States. Your decision to focus on healthy eating and a healthier lifestyle now can benefit your family’s health and longevity for generations to come, but it won’t happen on its own.
Our Metabolism: Why Healthy Meal Plans Matter to You
In order to understand the types of foods that are best for our bodies, we must first understand what our body does with the food we eat. The term metabolism refers to the process by which the body breaks down food and drink (our caloric intake) to produce the energy we need to function. The energy our body needs will vary greatly and depends on many factors, including genetics, our age, our overall health, and how active we are.
The more active we are the more energy we need, which means we will burn more calories. Less activity will cause our body to burn less fuel. Every individual has a specific metabolic type.
The basic metrics that contribute to weight loss or weight gain has to do with the amount of calories we consume through food and drink versus the calories our metabolism burns as fuel. Our body needs a set amount of fuel just to keep us alive (our resting state). The graphic here shows we need about 70% of the calories we consume to maintain basic bodily functions. Around 20% will go to physical activity and the remaining 10% of our fuel is used to digest our food.
If we consume more calories than we burn, we are more susceptible to weight gain. If we burn more calories than we consume, we are likely to lose weight or at least maintain a healthy weight. The ideal goal is to reach and maintain a healthy weight with meal planning and healthy foods, while also living an active lifestyle.
To get an idea of how many calories your body needs each day, click here for a Metabolism calculator.
As we age, we change, and many of us become more sedentary, yet we don’t typically update our eating habits to correspond with our metabolism. This is why many people put on even more weight as they age. This is because, according to one of the top health influencers in media today, Dr. Oz, our body’s metabolism begins to slow down by approximately 5% every decade after you hit the age of 40.
Most Overweight People Work Against Their Metabolism by Not Having A Healthy Meal Plan
Any form of success takes planning. If you are overweight, then chances are your metabolism isn’t working well with your activity level and eating habits. Taking the time now to develop simple and healthy food plans that can replace unhealthy eating habits can get you back on track.
Dr. Oz talks about three types of eating habits that can cause additional weight gain as we age, each working against our metabolism instead of with it. He calls these metabolic personalities the Grazers, Night-Eaters, and Food-Fixators.
Most Grazers have no concept of how much food they are consuming throughout the day. The first step is to be aware of how much you are eating and how many calories you are racking up each day. To be more aware, it is important to keep a log of everything you eat and drink for a minimum of two days. Once you are aware of your caloric intake, then you can make a commitment to yourself to adjust your eating to a healthy meal plan discussed below, so that you learn how to eat healthy and in a way that works with your body’s natural metabolism.
One of the main pitfalls of the night-eater is that they typically skip meals throughout the day and then crave carbs (which turns into sugar) for dinner and their after-dinner snacks. This puts a body into starvation mode during the day, which means it holds on to fats instead of burning and releasing energy as you need it. Then because your high-calorie count is eaten at night, your body digests the food while you are sleeping, which is when you burn your least amount of calories.
Food-fixators will eat at designated meal times whether they are hungry or not. They also are prone to eat whatever they are given (as in large servings). They have learned how to ignore cues from their body like hunger and satiety (knowing when you are full). This can leave them feeling sluggish and tired throughout the day, and then stuffed and bloated after meals.
Which metabolic personality are you?
To see which personality type you are, click here for a short quiz. Below you will find specific changes you can make to incorporate healthy eating habits into your lifestyle based on your metabolic personality. The best way to get your metabolism going is to incorporate activity into your day and accompany that with a healthy meal plan.
Healthy Meals and Eating Plans to Conquer the Cravings that Work Against Your Metabolism
To maximize your metabolism, there are specific changes you can make using healthy foods to compensate for your specific metabolic personality. By incorporating these small changes into your healthy meal plan, you can work with your body’s metabolism, instead of against it.
- How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Grazer
Instead of mindlessly grazing throughout the day without a specific plan in mind, incorporate a healthy eating plan by establishing specific meal times. Implement meals every 4 to 5 hours with fiber-rich foods (8-12 grams of fiber per meal) that will keep you feeling full for longer periods of time, until it’s time for your next meal. Each meal should be between 400 and 500 calories total. See our links for healthy food lists below for ideas.
- How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Night-Eater
Since your body is used to starving during the day, you need to get your body out of that daytime starvation mode by scheduling smaller healthy meals every three hours throughout the day. In your earlier meals, incorporate your carbohydrates and focus on vegetables and protein for your evening meal. If a snack is needed, instead of grabbing carbs and sugary foods that will instigate cravings, grab a fiber-rich food that will curb your craving and truly sustain you until your next healthy meal.
- How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Food-Fixator
Commit ahead of time to what you will eat during the day and use this time to choose your foods wisely. The best course of action is to use three containers, each a different size. The largest container will have all your vegetables. The medium-sized container will be your protein, and your grains and breads will be in the smallest container. Eat from these three bins for your meals, making sure to have your grains and carbohydrates (breads) emptied in your earlier meals.
Why You Should Make Your Healthy Meal Plan Now
Each of the plans listed above (1. eating every three hours, 2. eating every four to five hours, or 3. eating a set amount of specific, measured-out food) will help you optimize your metabolism by addressing when you eat, why you eat, and how much you eat. This will help you develop a healthier way of eating instead of falling victim to unhealthy tendencies. No matter how fast or slow your metabolism is, by making these small adjustments in when and what you eat, you will be able to better manage how your body processes food and converts it to energy.
Completing your healthy meal plan is as simple as 1 – 2 – 3. For each of the three meal plans discussed earlier, use a spreadsheet on the computer like Microsoft Excel, or draw out boxes on a sheet of paper. Pick a time during the week where you can fill in your daily healthy meal menu, and then add those items to your grocery list for the week.
Here’s a healthy meal plan template for planning regularly scheduled meals – Plan #1:
Here’s a healthy meal plan with an example of small healthy meals already planned out every 3 hours – Plan #2:
Here’s an example of a meal planning template for Plan #3 – container planning:
Chris Powell is a transformation specialist and celebrity trainer who came to fame during ABC’s highly rated documentary style series “Extreme Weight Loss.” His healthy eating plan has helped people all across America. Plan #2 is a sample healthy eating plan based on his best-selling book Choose to Lose. To fill in your healthy meal-plan template with healthy foods, click here to take a look at Chris Powell’s healthy grocery list he shared with Dr. Oz.
Final Notes on Healthy Foods to Include in Your Healthy Meal Plan
- Include High-Fiber Foods. Be sure you have plenty of all-natural, organic, fiber-rich foods on your grocery list for creating your healthy meals. These not only help curb cravings and boost your metabolism to help you be more efficient in burning calories, but eating healthy dietary fiber foods could also be one of your best defenses against various forms of cancer.
- Breads and healthy carbs need to be included in your healthy meal plan.
Your body needs simple and complex carbohydrates to function properly. These types of carbohydrates naturally occur in many plant-based foods (such as vegetables and grains). Your metabolism uses carbohydrates as its main fuel source, so your choice of a white food such as bread is important as it is also one of the foods that brings in the most calories.
WebMD’s Tips for Buying Breads shares that “Every time you eat bread, you’ve got an opportunity to improve your diet. “
Bread is a staple in most people’s diets, but many times we do not choose the form of carbohydrate that works best for our metabolism. The problem with bread is that the more refined it is, the more it causes you to crave similar foods also highly refined.
Make sure you look at the label, and if the first ingredient is ‘unbleached enriched flour’ or ‘wheat flour,’ put it down and look for breads that have the first ingredient as ‘whole-wheat flour.’ Foods to avoid are white bread, wheat bread made without whole grains (just because it looks brown doesn’t mean it is healthy), crackers, pretzels, biscuits, rolls, donuts, flour tortillas, and the like, as well as white pasta like rice, spaghetti, and other noodles.
Joy Bauer is the official nutritionist for the Today show, as well as the famous New York City Ballet, and she confirms that the type of carbohydrates you eat makes a big difference in how your body’s metabolism processes food and produces energy. Refined grains found in foods made with white flour lack key nutrients, including fiber, that whole grain foods retain.
The simple carbohydrates of white breads and pastas quickly turn into glucose in your bloodstream and cause your blood sugar levels to spike. The issue here is that what goes up must come down. After the initial sugar high, you will soon experience a rapid decline and experience an energy crash that will leave you craving more sugar. These rapid swings cause moodiness and sluggish behaviors.
The alternative is to choose healthier meal options for bread and pasta. Choosing better foods like whole-grain breads and pasta can also reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. Below is a list of healthy choices for your meals as you incorporate healthy meal plans into your everyday life:
The Healthier Choice for Breads:
- Rye bread made with whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient (not unbleached enriched flour – be sure to look at the labels)
- Bran flakes
- 100% Whole-Grain breads (made with whole-wheat flour)
The Healthier Choice for Pasta
- Brown Rice
- Pasta made with Corn and Brown Rice
For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitives, there are healthy bread choices you can make, like Udi breads.
Benjamin Franklin said it best, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Create your healthy meal plan now and you will be taking a huge step towards success in achieving that healthier lifestyle you and your family deserve.
Making a meal plan that you can live with is the key to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and creating an ideal lifestyle that you can live with for the rest of your life. Remember, most diets and weight-loss fads don’t work because the parameters, rules, and guidelines were never meant to be a lifestyle, but just a way to lose weight quickly for a short period of time. So, when you revert back to your non-diet habits, weight-gain (and usually more of it) is inevitable.
The best diet, according to WebMD and other doctors and nutritionists world-wide, is no diet at all, but instead, a way of life that includes healthy meals with foods you enjoy, leading to even more healthy habits. Incorporate the healthy foods you love in your healthy meal plan, and you are on your way to a healthier, more fulfilling life!
For some delicious “healthy” meal plans, already put together for you, check out Lexi’s Clean Kitchen and enjoy!!! (Tell her we sent you)
(*This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.)