YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
Most of what we eat during the week is eaten out of habit. Think about it: the lunch you ate today, have you eaten it before? Do you eat this same lunch at least once per week? Thought so! So, if you’re eating the same meals on a regular basis it’s important to ensure that they are healthy. That’s why one of the most important components of achieving a healthy weight is a good meal plan.
So, what does a good meal plan look like? We believe that it has three key components:
1. It includes all of the core food groups,
2. It includes small, regular meals, and
3. It suits your lifestyle.
Let us help you write one. Firstly, you need to plan your meal and snack times. Do this by writing down the times that you usually eat your meals. If you don’t usually eat meals at regular times, try to work out the times that would be most convenient to eat. We recommend aiming to have a meal or snack every 3-5 hours as it takes about 4 hours for your stomach to empty and for the hormone ghrelin to stimulate your hunger signals. However, everyone’s daily meal plan will look different as we all start the day at different times and have different commitments during the day. To be sustainable it’s important that your meal plan suits your lifestyle. An example might look like this: Breakfast 7am, Snack 10am, Lunch 12.30pm, Snack 4pm, Dinner 7pm.
Secondly, fill in which core food groups you aim to have at each meal or snack. The core food groups are:
1. Grains – breakfast cereals, breads and grains such as rice, pasta and couscous. Important for nutrients such as folate, soluble fibre, carbohydrates and iodine. Try to choose wholegrain options.
2. Meat and meat alternatives – lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes. Important for zinc, iron, B12, omega 3 fatty acids and protein.
3. Low sugar dairy – milk, yoghurt, cheese. Important for calcium, phosphate, B12 and protein.
4. Fruit and vegetables – salad, Asian greens, potatoes, dried fruit and fresh fruit. Important for insoluble fibre, vitamin C and vitamin A.
5. Healthy oils – avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil and margarine. Important for essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
Remember that the average person requires at least two serves of grains, at least two serves of meat or meat alternatives, at least three serves of low sugar dairy, at least two serves of fruit, at least five serves of vegetables and at least one serve of healthy oils each day. Using the example above you meal plan may look like the following:
Breakfast (7am): grains, fruit and dairy, eg. homemade chia porridge with blueberries or avocado on toast with a poached egg
Snack (10am): dairy, eg. greek yoghurt with kiwi fruit or hummus with carrot sticks
Lunch (12.30pm): meat or meat alternative, grain, healthy oil and 2 servings of vegetables, eg. chicken or seasoned tofu, brown rice and steamed vegetables
Snack (4pm): dairy and fruit, eg. protein shake or sliced pear and a handful of nuts
Dinner (7pm): meat or meat alternative, grain and 3 servings of vegetables, eg. lamb skewer with greek salad and cup of steamed vegetables or vegetable stir-fry with quinoa
Now it’s your turn to design your basic meal plan.