Body Fuel, one of January’s Health Ed courses, discussed Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and total daily caloric intake. Knowing the right amount of calories you should consume each day is important to developing an effective meal plan. Whether you want to lose weight, keep the weight off, build muscle or significantly decrease the risk of heart disease, these numbers can help you develop your personalized meal plan.
Let’s start with a short primer on different Types of Diets.
By “diet” we aren’t referring to a means by which you restrict calories to lose weight, but rather a style of eating. There are diets based on cultural norms and the foods available in a particular region, such as the Mediterranean Diet or Okinawan Diet. There are also diets designed to address specific health concerns which focus on limiting the consumption of fats, sugars and sodium, such as the Ornish or Pritikin Diets. There are also diets that emphasize eating more of a specific nutrient (ex. protein), as is the case with the Atkins or South Beach Diets.
The diet that’s “right” for you isn’t necessarily the same as for your co-worker. It really depends upon what your nutritional goals are and the types of food you enjoy. If you want to know more about what health experts think about various types of diets, click below.
Translating what you know about healthy eating into actual meals and snacks can be a daunting task, even for a dietitian! Even when that is decided, it’s easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed with the details on meal plans. If you find the level of detail in a meal plan overwhelming, don’t despair, there are ways to simplify the plan and still get all the nutrients you need while controlling your calorie intake.
Here’s how you can Simplify Sample Menus:
Limit variety. You can have the same dried fruit and nuts for a snack all week (ex. raisins and almonds) rather than buying three different kinds and rotating daily. You’ll still get enough variety if you vary from week to week. If a meal plan lists 10 different types of vegetables, and you typically enjoy 2 or 3 (maybe not ideal), just eat those.
Substitute foods from within the same food group. If you don’t like a food that’s listed (or don’t know what it is), you can change it out for another food in that food group. Don’t like quinoa, or know what it is? Substitute any other grain such as brown rice or whole grain pasta. Don’t eat red meat? Swap out chicken or fish for the beef steak or burger.
Simplify the seasonings. Focus instead on the basic components and portion size. Meal plans provide suggestions for things like “rosemary chicken” but the seasoning is not what matters. It’s the portion size and the types of foods that matter.
You’re ready to get started. Some healthy meal plans are available at these sites:
You may not find either of these meal plans work for you. There are a host of other options.
For assistance choosing a meal plan that fits your lifestyle, contact me at 213-252-3090, or through my email account, N4246@lapd.lacity.org.
-Rana Parker, LAPD Dietitian