Healthy Meal Planning

Need some tips on healthy meal planning?

Is your diet healthy? Or do you eat too many take-aways and convenience foods? Maybe its time to make some changes?

It is important to include the necessary nutrients for a well balanced diet. So let's take a look at what your body needs on a daily basis.

Food is classified into the three macronutrients - fat, carbohydrates and protein. You also need to ensure you get enough of the required vitamins and minerals. 

Protein

Protein is essential for the growth and repair of all our body tissues.

The most common source of protein comes from animal products. This includes meat, fish and dairy produce. These contain all 8 essential amino acids and are considered complete proteins.

But you can also find complete protein in some plant foods. Nuts, beans and some grains, such as quinoa, are on this list. These make ideal protein sources for vegetarians and vegans.

Try to eat some protein at every meal. 

  • So for breakfast you could ring the changes with eggs, milk, bacon, ham or cheese. 
  • Lunch could consist of a salad containing grains, or baked beans on toast.
  • Your main meal could include meat or poultry, served with kale or mushrooms. 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates  are often given a bad press, but they are a necessary part of your diet. They provide you with enough energy to get through the day. This is because your body converts them into glucose.

The speed at which this happens varies, depending on the food's sugar content. 

  • With sugary foods this happens almost as soon as you eat them. 
  • Starchy foods take a little longer, and will help you feel full longer. 

Insoluble fiber is another important form of carbohydrate. When I was a girl my mother called this roughage! It helps to move food through your system and keeps you "regular". Eating fruit, vegetables and whole grains every day, will ensure you get enough fiber.

All carbohydrates will affect your blood glucose levels. Sugary foods will cause a sharp spike, which then drops within a short time. Starchy foods will have less of an immediate impact. The drop will also take longer to occur. This is why diabetics are encouraged to eat starches rather than sugars.  

Fats

Believe it or not, we do need to include fats in our healthy meal planning. But, as with carbohydrates, we need the right kind, in the correct quantity.

The right kind? Yes, there are good fats and bad fats. I will try not to get too technical here, but at the same time explain the difference.

Unsaturated fats are the good guys. They come in two forms, Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated. Both of them help to lower the bad cholesterol in our blood. 

  • You will find monounsaturated fats in foods such as nuts, avocado, and olive oil.
  • Polyunsaturated fats provide Omega 3 fatty acids. You will find them  in corn, flaxseed and sunflower oil. But the best source is  seafood, such as salmon. 

Saturated fats are considered bad for us. They raise the bad cholesterol which can increase the risk of heart disease.

You will find saturated fats in animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs.

There is another form of bad fats, known as trans fats. You will find these in high-fat baked and fried foods. So beware doughnuts and deep fried take-aways! Trans fats will also raise your bad cholesterol levels.

Healthy meal planning can help you avoid the bad fats in your meals.


Vitamins and Minerals

Healthy meal planning will ensure you get the vitamins and minerals that you need. If you only eat junk food or take-aways you could be missing out!

You can become ill if you are deficient in essential micronutrients. Taking expensive supplements is not the ideal way of resolving this deficiency. Eating a varied diet, with fresh foods is a much better decision.

Download the healthy meal planning 7 day meal planner

I have provided a 7 day meal planner for you to download. It gives you room to enter each type of food for each meal. This way, you can ensure your weekly meal planning includes all the necessary nutrients.

If you complete the planner each week it gives you a record of what you have eaten. This can help you identify any food intolerances or allergies. 






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