When you’re trying to lose weight in a healthy way every one tells you that you need regular exercise and a well balanced meal. Unfortunately most of us have either forgotten or never known what exactly constitutes a healthy meal.
Does a healthy meal mean eating lots of salad? Does it mean eliminating sugar from your diet? Does it mean getting more fruits and vegetables, even if it is tempura style carrots? Keep reading to find out how to put together a healthy meal for weight loss success!
Learning how to put together a healthy meal means keeping your goals realistic. While it is true that you need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight, thinking that you can count every single calorie if you haven’t been able to do so thus far, is unlikely. So rather than planning a healthy meal based on calories, make sure you’re keeping your calorie count low by increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
For example, rather than trying to count calories follow the United States Department of Agriculture’s recommendation making half of your plate fruits and/or vegetables. This way you can be sure you’re eating enough fruits and vegetables, which provide you with many of the necessary nutrients you need for a healthy body and successful weight loss.
Make incremental changes to your diet to make sure they stick. Too many changes at once can be overwhelming and send you right back to the unhealthy food choices you’re trying to change.
Likes & Dislikes
If you’re a person who swears there isn’t one single fruit or vegetable you like, then you’ll have to get over it and find a few that you can eat. For the rest of us however it’s important to know what foods you like and what foods you don’t. Make an effort to add more of the fruits and vegetables you like to your shopping cart so they make it in your meals each week.
If you love pasta and think it’d be difficult to do without it, simply make the switch to whole wheat pasta and whole grains in general. It’ll fill you up faster than refined grains and provide you with plenty of nutrients.
Learn different ways of cooking the foods you like to avoid healthy meal boredom.
Forcing yourself to eat foods you don’t like won’t really help you lose weight, unless of course all the foods you like are junk foods that are full of calories and no nutrients. This also goes back to realistic planning; by knowing what you will eat and won’t you can make smarter healthy choices when you put together healthy meals.
Proteins tend to cause most of us the most trouble when putting together a healthy meal because we automatically default to meat as our main source of protein. In fact most of us are getting more protein than we need in our diets because we eat more meat than our bodies need and forget to account for other sources of proteins from dairy foods as well as nuts and beans.
Think about this fact the next time you make a meal of steak and beans!
According to the Institute of Medicine adult males should consume about 56 grams of protein each day and adult females should take in 46 grams per day. Of course this number may vary depending on health factors that include physical activity and pregnancy, but these are recommended daily allowances so if you currently take in 70 to 80 grams of protein, you should reduce that amount.
To put together a healthy meal for weight loss you should include more lean proteins in your diet, which means beef that is at least 85% lean and chicken without skin. Fish is the ultimate lean protein, so a healthy meal should have at least 8 ounces of fish each week as possible depending on your location.
Other sources of protein include; bison, chickpeas, kidney beans, almonds and cashews.
Make your meals healthier by switching from refined grains to whole grains. This is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet, an essential nutrient for weight loss. While the USDA recommends that half of your grain intake be from whole grains, you should substitute whole grains whenever you can.
If you think you may not be getting enough fiber, add a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.
When it comes to dairy products, the best decision you can make when putting together a healthy meal is to choose low fat and fat free dairy products. Rather than eliminating cheese and milk from your diet, reduce your intake and when you do eat it, make sure you’re choosing low fat or fat free cheese, milk and frozen yogurt.
Serving size is the icing on a healthy cake, so to speak. Once you know how to make healthier food choices as we discussed above, the next step is to make sure you don’t eat too much of even these healthy foods. The point of choosing healthier foods is that they (generally) have a lower calorie count and provide you with much needed nutrients; this is accomplished by eating the right serving size.
Purchasing a kitchen scale is probably the best way to measure out your servings until you can judge by looking at a size of fish for example, to make sure it’s a 3-ounce serving.
According to the National Institutes of Health, your serving sizes should be:
- 3 oz. for meat, fish and poultry products.
- 1 cup of cereal.
- 1.5 oz. for cheese
- ½ cup of ice cream
- ½ cup of rice, potatoes or pasta, cooked.
The more you learn about what the proper serving size should be, the more equipped you will be to identify large servings and avoid eating the entire portion. Get started putting together your healthy meals with these quick dinner recipes, all under 400 calories per serving!
If you continue to struggle eating healthy, read our review of Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat. His intermittent fasting plan can help reduce your appetite so putting together healthy meals is easier for you and your weight loss progress!