A Quick Guide To Healthy Meal Planning

A lot of times my clients say they would love to eat healthy – but they get bored as they feel there aren’t enough choices for creating a variety of healthy meals. But, eating healthy does NOT mean you’re stuck with salads at every meal, in fact you can make great wraps, soups, Power Shakes, or even complete gourmet meals!  Obviously, the actual amounts and types of foods you choose will be up to you and/or your nutritionist or dietician.

Let’s start by thinking about the main three food groups we eat: proteins, carbohydrates, and fat – all three of which are vital to the proper function of our bodies. You will never hear or see me backing ANY diet that is devoid of protein – carbohydrates OR fat!  They all are necessary – the key is in getting the right formula of each – at each meal to help your body function at its highest level!

These foods in my opinion are some of the best quality food choices which will not only allow you to comprise a “clean” and assorted diet, but will also give you ample amounts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  The list is grouped by nutrient sources – keep in mind that some foods overlap into more than one category. What you see below is the category that the food is most associated with.  Happy meal planning!


THE LIST

FIBROUS CARBOHYDRATES:
Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, bean sprouts, eggplant, peppers, and spinach

STARCHY COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES:
Barley, quinoa (excellent complete protein source that has complex carb properties), brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, yams, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain or sprouted breads, whole-grain cereals
**These carbs are a good source of slow absorbing sugars (carbs) equaling longer lasting energy

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES:
Strawberries, melons, apples, cherries, grapes, pineapple, pears, kiwi, oranges, grapefruit.  Be aware that while dried fruits may taste great we tend to eat more and they are loaded with calories per serving. Best to eat the ripe fruit.
**These carbs are quick absorbing sugars – equaling a quick source of energy – fruit is low in calories and contains fiber —

Please note: When you hear of simple carbohydrates being bad for you – it is usually in reference to table sugar – usually found in candy, cakes, cookies etc.

LEGUME CARBOHYDRATES:
Black beans, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, kidney bean, lentils, lima beans, peas, red beans

PROTEIN:
Egg whites, salmon, lean beef, halibut, tuna, red snapper, orange roughy, turkey breast (skinless, lean), chicken breast (white, skinless) yogurt, milk, cottage cheese (please be sure that all dairy is low fat) other cheeses such as part-skim mozzarella, string cheeses, farmers cheese and Goat cheese tend to be lower in fat than others, quinoa (also on the complex carbohydrate list) Nuts, beans (see above legume list) seeds, avocado (actually considered a fruit but is excellent source of fat and protein)

FAT:
Fish oil, flax oil, flax seed, almonds or almond butter (one of my favs), cashews, pine nuts, pecans, peanuts or natural peanut butter (careful with nuts – they taste great but the calories add up quickly.  Limit servings to fewer than 20 pieces) avocado, virgin olive oil
**Avoid saturated fats (the bad guys)– which include hydrogenated and trans-fats. Enjoy non-saturated fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (the good guys; essential for healthy body functions)

CONDIMENTS/HERBS:
Spices, fat-free mayonnaise, fat-free salad dressing, garlic, herbs, lemon juice, lime juice, low-sodium soy sauce, mustard, vinegar, cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, basil leaves, ginger, thyme, fennel seeds


Knowing how and when to incorporate different foods and nutrients into your diet is key to eating healthy. In general, stay on the outside perimeters of the grocery store.  Steer clear of the aisles (except for things like brown rice, beans/legumes etc.) and your shopping cart will be MUCH healthier.

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