Eating Healthy: the Basics

1. What is a healthy breakfast?
2. What is a healthy lunch?
3. What is a healthy dinner?
4. How much should I weigh?
5. How many calories should I be eating?
6. What is the best way to lose weight?
7. How can I keep my weight loss goal in mind and stay motivated?
8. What is a healthy weekly weight loss?
9. How to set weight loss goals and make them happen
10. How to keep a food diary, and why it is essential to successful weight loss
11. Are all fats bad for you?
12. Are saturated fats bad for you?
13. Are unsaturated fats good for you?
14. Are carbohydrates bad for you?
15. Is fiber good for you?
16. How to read nutrition/food labels
17. How to plan your weekly menus
18. Why should I eat less salt?
19. What do the sodium (salt) numbers mean on food labels?
20. What is The Mediterranean Diet?
21. Why eating vegetables is good for you
22. Why eating fruit and nuts is good for you
23. Why are cereals and whole grains good for you?
24. What are legumes, and why are they good for you?
25. Why is eating fish good for you?
26. Which fats and oils are good for you?
27. Are dairy products good for you?
28. Which meats should I not eat?
29. Is drinking alcohol good for you?
30. Is it important to measure your ingredients?
31. Are snacks good for you?
32. How to choose the right portion size
33. Can you lose weight with a smaller plate?
34. Eat healthier by cleaning out your pantry
35. Which oils and fats should I keep in my pantry?
35. Which oils and fats are good for you - and when should I use them?
36. Which carbohydrates are good for you?
37. What is the best chicken or turkey for you?
38. Are dairy products good for you?
39. Which nuts and seeds should I eat?
40. Is red meat like beef or pork bad or good for you?
41. Is eating dessert good or bad for you?
42. Is drinking soda bad for you?
43. Is drinking coffee bad for you?
44. How can healthy food taste good? Part 1
45. How can healthy food taste good? Part 2
46. How to eat healthy while eating out
47. Are vitamins and supplements necessary to eat healthy?
48. How to eat healthy while traveling


Eating Healthy: the Basics

How to plan your weekly menus

a page in a day planner with 'lunch' penciled in

So far we've gone over getting your day structured for eating breakfast and lunch as well as what makes sense for dinner. All of this takes some planning on your part and I believe that this is the most important part of eating healthy. The better you plan, the better chance that you will stick to eating healthy.

People will plan almost every aspect of their lives. They know when they have to be at work, what meetings they will go to, times for the kid's soccer game, when they are going to mow the lawn and on and on. Any successful project requires a plan. You wouldn't think of building a house without architectural drawings and a construction plan. But folks just don't take the time to put their meals into their plans, so they end up stopping off at Burger King or standing in front of the fridge at 6:00 P.M. thinking, "What are we going to have for dinner?"

That said, you can make a plan for the week's meals, but you will also need to figure out how to fit them into your life. If you know that you will be running late on Tuesday, that's a good day to eat out or have a convenience meal. The single most important thing you can do for eating healthy and losing weight is to know what you are going to eat and when - in advance.

This is something that you need to do every week. Pick a day, sit down and sketch out what you are going to have for the upcoming 21 meals. It's also a good idea to plan for your snacks. If you are a sweet snacker, put fresh or dried fruit on your shopping list. For those who are salty/savory snackers, nuts or the 100 calorie packs of popcorn are great choices.

This means you'll have what you need on hand for breakfast and lunch. It takes only a minute to make a sandwich before leaving for work. The calories you will save by making your own lunch are huge, but just as important is the money you'll save. Making a sandwich at home will cost you about a dollar. Eating out will be about 7 times that much, at an average of $7.00. That's a savings of 30 dollars a week or about $1,500.00 per year. That's enough for a fantastic vacation (or maybe two).

It's easy to save that much and more by planning your own dinners. The plan should include fish and 3 days a week is ideal. The research says that eating fish 2 or more days a week dramatically reduces your risk of heart disease. Add to that a red meat dish one day a week and I alternate between 2 or 3 poultry or vegetarian meals a week.

Your menu plan over two weeks (14 days) should look something like this:

  • 2 red meat
  • 3 poultry
  • 3 vegetarian
  • 6 fish

This doesn't mean that you have to create a complete meal from scratch every night. For your vegetarian nights this can be as simple as a good whole wheat pasta with bottled spaghetti sauce and a bit of grated parmesan. Making your favorite chili with ground turkey on the weekend will serve two or three meals later in the week.

One of the most important parts of your menu planning should be your rewards. Do not plan this as a food reward. So often people will make progress, eat better and lose weight and then turn to food for their reward. Don't. Pick something that you love and use that as your reward. Shoes, movies, CDs, vacations, a trip to the spa. By having something to reward yourself with you'll keep on track.

Taking just a few minutes to plan your week's meals is the most important step you can take.