I believe in eating breakfast like a prince, lunch like a king and dinner like queen.
Here’s an outline of the size of each meal:
Breakfast – small
Snack – small
Lunch – large
Snack – small
Snack – small
- When we wake up in the morning after a night of “fasting”, we do not need to put pressure on our digestive system to start digesting heavy foods that take a long time to break down in our stomachs. A light, yet satisfying meal is enough, especially when a couple hours later we’re eating another snack.
- Lunch should be our main meal of the day. It is the main meal in many countries all over the world and it’s the perfect time to eat a large meal for two reasons: 1. Our bodies are awake enough to take in large quantities of food and 2. We still have many hours until we go to bed so we have a chance to burn a lot of that food off.
- If dinner is very early, for example, before 6pm, then it’s okay to eat a bigger meal. But if you’re planning on eating later, for example, at 7pm, and then going to bed at 11 or 11:30, you won’t have a chance to burn off the calories as most people’s bodies are more stagnant at this time of day. The less you eat at dinner, the better, especially when it comes to carbs.
Here are the types of food recommended:
Breakfast: A small combination of carbs, protein and healthy fats. If you can throw in a serving of veggies – even better. (i.e. a veggie omelette with a couple of whole-wheat crackers; two rice cakes with avocado and 1 slice of low-fat cheese)
Snack: A piece of fruit and some protein. (i.e. an orange and string cheese; plain yogurt with berrries)
Lunch: This meal should include a large amount of vegetables, carbs, protein and healthy fats. (i.e. cooked green beans, sweet potato, tuna salad; Greek salad, rice and beans)
Snack: more fruit, more protein, plus some carbs to hold you over until dinner, especially if you eat an early lunch. (i.e. a slice of bread with pb&j and a clementine; a few whole wheat crackers with cottage cheese and an apple)
Dinner: You want this meal to be satisfying and filling so that you don’t end up eating another meal at 10pm, but you also don’t want to eat too heavy. (i.e a salad, an omelette and a slice of bread with cheese)
Snack: This should be some form of low-fat protein. Carbs, including fruit should be avoided. (i.e plain low-fat yogurt)
What to Eat
Both fresh and frozen are great. Frozen produce is especially healthy because it’s picked when it’s ripe. Fresh produce is best when in season and grown locally. Try to buy as much organic as you can afford, especially when it comes to produce with soft, edible skin (like peppers, apples and peaches).
Non-starchy are the best; deep colors have the most anti-oxidants. Aim to eat a few different colors at one sitting.
Be very careful with very sweet fruit such as bananas, pineapple and dried fruit. Treat them as you would candy or baked goods – have them occasionally. Always eat some protein when you eat fruit to prevent a spike in glucose. (i.e. string cheese, a handful of nuts, a cup of soymilk, two tablespoons yogurt/cottage cheese). This rule goes for any carbs, not jut fruit. Juices should be avoided at all costs, even when mixed with water. My kids get juice mixed with water once a week as a treat.
The best grains are whole-wheat and whole-grain. The darker and denser – the better. When I buy bread I usually get one with sprouted wheat and/or wheat berries and no high fructose corn syrup. Ancient grains (such as quinoa or amaranth) are excellent because they often contain high amounts of protein, are not processed the way regular grains often are, and are a lot easier to digest. Pasta should be whole-wheat as well. Rice should only be brown, never white. Rice cakes (made of brown rice and nothing else) are a great alternative to crackers, but whole wheat crackers make great snacks, too.
Low-fat dairy is a good source of calcium and protein. The better choices are yogurt and goat/sheep milk and cheeses.
Eggs are an excellent choice for protein since they contain all essential amino acids. They are a favorite at this blog because they are very quick to make.
Nuts & Seeds
These are great choices for snacks, in salads and in rice dishes. Packed with protein certain minerals and vitamins, as well as essential fatty acids, they are very filling but should be eaten in moderation as they contain high amounts of fats and calories.
Beans & Legumes
Beans and legumes are perfect in soups, stews and with whole-grain dishes. They contain high amounts of fiber as well as some protein
The best tofu is the white block because it is not as processed as the mock-meat types. With a little soy sauce and agave, it can be a delicious meat replacement.
Fats & Oils
My favorite is avocado, but I’m also partial to nuts & nut butters, as well as walnut oil. Olive oil is also great and I use canola oil for my frying (which is mostly stir-frying).
Fish & Seafood
While I’m on the fence about shrimp, I am a big fan of most fish, especially salmon and tuna (watch the mercury in these). Some fish have more Omega 3’s than others. Tilapia and catsish, for example, are not high on the list of healthy fish, but are still a better alternative to meat.
Meat & Foul
I am not going to get preachy here. All I will say is that I have been a pescetarian for the past two years and I’m not going back.
Everyone needs to enjoy life, and part of enjoying life is having delicious food, which includes sweets. Healthier sweets are dark chocolate (over 70%) and dried fruit. Yes, they are very sugary and very high on the glycemic index, but you know what? They’re much better than candy and baked goods. Eating these types of sweets occasionally (and by occasionally this means once per day) is perfectly fine. So go ahead, have chocolate-covered strawberries and a trail mix. I found that healthiest and best-tasting alternative to sugar is stevia. It’s plant-based and not processed like sucralose (splenda). Honey is fine occasionally, but it’s also very high in carbs.
Here are some useful links:
To find out which food is in season in your state click here.
Eating according to the rainbow info is here.
For more info on the Glycemic Index click here.
To read about the connection between gluten and cravings click here.