If you had to guess what’s in the perfect meal plan, what would you throw out there?
Berries? Berries are probably good as they are loaded with antioxidants, nutrients, sweetness (!!), fiber and serve as a fabulous source of carbohydrate.
Protein, something like wild salmon or grass-fed beef? Each offer the good omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for our health, immunity, lower elevated triglycerides, assist joint pain caused from arthritis, fight cardiovascular disease and combat inflammation.
Tea! Surely tea. Research suggests that tea can aid in cancer prevention, increase endurance in exercise, helps us hydrate, serving up water with a delicate flavor, increase mood, concentration and potentially help with weight loss.
Superfoods?? Something like cocoa nibs. Offering a nice dose of fiber, healthy fat (stearic acid), antioxidants, and who would have thunk cocoa has over 300 healthy compounds? The best thing is, when we eat chocolate, cocoa or cocoa nibs, we can gain satisfaction from the flavor without it having to be a Snickers bar. Perhaps throwing some in a smoothie can be a home-run.
Non-starchy vegetables? For example, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, snow peas, zucchini, mushrooms! Getting the most nutrients per calorie, these foods rank top of the list. Furthermore, non-starchy vegetables can be eaten in large amounts without sacrificing waistlines nor create blood sugar swings. They are low in carbohydrates, high in nutrition and have been associated with preventing many diseases, including cancer.
If you would have answered the question of “what is included in the perfect meal plan” with any of the above, I wouldn’t say you are wrong. But can I fully agree?
A perfect meal plan is unique to each person. For what works for one individual doesn’t always work for the next person. Some folk may need a diet higher in fat (maybe around 40%), or a diet focused on high protein (35%). No doubt, a diet high (200+ grams) in carbohydrates is likely rare.
Overall, a diet focused on whole, real food will be consistent from one person to the next. Some people may do best on 3 meals a day, some people may do better with only eating in a window of 10 hours (intermittent fasting), while some people may do best with snacks.
As a Registered Dietitian I don’t provide blanket meal plans based on someone’s height and weight. I individualize their meals based on their needs, health goals, taste and digestion. If you are eating a certain way, or consistently eating the same foods and not moving towards your current health goal, think about not only the ingredients you can change but the amounts, timing of day you eat and number of times you eat.
Education is motivation, invest in your health today and appreciate the journey of attaining wellness.
Cheers to you and good health,