Four weeks to eating well

By: Primacy Dietitians, Nov 30, 2009
  Article
healthy eating, how to eat healthy, healthy foods, healthy meals

With this simple yet effective plan, eating well has never been easier

Winter is fast approaching, and it’s never been a better time to put you and your health first. Why wait until New Year’s to resolve to eat healthy? This simple four-week action plan will help you get ready to look and feel your best, just in time to ring in the New Year!

Week 1: Breakfast time

You’ve probably heard it before, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day—so important that it’s at the top of our list. Beginning the day with a healthy meal boosts your metabolism and may prevent you from overeating later in the day. Eating breakfast can also prevent mood swings and increase your concentration at work or at school.

Tip: If you are new to eating breakfast or never feel hungry in the morning, start small with a smoothie or yogurt with fruit. Remember, breakfast does not have to be your traditional toast or cereal; enjoy leftovers from dinner or a slice of cold pizza (with whole wheat crust, of course!).

Week 2: Eat every three to four hours

Now that you have jump-started your metabolism with breakfast, it’s time to give it a boost. Have a healthy snack between meals. Eating regularly (every three to four hours) will keep your metabolism high, so you burn calories most effectively. You’ll have lots of energy during the day, and it will be easier to manage your cravings. Remember, when you snack between meals, it is important to reduce meal portions accordingly. This may happen naturally, because you are apt to be less hungry at meal times.

Tip: When choosing a snack, think variety, high-fibre and healthy fats.

  • Variety: From nuts to fruit to a granola bar, mix it up! Change your snacks each week so you don’t get bored.
  • High-fibre: A homemade bran muffin, veggie sticks, or whole-wheat pita or crisp bread and hummus can boost your fibre intake with your snack choices.
  • Healthy fat: Fat is an essential part of your diet, but stay clear of trans or hydrogenated fats usually found in junk food.

Try for two of the four food groups from Canada’s Food Guide, such as nuts and fruit, vegetables and hummus, or a small bowl of high-fibre cereal and low-fat milk.

Week 3: Dish it up!

You’ve mastered breakfast and are now eating well throughout the day, but you wonder if there is too much food on your plate. Put away your measuring cup, because we have a much easier way to control your portions. At lunch and supper, your plate should be filled 1/2 with vegetables, 1/4 carbs (starch—such as rice, pasta, or potatoes) and 1/4 protein (such as chicken, fish, lean beef, pork, beans, egg, or tofu). If you’re still hungry, have another serving of vegetables before you reach for more meat or starch.

Tip: Try these tricks to make measuring a bit easier.

  • A teaspoon is the tip of your thumb.
  • Two tablespoons are the size of a ping pong ball.
  • A cup is roughly the size of a tennis ball.
  • A serving size of meat is generally about the palm of your hand, or the size of a deck of cards.

Week 4: Plan ahead

Planning ahead is essential for maintaining your new healthy eating routine. When you are too tired to think about what to eat for dinner, having planned ahead will ensure you have the ingredients on hand and back-up meals ready if you run short on time.

Tip: Take time on the weekend to plan the upcoming week’s meals and snacks. Try batch cooking for soups, chili and meats on the weekend to save time during the week.

Primacy Dietitians is a panel of dietitians who are all members of the Dietitians of Canada.