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A Meal Plan to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for reducing the risks of certain health conditions. "A healthy weight" is determined by whether a person's body mass index (BMI) - calculated by weight in relation to height - falls within a certain bracket. In order to remain at a weight that consistently falls within this bracket, it is recommended that women consume around 2,000 calories per day.  BMI is not a perfect calculation, so talk with your doctor if you feel like your exercise routine or another extenuating circumstance deviates from what the BMI calculator recommends. However, no matter what, it is important that the calories you consume provide the nutrients that you need, and the following meal ideas can help with this.

A meal plan to maintain a healthy weight

Breakfast

It's easy to use excuses like "I don't have time" or "I can't eat in the morning" to skip breakfast, but it's an important meal for a number of reasons. It provides energy for the day and helps prevent hunger and subsequent binging later in the day. You should also try to eat the majority of your calories in the first half of the day, and eating these breakfasts can help with that:

  • Two slices of whole wheat toast with one egg, scrambled, and one slice of unprocessed cheese, plus half a grapefruit (approximately 360 calories)

  • Half a cup of oatmeal cooked in one cup of milk (soy, dairy, almond of whatever you choose), stirred with one tablespoon of jelly; serve with half a cup of low-fat yogurt (approximately 370 calories)

  • One cup of low-fat yogurt with one ounce of peanuts and one cup of mixed berries (approximately 370 calories)

Lunch

Combining carbohydrates with protein during the day is the key to maximizing energy and concentration levels throughout the afternoon. Choose from these lunch options:

  • Two slices of whole wheat bread with a few slices of ham, avocado, and a sliced half of a tomato, plus one apple (approximately 450 calories)

  • Two slices whole wheat bread with one slice of cheese, three ounces of chicken or turkey, and one handful of baby carrots with two tablespoons of hummus (approximately 450 calories)

  • Two slices of thin-crust pizza and a side salad (approximately 500 calories)

Dinner

Dinner is the last meal before going to sleep, so make sure you eat something that will fill you up enough so you can avoid late night cravings. It's important to have a meal that's both satisfying and fueling, without being too heavy or sleep-disruptive. These are healthy possibilities:

  • Two ounces of whole wheat pasta with one tablespoon of olive oil, one ounce of Italian cheese, one chopped tomato, and four ounces of chicken (approximately 520 calories)

  • One serving of brown rice stir-fried in one tablespoon of oil with one serving of mixed vegetables, one egg scrambled into it, and one tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce (approximately 420 calories)

  • A baked potato topped with half a cup of chili, one ounce of cheese, and one tablespoon of light sour cream (approximately 450 calories)

Snacks

Snacks like these prevent hunger between meals:

  • One ounce of nuts and one plum
  • String cheese and one serving of whole wheat crackers
  • One banana and two tablespoons of peanut butter
  • One ounce of dark chocolate and half a mango
  • One cup of low-fat yogurt and one cup of berries
  • One apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter

Eating well is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight, but don't deny yourself the odd treat; an occasional chocolate bar, packet of chips, or glass of wine is not going to dramatically affect your weight. It is also important to use spices and seasonings when you prepare your food. These are healthy ways to add variety to your food, and many spices have added health benefits.

Remember, while 80% of weight management is dictated by what you eat, 20% is linked to exercise. Taking part in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week will not only help with maintaining healthy weight, but it will also strengthen your body and improve fitness.

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Sources:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Planning Meals. Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/meals.html
  • National Institutes of Health. (2014). Weight Control. Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/weightcontrol.html
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2014). Weight Management. Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://www.nutrition.gov/weight-management