Thursday, February 20, 2014

Creating Your Own Healthy Eating Plan

I have been asked countless times, "What is your meal plan?" or "Can you put me on your meal plan?" While I am flattered that people want my advice on eating healthier, I will not give anyone my meal plan. I believe that what I eat in a day may not necessarily be what another individual needs to eat during the day. My energy requirements may be more or less than your energy requirements. Because of factors like my age, weight, and activity level my body requires a certain amount of calories to maintain my body weight. Not only are my energy requirements most likely different from yours, my nutrient requirements, more than likely, differ from yours as well. For example, I have iron-deficiency anemia, which means I need to increase my iron absorption in my body. In order for my body to maximize iron absorption at its full potential I need to incorporate two things in my diet: 1. I need to reduce or limit my calcium intake. This is because calcium reduces iron absorption in the body. 2. I need to increase my intake of vitamin C. This is because vitamin C helps increase iron absorption in the body. I do not know what your energy needs are or your nutrient needs and therefore I do not feel right about giving you (or anyone else) my meal plan.

Although I won't give out my personal meal plan, I believe it is important to share with people the variety of foods that I eat in my diet. This is why I will give my weekly grocery list so that people will be able to see what I buy for myself and my family, as well as see the variety of foods I incorporate into my diet. One thing that you will notice when you look at my grocery list is I tend to buy whole foods. I am not talking about Whole Foods, the grocery store (although you can definitely do your shopping there if you desire). When I say "whole foods" I am talking about food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives and other artificial substances. So I buy a lot of fresh produce, meat and seafood. I buy very little "packaged" items, which you will see shortly in my grocery list.


                            My Grocery List

 Produce:                                                Meat/Grain:                                                    
Honeydew Melon                          Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast      
Watermelon                                    Salmon Fillets                              
Strawberries                                    Tilapia Fillets                                        
Blueberries                                      Tuna Steaks                                                    
Pineapple                                        95% Lean Ground Turkey                              
Mango                                            Whole Wheat Bread
Apples                                             Almond Butter/Peanut Butter
Bananas                                         Whole Grain Brown Rice
Sweet Potatoes                                Whole Grain Pasta; low-sodium pasta sauce
Baby Spinach                                    Quinoa
Kale                                                 Old Fashion Oats 
Romaine Lettuce
Green Beans
Frozen Fruit: Strawberries, blueberries, mango, cherries

Dairy:                                                           Spices/Cooking oils:
Almond Milk                                                Mrs. Dash Seasonings
2% Milk                                                         Organic Coconut Oil
Low-fat or non-fat Greek Yogurt                Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Low-fat Shredded Cheese or string cheese    
Eggs/Egg whites

I want you to know that I did not figure all of this out overnight. This grocery list and my eating habits have been a 2+ year long journey and are, even now, still a work in progress. There is always room for improvement in some way, but as long as I keep moving forward, I feel like that's all anyone can ask for. I challenge you to educate yourself on how to nourish your body properly. Ask people for help if you don't know where to start. I asked numerous people for help who were willing to show me the ropes of eating healthy. If you don't know if something is good for you or not, look it up. That is exactly what I did. There is a lot of advancements being made in the field of nutrition and it is an ongoing process. Be advised that many people have different opinions about what is actually healthy. So at the end of the day, it is you who needs to make decisions for yourself. Ask yourself, "How does this food make me feel?" "Do I have energy after eating this, or am I sluggish and tired?" Questions like these will help you make good decisions about what you put in your mouth and transform the way you look at the function and purpose of food. I strongly believe that the sole purpose of food is to provide us with energy, and nourishment for our bodies in order to have a higher quality of life. It is my hope that more and more people will begin to realize this and begin to only view food as a source of nourishment and energy, instead of sources of comfort and satisfaction.

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