If you’re looking for a healthy meal plan that kick starts your weight loss, you may get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there. Different nutrition and diet gurus all have their own spins on what’s the healthiest plan, and what’s the plan that will result in the most weight loss. These plans require a great deal of legwork: counting points, counting carbs, counting calories, and so on. While plans like Weight Watchers can be transformative for some folks, the truth is: they may not work for busy moms, dads, and professionals who simply don’t have the time to devote on top of everything else going on. In this article, we’ll give you an overview and some basic guidelines on healthy meal planning with a big focus on losing those extra pounds. (and something that will help you greatly at the end)
Healthy Meal Plans: A Walk Down Memory Lane
I may be aging myself here, but you may remember the ‘Basic Four’ food groups from health class way back when. If you don’t -- the four food groups were the USDA’s recommendations for healthy meals. The problem with these food groups? They were too basic: Vegetables and fruits, Milk, Meat, and Cereals and Breads. Yes: that’s what the USDA suggested Americans eat between the years of 1956-1992.
In 1992, the food pyramid replaced the food groups: the pyramid showed five food groups (the fifth group added was oils and sweets -- yes, sweets ) placed in the order in which they should be consumed (most at the bottom, least at the top). This pyramid faced heavy criticism by professionals who expressed great concern that it could lead to an epidemic of diabetes.
Healthy Meal Plans: Where We are Today
In 2011, the USDA replaced the pyramid model with something a whole lot more logical: a plate model (My Plate). The new plate model divides the plate into four, and has a glass/side item near the plate. The USDA advocates planning your meal to largely plant-based, stating, ‘make half your plate vegetables and fruits'.
The exact recommendation for a healthy meal are as follows: 30% grains, 40% veggies, 10% fruits, and 20% protein. A glass of milk or yogurt is the suggested side item. The good news? The USDA is clearly evolving and aligning their recommendations more closely with what’s actually healthy. But they still have quite a ways to go.
Healthy Meal Planning: Weight Loss Pure Plates Way
So many diets out there advocate extreme calorie restriction...and not much else. As we like to advocate, focus on quality calories more than just cutting the calories. Sugary soft drinks are full of calories that don’t help your body do much other than gain weight and develop insulin-resistance; vegetables are full of calories that give your body the vital nutrients it needs to be at its best.
If you go on an extreme calorie restriction diet, you risk not giving your body the nutrients (and energy) you deserve and need. That being said, taking in better quality calories is the initial key to successful weight loss, not just hitting the gym or exercising.
Healthy Meal Planning: Get Started
Mark Twain once famously said, ‘the secret to getting ahead is getting started.’ We couldn’t agree more. We get it. Sometimes you need some help in hitting the reset button and taking off.
Here at Pure Plates, we have a 30-day meal plan (Fresh Start 30) designed to help you take the plunge. Quality calories, lots of veggies and fruits, and delicious. Our 30-day meal plan takes the stress off, gives you more time (to get some exercise in or just some r&r), and an accountability partner.
Bottom line….ever heard of the KISS method? If you haven’t, it means: Keep it Simple Stupid. It was introduced by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The main principle is that most systems work best when they’re kept as simple as possible. Avoid complicating things when you don’t need to.
Our 30 Day Nutritionist designed meal plan does just that: it keeps things simple. No points to worry about and no carbohydrates to log. No fasting...no crashing. Just quality calories that help you achieve health -- and stay healthy. Data shows that the more simple your diet is, the more likely you are to stay with it.
Whether you do the shopping and cooking yourself, or choose a meal service to help you out -- keep it simple, stupid.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hannah Ash, Journalist and Blog Strategist, Nutrition Fanatic
JoHannah Ash first discovered the transformative power of nutrition after struggling to shed post-baby weight: today, she is 100% committed to continuously learning about disease prevention, weight loss, and healthy living through the foods we eat. She spent a decade living in Burlington, Vermont, surrounded by pioneers in the 'local foods' and 'farm-to-table' movements -- and is proud to have been one of the first people to purchase (and wear) one of the now-famous 'Eat More Kale' shirts. When it comes to meal planning for her family, her philosophy can be summed up in three words: "Easy. Pure. Tasty."