by Melinda D. Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDE
A good place to start when thinking about how to eat a healthy diet is with “the Plate method”. While it doesn’t require counting calories, it helps to aim for small servings. Use a smaller plate (9 inch diameter) to help you keep your portions sensible.
If you’re looking for a little more structure, use our meal-by-meal calorie estimator. This requires reading labels and referring to a calorie guide reference book or website such as Calorie King (www.calorieking.com)
Plate Method: Basic meal planning:
½ plate fruits and veggies
¼ plate grains or starchy vegetables (aim for most of the grains to be whole grains)
¼ plate protein (lean meat, fish, egg, low-fat cheese)
Dairy: Enjoy a small glass (4-8 oz) of non-fat or low-fat milk or yogurt (without added sugars)
Healthy fat: Add a small serving of a healthy oil (olive or canola oil salad dressing, avocado, nuts)
Include a calorie-free beverage (water, seltzer, coffee, tea….)
Calorie Counting: Where do I begin?
Counting calories for a day can be cumbersome. It’s a bit more practical to have a guideline for the number of calories to eat for each meal and snack. This chart gives an estimate of calories needed per meal by men and women who are aiming to lose weight.
This is just a starting place until you see a registered dietitian who can help you personalize menus just for you. Some may need more calories. Some less. Until you do, if these menus are leaving you hungry – add more veggies or lean protein. Remember, a small amount of fat (1 Tbsp salad dressing, olive oil on veggies, 2 Tbsp nuts or ¼ avocado) provides healthy fats and helps keep you feeling full longer.
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