A healthy lifestyle starts from the inside out. Eating healthy doesn't have to take up all of your spare time, or taste bland and boring. I've put together an easy meal plan so you can spend more time living a healthy lifestyle and less time worrying about what to eat.
Leading a healthy lifestyle starts in the kitchen. It's true, to some degree, that you are what you eat. If you consistently eat high sodium or high sugar content foods with processed ingredients and preservatives, you are filling your body with all kinds of potentially harmful substances!
*That's not good, folks!!!*
Eating clean and healthy doesn't have to be all 'rabbit food' and bland, boring flavors and textures though. Eating clean and healthy can taste good and leave you feeling good!
I've put together a meal plan chart that includes three meals a day, plus a snack and hovers at or below approximately 2,000 calories a day. This meal plan can easily be adapted for a bulking or cutting period too! Just modify the portion sizes or remove/add to the snack column!
This meal plan is based on core ingredients so you can mix and match to create different meals without having to prep an entire fridge worth of food. I've added a grocery list too so you don't have to plan a thing!
*Disclaimer: I am not a licensed nutritionist or dietitian. If you have questions or concerns about a meal item or if this plan is right for you, consult a professional! My meal plan and advice are based solely on personal experience and independent research.*
If you are doing a period of bulking or cutting, and you find it helpful to track your calorie intake, you can fill in the 'calorie' line in the meal chart! You can also eat intuitively if that floats your boat.
*Note: For this meal plan, I've left out the calorie information for each meal item as calorie amount will vary based on portion size and ingredient modification.
Eating intuitively is the idea of eating without tracking. Listening to your body and eating when you're hungry, recognizing when your body needs more of a certain type of food or is becoming deficient in an area, thus supplementing that need within your body with the corresponding food that will fill that need. Intuitive eating is to stop eating when you are full and eat again when you are hungry. Those going intuitive eating style don't typically follow a meal plan, instead eating what they want, when they want, with a positive, healthy outlook towards food and exercise.
Important things to note:
While eating a high sodium content diet on a regular basis can result in water retention and bloating, if you are leading a highly active lifestyle, especially in the heat of the summer, you're going to naturally lose more salt from your body when you sweat. Your body needs salt in order to function properly and it's important to replenish the salt content in your body when sweating excessively. Don't be afraid of salty foods, just eat within moderation, especially if you aren't balancing your salt intake with sweating it out.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is literally all about balance. It's okay to indulge in heavier foods every once in a while. Eat the ice cream! Eat the burger! Everything in moderation. And when possible, keep those indulgent meals as healthy as possible. Make a burger at home with a good whole wheat bun and homemade fries instead of going through the McDonald's drive-thru.
*Restricting foods doesn't work!!!*
All this does for your brain and body is make you crave the foods you're telling yourself you can't eat. Restricting certain foods can lead to binge eating problems down the road. For example, if you make carbs the enemy and can't stop thinking about or craving a pizza, eventually you're probably going to break down and eat an entire pizza in one sitting, probably resulting in stomach pains and guilt. Just eat a slice of pizza and let the craving go!
This meal plan can easily be modified for a vegetarian diet by substituting meat items for meatless options.
1 Loaf of Whole Wheat Bread
2-4 Protein Shakes
Salad Mix (Optional Topping Choices: Salad Dressing, Croutons, Cheese, Dried Cranberries, Seeds and Nuts, Apples, Bacon Bits)
Sliced Turkey or Meat of Choice
Cheese of Choice
Romaine Lettuce Hearts
Whole Wheat Buns
2-4 Protein Bars
Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, etc...)
Dried Fruit (Mango, Banana, Apple, Cranberries, Pineapple, Papaya, etc...)
Fresh Veggies (Snacking Veggies + 2-4 Bell Peppers)
Taco Seasoning (Or make your own from spices you already have)
Beans (Pinto or Black)