The Meal Plan
Hate dieting because it often leaves you with a gnawing hunger that has you diving headfirst into the nearest bag of chips? That's because when you can't have what you want, you want it more. The solution: Eat frequently so you never get desperately hungry or feel deprived, and choose foods that are filling and nutritious so each time you get up from the table you are truly satisfied and energized.
Our eat-more-weigh-less plan has you eating six times daily and distributes a pound-shedding 1,400 calories throughout the day for an easy and healthy 1- to 2-pound loss each week. Plus, the portions are sane, which will help train your eyes — as well as your stomach — to know exactly how much is enough.
And the meal options include plenty of key vitamins and minerals that prevent disease. Consider our menu not just a short-term weight-loss plan but a healthy lifestyle change you can follow forever. Simply choose your meals and snacks each day from our list of choices you'll never get bored — and you'll love seeing how easily the weight comes off.
Breakfast: 250 Calories
Studies show that women who eat breakfast have lower BMIs (body mass indexes) than those who don't. Start your day with a combo of lean protein (like low-fat dairy, eggs, or lean breakfast meats) and healthy carbs (fruits or whole grains).
IN A HURRY
Grab an Amy's Breakfast Burrito
Two Kashi Heart to Heart Waffles, with 1 cup sliced strawberries and 2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt.
Yogurt Berry Parfait
Mix 6 ounces low-fat fruit yogurt with 1/4 cup low-fat granola and 1/2 cup sliced fruit.
Pair 3 links soy sausages (such as Morningstar Farms) with 1 slice whole wheat toast, topped with 1 teaspoon trans-free margarine spread, plus 1 apple.
GOT SOME TIME
Mix 2 medium whole eggs, 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup corn muffin mix, 1/4 cup skim milk, 1/2 cup spicy salsa, 1 cup spinach, 1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Makes 6 muffins. Eat 2 with 1 plum.
Make 1/2 cup cooked plain oatmeal with 3/4 cup skim milk and 1/4 cup water and top with about 7 walnut halves, a dash of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon raisins.
Toast 2 slices 45-calorie whole-grain bread, top with 2 strips turkey bacon, 2 slices tomato, 2 pieces lettuce, and 1 slice part-skim cheese.
Good Morning Grilled Cheese
Take 2 slices of 45-calorie whole-grain bread (such as Pepperidge Farm) and top with 2 slices low-fat cheese (such as Kraft 2% Singles) and 2 slices tomato. Have with 1 small orange.
Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana
Lightly spray skillet with vegetable cooking spray, grill 2 slices 45-calorie whole-grain bread smeared with 1/2 mashed banana and 2 teaspoons peanut butter. Enjoy with 1/2 cup skim milk.
Veggie Egg Scramble
Scramble 1 medium whole egg and 2 egg whites (use vegetable cooking spray on the bottom of the pan) with 1/2 cup diced zucchini and 1 tablespoon chopped onion. Serve with 1 slice whole wheat toast topped with 1 teaspoon trans-free margarine and a small peach.
Fill 1 small whole wheat flour tortilla (130 calories or less) with a sauteed (use vegetable cooking spray) mixture of 1/4 cup canned black beans, 1/2 ounce shredded low-fat cheese, and 1/4 cup frozen potato mix (such as Cascadian Farm).
Pour 3/4 cup whole-grain cereal in a bowl and top with 1/2 cup skim milk, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, and 1/2 cup sliced strawberries.
Egg, Spinach, Feta Sandwich
Top 1 whole wheat English muffin with 1 egg scrambled (use vegetable cooking spray) with 1/2 cup spinach and 1/2 ounce crumbled feta.
Cinnamon Toast with Cottage Cheese and Fruit
Top 2 slices 45-calorie whole-grain toast with 1/2 tablespoon trans-free margarine and a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. Serve with 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese and 1/2 cup of grapes.
Grab a healthy breakfast in the morning and you'll be less likely to overeat later in the day.
Snack: 150 Calories
Snacking between meals — assuming you're noshing on something that offers filling fiber, healthy fats, or lean protein — keeps your blood sugar levels steady. Translation: You won't crash and get ravenous between meals. It's also an opportunity to sneak in extra nutrition. Indulge in one of the following treats between breakfast and lunch and another during that lull in the afternoon.
IN A HURRY
Starbucks Grande (16 oz.) Caffe Latte with nonfat milk
Starbucks Tall (12 oz.) Nonfat Green Tea
Starbucks Grande (16 oz.) Frappuccino Light Coffee
Starbucks Tall (12 oz,) Frappuccino Light Caffe Vanilla
Dunkin Donuts Hot Latte (10 oz.) with soy and sugar
Dunkin Donuts Hot Latte Lite (10 oz), plus a small banana
Hot cocoa (1 packet of a no-sugar-added cocoa mix) made with 1 cup of skim milk and topped with 5 mini marshmallows
150 calories' worth of any canned soup that has less than 300 milligrams sodium and less than 5 grams of fat per serving, such as Amy's Light in Sodium Organic Lentil Soup (1/2 can) or Campbell's Low Sodium Chicken with Noodles Soup (3/4 can)
1 Quaker Fruit Flavor Crisp Bar
1 Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bar
18 baked tortilla chips served with 3/4 cup salsa
2 chocolate or caramel rice cakes each topped with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
GOT SOME TIME
1/4 cup prepared guacamole (not more than 110 calories) with 5 baby carrots, 4 broccoli florets, and 4 rings bell pepper
1/2 cup cubed fruit (melons, pineapples, berries) dipped in 6 ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup hummus with 4 baby carrots, 4 broccoli, florets, and 4 rings bell pepper
6 ounces nonfat fruit yogurt topped with 3/4 cup Fiber One (or 90 calories' worth of another whole-grain cereal)
3/4 cup air-popped popcorn (lightly salted) mixed with 2 tablespoons sliced almonds and 2 tablespoons Craisins
Graham Cracker Crunch
1 graham cracker crumbled in 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese and sprinkled with cinnamon
5.3-ounce Fage Total 0% Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Dip in 8 baby carrots, 1/2 cup sliced jicama, and 1/2 cup snow peas.
1 slice of 45-calorie whole wheat bread spread with 2 teaspoons peanut butter and 2 teaspoons all-fruit, no-sugar added jam
Fruit 'n' Cheese
1 medium peach, sliced, and 1 stick part-skim mozzarella string cheese
When picking out a snack, find one with less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 10 grams of sugar.
Lunch: 350 Calories
Lunch is the perfect opportunity to load up on fiber- and nutrient-rich veggies and lean protein, which will keep your hunger in check. Try to eat lunch at around the same time each day — one study found that when women ate on a consistent schedule they burned more calories overall.
IN A HURRY
Any Spa Cuisine Classics Lean Cuisine Entree
For entrees with less than 300 calories, add a side salad: 1 cup greens, 2 tablespoons shredded carrots, and 1 teaspoon low-fat dressing.
McDonald's Asian Chicken Salad
Top the salad with 1/2 packet Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing.
Veggie Chili Bowl
Top 1 cup canned veggie chili (such as Amy's Organic Black Bean Chili) with 1 ounce baked tortilla chips and 1 tablespoon Fage Total 0% Greek yogurt.
Burger King Tender Grill Chicken Sandwich
Toss the top of the bun and eat it open faced.
GOT SOME TIME
Combine 1 cup spinach with 3 ounces chunk light tuna (in water), 1/3 cup chickpeas, 1/4 cup green beans, 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar.
Roast Beef on Rye
Layer 3 slices lean roast beef on 2 slices of 45-calorie rye bread and top with 1 tablespoon light mayo and 2 large leaves lettuce. Eat with 1/2 cup of fruit.
Gather 3/4 cup of low-fat cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of strawberries, 1/4 cup of chopped apple, 1/2 cup of chopped pear, 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts, and 5 whole-grain crackers.
Crudites and Dip
Dip 5 baby carrots, 5 broccoli florets, 5 rings bell pepper, 5 cherry tomatoes, and 6 whole wheat bread sticks into a 5.3-ounce container Fage Total 0% Greek yogurt mixed with a dry dip mix, such as French onion or vegetable soup mix.
Put a 4-ounce patty on 1/2 of a whole wheat bun and top with 1 tablespoon mustard or ketchup, 1 slice of tomato, and 1 slice of low-fat cheese.
Grilled Chicken Salad
Start with 1 1/2 cups dark-leaf lettuce and top it with 4 ounces grilled chicken breast strips, 1/4 cup Craisins, 2 tablespoons reduced-fat Italian dressing, and 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes.
Fill 1 small whole wheat flour tortilla with 1/4 cup hummus, 1 chopped scallion, 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach, 1/4 cup chopped red pepper, 1/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons crumbled low-fat feta.
Creamy Broccoli Baked Potato
Top 1 medium baked potato with 1/2 cup cooked chopped broccoli, 2 tablespoons Fage Total 0% Greek yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of shredded, low-fat cheddar cheese. Eat with 1 large apple.
Mix a 3-ounce can of salmon (in water) with 1 tablespoon light mayo, 1/4 cup chopped red onion, the juice of 1/2 small lemon, 1 teaspoon dried dill, 1/2 cup chopped celery, and 1/4 cup chopped yellow pepper. Serve with 7 whole wheat crackers.
English Muffin Pizzas
Halve 1 whole wheat English muffin and split the following up onto each side: 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper, 1/4 cup sliced zucchini, 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella, and 2 tablespoons grated parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees F. until cheese melts.
Southwestern Veggie Burger
Grill 1 veggie burger patty (110 calories or less, such as GardenBurger Classic) and serve it on a light, whole-grain bun (85 calories or less) with 2 slices tomatoes and 1 tablespoon guacamole. Include a side salad of 1 cup spinach, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 tablespoon dressing (100 calories or less).
Avoid food with more than 300mg sodium, which can raise blood pressure and bring on the bloat.
Dinner: 350 Calories
These meals round out your day in more than one way: They give you additional veggies (your last opportunity to fill up on low-cal, fiber-rich produce) and are satisfying, so you won't be tempted to reach for a high-calorie snack before bedtime.
IN A HURRY
Try any of the following frozen meals:
Healthy Choice Honey Balsamic Chicken
Healthy Choice Herb Baked Fish
Moosewood Farfalle & Spinach Pesto (360 calories)
Amy's Asian Noodle Stir-Fry
Amy's Teriyaki Bowl
Amy's Indian Mattar Paneer
Kashi Sweet & Sour Chicken
Kashi Black Bean Mango
Reach for one of these options if you just can't get home to prepare a healthy dinner:
2 slices Pizza Hut 12-inch Medium Veggie Lover's Thin 'N Crispy Pizza
P.F. Chang's Vegetable Steamed Dumplings with Tofu
P.F. Chang's Cantonese Shrimp
Taco Bell Chalupa Baja Chicken Fresco Style
GOT SOME TIME
Top 1 small whole wheat tortilla (no more than 130 calories) with 1/4 cup shredded skim mozzarella, 1/4 cup black beans, 1/2 cup spinach, 1/4 cup white mushrooms, and 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes. Fold and bake until cheese melts and spinach wilts. Eat with 2 tablespoons Fage Total 0% Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon salsa.
Top 3 ounces grilled salmon with mixture of 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon horseradish sauce, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill. Eat with 1/2 cup steamed broccoli (drizzled with lemon juice and salt) and 1/2 cup whole wheat couscous.
Saute 1/2 cup sliced bell peppers and 1/4 cup sliced onions (in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil) and then mix with 3 ounces roasted chicken breast strips. Put this mixture in 1 small whole wheat tortilla (no more than 130 calories) and top with 1/2 tablespoon low-fat sour cream and 1/2 tablespoon guacamole.
Shrimp and Veggie Stir-Fry
Stir-fry 3 ounces shrimp, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli, 1/2 cup chopped carrot, and 1/4 cup chopped onion in 2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil. Serve with 1/2 cup brown rice and 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce.
Turkey Sausage Pasta
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and add 2 ounces cooked turkey sausage, 1 cup chopped broccoli rabe (steam first for 5 minutes to reduce bitterness), 1 tablespoon chopped pecans, and 1 tablespoon chopped dried apricots. Mix with 2/3 cup cooked whole wheat macaroni. Top with 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan.
Spicy Beef Burger
Mix 3 ounces lean ground beef with 1/4 small onion, chopped, and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Grill and serve on 1 light whole wheat bun with 2 tomato slices and 2 teaspoons mustard or ketchup. Plus a salad: 1 cup spinach, 1/4 cup shredded carrot, 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 tablespoon raisins and 1/2 tablespoon low-cal dressing.
Tangy Tofu Stir-Fry
In 1 teaspoon sesame oil saute 3 ounces extra-firm tofu (cut in cubes), 1/2 cup chopped asparagus, 1/2 cup of chopped yellow, green, and red bell peppers, 1/4 cup sliced, canned water chestnuts, 4 sliced shiitake mushrooms, and 1/4 cup frozen corn kernels. Top with 1 teaspoon hot mustard and 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce.
Fish Taco Wrap
Fill 1 whole wheat tortilla (130 calories or less) with 3 ounces baked or grilled white fish (cod, halibut, or mahi mahi), 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon light mayo, 2 tablespoons prepared salsa. Add a side salad of 1 cup lettuce, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, and 1/2 tablespoon dressing (50 calories or less).
Dessert: 150 Calories
What's life without dessert? Not so sweet. Assuming you stuck to the meal plan up until now, you still have 150 calories left to indulge your chocolate, sugar, or rich-and-creamy craving. Enjoy!
Chocolate or Vanilla Pudding
Top one 5.2-ounce fat-free JELL-O snack with 1/3 cup chopped fruit and 2 tablespoons nondairy whipped cream.
Enjoy 150 calories' worth of any low-fat frozen yogurt, such as:
3/4 cup Edy's Slow Churned Yogurt Blend in Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl
3/4 cup Kemps Live Healthy Fat Free Frozen Yogurt in Vanilla
Fruit with Chocolate Sauce
Dip 1 cup sliced fruit (apples, berries, bananas) in 1 tablespoon chocolate sauce and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped pecans.
Decorate 1 small banana with 1 tablespoon caramel topping and 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts.
Top 1/2 cup fruit sorbet with 1/2 cup berries.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter
Dip 3/4-ounce piece of dark chocolate in 2 teaspoons of peanut butter.
Enjoy 2 cups with 1.5 tablespoons caramel topping.
Cinnamon Apple Crisp
Slice 1 large baked apple (core removed) and top it with 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of light whipped topping.
In a blender mix 6 ounces of low-fat vanilla yogurt and 6 ounces of frozen juice (cranberry or blueberry) from concentrate. Pour mixture into four 4-ounce ice pop molds. Freeze for 2 hours. Eat one pop.
Chocolate Chip Muffins
Make 1 box of Hodgson Mill's whole wheat muffin mix (instead of butter mix in 1 tablespoon applesauce, use skim milk and add 2 egg whites instead of 1 egg). Before baking add 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Makes 8 small muffins — eat one.
Warm Applesauce Cobbler
Warm 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce and top with 2 tablespoons low-fat vanilla yogurt, 1/4 cup low-fat granola, and 1/2 cup chopped strawberries.
De-Caf Chocolate Milk Shake
In a blender, combine 1/2 cup de-caf coffee (chilled), 1/2 cup skim milk, 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup, and 1/4 cup crushed ice.
Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the October 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.