Setting The Table For a Healthy Weight

03.05.2013 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

AP Photo

Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN; Washington Redskins Team Dietitian

Thanks for all the great ideas last week from WOW members on how you replace empty calories with enjoyable foods that provide an extra nutrient punch (see Empty Calories vs. Nutrient Dense Foods).

This week we will continue to the third step to managing a healthy weight for a lifetime.

Step Three: Set a Foundational Eating Pattern

If you let food “just happen,” it will be a disaster. I truly believe a major cause for the obesity epidemic is the fact that our bodies are designed for scarcity--think caveman days--yet our current environment is one of abundance. If we wander aimlessly through our day, not paying attention to fueling our bodies, we will end up in the fast food line or at the vending machine before we know it!

It is important to stay conscious of our body’s need for nutrition and strategize around our environment/lifestyle to ensure proper fueling.

Planning, preparing and portioning are the “3 P’s” to a lifetime of good nutrition.

Three balanced meals, plus two to three snacks in between guided by hunger, have been found to be the body’s best fueling schedule.

A balanced meal equals three parts:

  1. A source of lean protein + a source of nutrient rich grain + a fruit &/or vegetable.
  2. A meal equals roughly between 500 – 800 calories in a ratio of ¼ protein + ¼ grain + ½ fruit and/or vegetables
  3. A source of calcium rich dairy can be added to a meal or a snack.

A snack equals two parts: A protein source (meat /meat alternative or dairy) + a carbohydrate (grain or fruit) and equals roughly 200-300 calories.

A note on snacking:
--Our society associates snacking with “less than healthy” foods and beverages and often is practiced mindlessly.
--It is important to redefine “snacking”.
--The purpose of a snack is to manage hunger between meals.
--A snack is also an opportunity to get nutrients that one may miss at meals (i.e. dairy or fruit). I call this “purposeful snacking”.
--The key to purposeful snacking is planning, preparing and portioning.

3 Samples of Meal Patterns
7 a.m. -- breakfast     9 a.m. -- breakfast     11 a.m. -- breakfast
10 a.m. -- snack     Noon. -- lunch     2 p.m. -- lunch
1 p.m. -- lunch     3 p.m. -- snack     5 p.m. -- snack
4 p.m. -- snack     6 p.m. -- dinner     8 p.m. -- dinner
7 p.m. -- dinner     9 p.m. --snack     11 p.m. -- snack

--Strive to eat breakfast within one hour upon awakening and plan your schedule from that point.
--If you will be retiring to bed within 4 hours of dinner you do not need an evening snack unless you are physically hungry.
--When you begin this pattern, you may find you are not hungry this often. This may indicate your portions at your meals/snacks are too large.
--If you are eating proper portion sizes in an optimum meal mix (balanced meal or snack) then your body will be ready for refueling every three to four hours.

This week, I challenge you to sit down with your planner/calendar and schedule your meals and snacks, in advance, for at least two days. You will be amazed by how a little extra time “up front” can make a huge difference in your food choices and ability to control portions.

Make it a healthy week!


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