Meals and Snacks

I get a lot of questions regarding balancing meals and snacks (I actually would prefer you to think of them all as meals, maybe some will be smaller, but the word snack for some means a treat such as potato chips or candy bars).  As I talk about in class, anytime you eat a meal or a snack, you should be getting a good balance of protein, carbohydrate, fiber and fat.  This will help to maintain your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller longer.  
To accomplish this, try to make 3/4 of your plate fruits, vegetables and whole grains and the remaining 1/4 of your plate a lean protein (doesn’t have to be meat, could be dairy products, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, tofu, etc).  Also, make sure to distribute your calories wisely.  Many people trying to lose weight will eat a small breakfast, a light lunch and then be ravenous for food by the time they reach dinner.  I would recommend 1/3 of your calories at breakfast, 1/3 of your calories at lunch and 1/3 of your calories at dinner.  You could make room for snacks where you need them as well.  This will help to fuel your mind and body for the work day and exercise and to lighten up dinner.  Isn’t it interesting that we try to “diet” during the day by going light on calories and then our biggest meal of the day is at night right before we lounge at home and go to bed?  Making the switch to bigger breakfasts and lunches and smaller dinners will allow you to have more energy during the day.  I know you will notice a difference by making these changes.
Here are some good examples of balanced meals and snacks.
  • Oatmeal made with skim milk or soy milk and fruit
  • High fiber cereal with skim milk or soy milk and fruit
  • Egg white omelet (packed with veggies!) and a piece of toast
  • Yogurt, cottage cheese, Fiber One and fruit (my personal favorite)
  • Whole grain waffles or pancakes with yogurt and fruit
  • Toast with peanut butter and a glass of skim milk
  • Bean and vegetable soup with crackers
  • Sandwiches made with lean meat and veggies
  • Salad with cottage cheese and whole wheat pita or tortilla on the side
  • Stuffed pita pocket with hummus and veggies
  • Meat and veggie wraps with a side of fruit
  • Salmon, brown rice and veggies
  • Grilled chicken, baked potato and salad with light oil based dressing
  • Stir-fry made with veggies, lean meat or tofu over brown rice
  • Hash made with sweet potatoes, beans, veggies, salsa and scrambled eggs
  • Salads topped with a lean meat and light oil based dressing
  • Stews, soups and casseroles packed with veggies and light on added fat
  • Soy burgers or turkey burgers on whole grain buns and light condiments
  • Whole wheat pasta with tomato based sauce with reduced fat cheese or lean meats (ground turkey or chicken breast) in place of hamburger
Snacks: (each of these is about 150-200 calories)
  • Apple or banana with 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 10 Kashi crackers with 1 tbsp peanut butter and raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese with reduced fat granola or Fiber One
  • 12 almonds and an orange
  • Edamame (by itself a good balance of fat, carbohydrates, fiber and protein)
  • 1 container Fage yogurt (Greek yogurt-if you can find it, try it!) and 1/2 tbsp almond slivers
  • Non fat yogurt with a pear
  • 100 calorie pack popcorn with 8 oz of skim milk (could add some dark chocolate and make hot chocolate)
  • 2 tbsp hummus with 10 small whole grain crackers
  • Small bowl of bean and vegetable soup with a few whole grain crackers (why not as a snack?)
  • 8 oz of low fat chocolate soymilk (a real treat for some!)
  • Trail mix made with 1/2 cup cereal (Kashi cereals, Fiber One, reduced fat granola, whole grain Cheerios), 1/4 cup dried fruit (mangoes, cranberries, raisins, apricots), and 1 tbsp nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts)
  • Smoothie made with 6 oz skim milk, 2 ounces plain non fat yogurt and a piece of fruit
  • Fruit and yogurt parfait from Mcdonalds, when you are on the run (lower the calories and ask for it without the granola)
  • 1 string cheese and 10 whole grain crackers
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD