The number one complaint I hear from people is that they are tired of thinking about food all of the time. What should I eat today? Is this meal healthy enough? Will it keep me feeling full until dinner? Coming up with 3 separate meals per day (plus snacks) can feel like a full time job at times. Let’s make meal time easier and more enjoyable by creating meals that are healthy, easy to make, and taste great.
Let’s start with breakfast. I know that many people choose to not eat breakfast every day, and that’s okay. If you prefer to wait until later in the day to start eating, that’s fine with me as long as you feel that your energy level stays high and hunger doesn’t get too out of control. For those of us who do choose to eat breakfast, here’s a quick and easy formula to follow:
Breakfast = carb + protein (+ veggies if possible)
What matters most when it comes to breakfast is that you eat both a carb and a protein. If you can eat veggies with breakfast too, that’s fantastic. However, it might not be realistic to include veggies in your breakfast every morning, and that’s okay. Focus on the carb and protein.
Here are some breakfast ideas that fit the breakfast formula:
Oatmeal (carb) made with milk (protein) and topped with walnuts (protein)
Smoothie made with fruit (carb), milk (protein), yogurt (protein), and spinach (veggies - bonus!)
Toast (carb) with eggs (protein), scrambled with spinach (veggies - bonus!)
Now let’s move on to lunch and dinner. These two meals have the same formula:
Lunch/Dinner = carb + protein + veggies
Veggies aren’t optional for these meals; make sure you’re eating some form of veggies at both lunch and dinner (especially if you didn’t eat any at breakfast). Your veggies can be raw, cooked, blended into a smoothie, added to a sandwich, or mixed in a sauce. No matter the form, just make sure you’re eating some veggies at both lunch and dinner.
Lunch tends to be the most difficult meal of the day for many people. It can be hard to know what to eat, and many of us don’t have a lot of time to prepare lunch in the middle of the day. Here are some quick and easy lunch ideas that don’t take a long time to make and fit the meal formula:
Sandwich made with whole wheat bread (carb), turkey and cheese (protein) and lettuce, with a side salad (veggie)
Rice bowl made with pre-cooked rice (carb), frozen pre-cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken (protein), and frozen veggies
Loaded salad with a side of fruit (carb), hard boiled eggs and deli meat (protein), and lots of veggies as a base
Leftovers are the easiest lunch. Make double the amount of food at dinner and eat your carb, protein, and veggie leftovers for lunch.
Dinner is a little easier variety-wise than lunch, but it can still be difficult to decide what to eat every single night of the week. If you feel stuck in a rut and want some balanced dinner ideas, here are a few:
Stir fry - rice (carb), your choices of veggies (can be frozen or fresh), and your choice of protein such chicken, steak, or tofu
Pasta bake - noodles (carb), frozen meatballs (protein), sauce, and a side salad (veggie)
Taco night - cooked ground beef, chicken, turkey, or tofu (protein), tortillas (carbs), and your favorite toppings including lettuce and tomatoes (veggies)
Cookout - hamburgers or veggie burgers (protein), whole wheat bun (carb), and grilled veggies of your choice
To learn more about nutrition, check out my podcast “RDs vs BS” on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. In the podcast, we use science to separate what’s legit and what’s BS in the world of health and nutrition. Check out the website at www.rdsvsbs.com.
Nutrition is very personalized, and nutrition recommendations are going to look different for every person based on goals, preferences, and lifestyle. If you want to find clarity about what your specific needs are and how to get healthy for life, I’m here for you. As a dietitian and health coach, I help people figure out a way of eating that helps them optimize their health in the long term, without a dieting or weight focus. I am currently offering free initial nutrition sessions for new clients. To learn more and to schedule your free session, check out my website at www.emilyzorn.com.