Like it or not, most of us actually need fewer calories than we think we need. This has nothing to do with our appetite or how much we want to eat. Lately, I have been using the daily meal plan tool available at www.myplate.gov to help people understand their daily requirements. From how much to offer children to the true needs for most adults, individuals are generally surprised. If you have never looked into the recommended daily caloric intake for you or your family, I highly suggest doing so. Like any budget, not following your daily caloric budget can result in overdoing it (like “over drafting” your daily food account).
There are three keys to making sure you don’t overdo it or, more importantly, that you feel full by eating just enough. The first is make sure you eat–begin within an hour of waking up and then aim for 2-3 hours throughout the day to avoid hunger from building up. Now that you are eating, be sure that what you are eating is designed to keep you fuller longer. The key to this step is to make sure that all snacks and meals are balanced, offering some carbohydrate along with some fat and/or protein. If you eat the carb only, you will not be satisfied. If you always skip the carb altogether, you will lack energy (and may really miss it!). Lastly, drink water or other non-calorie fluids throughout the day to control appetite and hydrate for good digestion.
Let’s look at a day and see how we can keep calories low, while keeping flavor and satiety high.
Get-me-Going Breakfast (200 Calories):
Kashi 7 Grain All Natural Waffle (2 Guiding Stars), 75 Calories
1 tbsp natural peanut butter (3 Guiding Stars), 95 Calories
1/2 banana (3 Guiding Stars), 30 Calories
Quick Mix Morning Snack (158 Calories):
½ cup Barbara’s Gluten Free Honey Rice Cereal (1 Guiding Star), 80 Calories
2 tbsp Sundridge Farms Organic Pumpkin Seeds (3 Guiding Stars), 78 Calories
Packed-with-Protein Lunch (330 Calories):
3 cups garden salad (3 Guiding Stars), 75 Calories
4 oz skinless, grilled chicken (3 Guiding Stars), 105 Calories
3 tsp olive oil (3 Guiding Stars), 135 Calories
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (1 Guiding Star), 15 Calories
Afternoon Pick-Me-Up (163 Calories):
3.5 oz Bing Cherries (3 Guiding Stars), 63 Calories
Emerald 100 Calorie Packs Dark Chocolate Cocoa Roast Almonds (3 Guiding Stars), 100 Calories
Fish Taco Fiesta Dinner (345 Calories):
4 oz grilled tilapia (prepared with salt and pepper), 3 Guiding Stars, 108 Calories
2 La Tortilla Factory Fiber & Flax Whole Grain Corn Tortillas, 2 Guiding Stars, 90 Calories
1 cup Mann’s Sunny Shores Rainbow Salad, 2 Guiding stars, 66 Calories
1/4 cup Fiesta Garden Fresh Salsa, 2 Guiding Stars, 11 Calories
Handful (about 1/2 oz) Food Should Taste Good Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, 1 Guiding Star, 70 Calories
Sweet Snack (150 Calories)
1/2 cup Edy’s Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Neapolitan Light Ice Cream, 90 Calories
Medium fresh peach, 60 Calories
Total Calories: 1346 delicious, satisfying and nutritious calories
The trick to getting the right kind of calories is planning ahead. With a little thought and preparation, you can easily adjust to a lower calorie diet without suffering from hunger or feeling deprived of great food.