September 25, 2013
Mealtime Checklist for Satiety

Lunch and dinner meals can be (in my opinion) full of equal parts blessings and curses. They are often meals spent with family or friends (blessing), they can include favorite foods (blessing) and can give you great satisfaction in bulk/volume (blessing). However, they can often be ever-changing (curse being you have to check it's nutritional balance), perhaps monotonous (curse being you have a 'safe' meal you know is balanced so you eat it all the time, which can get boring) or time-consuming (curse obvious :)).

Tackling strategies for meal planning & prep, strategies for tracking custom foods and finding new recipes are great places to start. As you begin these strategies, though, keep this checklist in mind to ensure you are giving yourself an energizing, filling and healthful meals. Note: the goal is to have generally equal parts protein, carbohydrate, non-starchy veggies (and use fat sparingly, if needed)


1. Protein 

Examples: Meat (poultry, fish, shellfish, lean red meat, lean pork), high protein tofu, veg. meat alternatives (i.e. "chicken", burgers, etc.), eggs, egg whites, low-fat cheese or Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, protein powder.

A few reasons why you need it: Keeps you more full for longer, provides building blocks for muscle


2. Non-starchy Veggies

Examples: Leafy greens (spinach, romaine, etc.), peppers, carrots, celery, tomato, beets, broccoli, etc. This list is long, so note all veggies are non-starchy except corn, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, acorn/pumpkin/butternut squash. Everything else is non-starchy!

A few reasons why: Makes you more full initially, keeps you more full for longer, great nutritional value (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.)


3. Carbohydrates

Examples: Fruit, milk, yogurt (non-high protein), beans, lentils, grains, starchy veggies (see list above).

A few reasons why: Gives you energy and nutrients, like fiber (depending on the carb choice, the nutrients can differ)


4. Healthy fats (needed? - note: your cheeses, meats or dressings may have fat already in them. Proteins like shrimp or cod need a healthy fat, proteins like salmon or steak are complete by themselves)

Examples: Avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, oils (olive, peanut, canola, etc.), nut butters

A few reasons why: Keeps you full for even longer, and heart-healthy (but the calories in it are high, so portion control is needed)


                     Here's an example...

Dinner is a wrap. Included are the whole grain tortilla, low-fat cheese, lean meat, leaf of lettuce, tomato slice and hummus. 

1. Protein? Cheese, lean meat. Check.


2. Non-starchy veggies? Leaf lettuce, tomato slice. Good start but less than 1/3 of the meal's bulk (remember rule of 1/3's above). Add: side salad, veggie crudite or similar.

3. Carbohydrate? Tortilla, hummus. Check.


4. Healthy fats? Included in the cheese, hummus and meat. Check. 

Even if you didn't count calories, this is a good place to start with balancing your meals and helping you with portion control. You can image how much different you would feel with a side salad + wrap for dinner, vs. just the wrap. And with little calorie difference!

There's a number of ways to get in the habit of checking these things off your meal to-do list: the plate model visual (1/3 veggies, 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbohydrate and small serving fat), an Excel spreadsheet or online menu planner, etc. Just make sure you have all the items on the checklist.

Find the strategy that works for you! The important thing is creating a very straightforward, but effective, habit of remembering all 4 components of every lunch & dinner you have. This gets you a great start to increased fullness and effectiveness of your meal plan!

After you feel comfortable getting all these components into your meal specifically, you can further strategize for the right portions for you. Follow up with your Dietitian for help with this as needed.

Written by Erika Brown

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