A dieting plan is a strategy for losing weight and improving health. It involves lifestyle changes that are realistic and sustainable for the long term.
Meal planning is key to staying on track with your nutritional goals. It can help you meet your nutrition goals, reduce food waste and save money.
1. Focus on nutrient-dense foods
A diet based on nutrient-dense foods can help you manage your weight and prevent health problems, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A nutrient-dense food approach focuses on whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. It also limits salt, added sugars and saturated fats.
Nutrient-dense foods provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy complex carbohydrates with relatively few calories. Examples include nonfat dairy products, low-sodium canned or frozen vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, unsweetened tea and coffee and unsalted nuts.
In contrast, energy-dense foods have a lot of calories for little nutrition. Examples include soda, candy, cookies, cakes and chips. A nutrient-dense food strategy cuts out these “empty” calories and makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight. This is especially important for older adults, since it can help them avoid the diseases of aging and keep their body weights in a healthy range. (1)
2. Eat smaller meals more often
The idea behind eating smaller meals more often when dieting is that it can help speed up your metabolism by forcing the body to work hard to digest food more frequently. In theory, it’s also easier to control your calorie intake because you are not consuming large meals that are high in calories.
If you choose healthy whole foods for your small meals, like lean proteins (meat, fish and eggs), fibrous vegetables and fruits and slow-burning non-refined carbohydrates, this diet can work well for most people. However, some people find that increased meal frequency is difficult to follow and may lead to overeating, especially if they are eating unhealthy snacks in between.
Some people struggle to get enough nutrients when they eat six small meals per day, so it’s important to stick with the quality of your food. To help with this, consider getting a DNA test from CircleDNA to learn which foods are best for you.
3. Eat more vegetables
Whether you are trying to lose weight or just want to feel better and have more energy, incorporating vegetables into your meals is one of the best diet changes you can make. Not only are they low in calories, but they also contain lots of fibre and other important nutrients that fight disease and keep you feeling strong.
Ideally, you want to fill half your plate with vegetables at both lunch and dinner. This can be challenging, but it’s possible with a little creativity and effort.
Try building your meal around a vegetable like leafy greens, air-fried broccoli or carrot sticks with hummus. Or if you’re cooking dinner, add in some diced veggies like squash, zucchini or sweet potatoes to your main dish. It’s also helpful to have a few vegetable-based snacks on hand that are easy to grab, like carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes. Taking a few minutes at the weekend to wash, chop and prep veggies for the week will save you time during the week.
4. Eat fewer calories
Calories are the energy that your body needs to perform basic functions like breathing, digesting, circulating and thinking. Eating fewer calories than you burn each day can help you lose weight. You can cut calories by replacing high-calorie foods with lower-calorie choices. Try baking, broiling and stewing instead of frying, and use small serving sizes to control portion size. You can also track the calories you eat with a notebook, pen and paper or an app or website, such as MyFitnessPal or LoseIt. If you can’t give up your favorite higher-calorie foods, eat them less often or in smaller amounts.