With so many trendy diets out there promising quick results, it’s easy to get sucked in. But our resident dietitian Melissa Meier says the path to losing weight and keeping it off is the rather “boring” but tried and true method of balanced eating.
Is weight loss on your radar? Chances are, you’re considering giving one of the latest and greatest fad diets a try (think: keto, intermittent fasting, vegan). Oh, and don’t forget to throw in a bunch of uber-expensive foods you can only get from health food shops, too!
Before you dive in, however, here’s a news flash: there is absolutely no need to jump on the bandwagon of all of the hottest wellness trends. I repeat, goodbye acai bowls, collagen supplements, and green powders.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, for good, all you really need is a balanced way of eating, regardless of how much weight you want to lose. I know it sounds boring, but trust me, it works.
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Dietitian-approved healthy eating criteria
So, what exactly is a balanced way of eating? Say hello to my four-point criteria. Note that it won’t help you lose five kilograms in the blink of an eye – but rather, help you achieve your healthiest weight overtime without yoyoing.
Rich in plants
Fruit, veg, wholegrains and legumes are oh-so good for you. They’re packed with gut-loving fibre, disease-fighting antioxidants and a raft of vitamins and minerals to keep your body in tip top shape. With a goal to lose weight, these foods are particularly handy because they’re relatively low in calories. They should make up the majority of your diet.
Moderate in protein
Yes, protein is incredibly important (especially when you want to lose weight because it’ll maintain muscle mass while keeping you feeling full), but chances are, you don’t need anywhere near as much as you think. Simply include a small portion of protein at each main meal by choosing one of the following: 100 grams of red meat, poultry or seafood, two eggs, one cup of legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), 170 grams of tofu, 30 grams of nuts and/or seeds or a cup of milk.
Low on booze.
It might make for a good time, but alcohol is seriously energy-dense – and overdoing it can add stacks of calories to your diet, which is obviously not ideal when you’re trying to shed kilos. I’d encourage you to include as many alcohol-free days per week as possible, and sip on no more than four standard drinks per drinking occasion.
Mindful eating is key to a healthy relationship with food. In a nutshell, it will help you to tune into your hunger and satiety cues, so you’ll only eat when you’re truly hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied. To help get you started, read my beginners guide to mindful eating, here.
Weight loss meal plan
With these principles in mind, here are a few dietitian-approved meals that’ll fit into any weight loss meal plan.
- Two poached eggs on two slices of wholemeal sourdough, with a quarter of an avocado and roasted tomatoes.
- Brekkie wrap made of two scrambled eggs, spinach and mushrooms on a wholegrain wrap.
- Half a cup of natural muesli with yoghurt and passionfruit.
- Homemade smoothie made with one cup of light milk, a spoonful of plain yoghurt, a quarter of a cup of rolled oats and one cup of frozen mixed fruit (think: banana, mango, berries).
- Salad made of roasted vegetables, chickpeas and mixed leaves dressed in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Salad made of cooked green lentils tossed with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and rocket dressed in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
- Four rice cakes topped with two tablespoons of hummus and a tin of tuna in oil (drained) served with fresh chopped veg.
- One 220 gram tin of reduced-salt baked beans on two slices of wholegrain bread, topped with a sprinkle of goats cheese.
- Tuna, cheese, lettuce, carrot and cucumber on a wholegrain wrap.
- Veggie-packed tofu stir fry made with lots of vegetables, served with one cup of cooked long grain brown rice.
- Homemade baked vegetable frittata served with two slices of wholegrain bread.
- Baked salmon served with roasted sweet potato, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.
- Dhal made with red lentils, pumpkin and lots of spices, topped with a dollop of plain Greek yoghurt.
- Veggie-packed stir fry made with lean beef strips, served with one cup of cooked soba noodles.
- Homemade pizzas made of a whole grain wrap topped with tomato paste, thinly sliced zucchini and capsicum, fresh prawns and a light sprinkle of cheese.
- Roast dinner made of a roasted chicken (skin removed) and potato, pumpkin and beetroot cooked in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Snacks (2-3 per day)
- A piece of fresh fruit.
- Veggie sticks and hummus.
- Regular sized flat white (no sugar or flavourings).
- Plain yoghurt (add fresh fruit for sweetness if you like).
- One cup of popcorn and a handful of raw nuts.
- Low sugar, high-fibre muesli bar.